Category Archives: Wild Bird Hunts

Colorado Walk-In Area Bird Hunting

Yesterday was a picture perfect day to visit one of Colorado’s many walk-in hunting areas. Colorado does a nice job trying to provide hunting opportunities and has enrolled about 215,000 acres in this program that allows hunters to access private land at no cost. In addition to free hunting we had perfect weather – highs in the mid-40’s, partly cloudy with a slight breeze.

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North Dakota Deep Freeze

Historically, we have pretty decent weather on our hunts but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Our North Dakota hunt was at the apex of an epic winter blast from Canada. Only one of the four days had high temps that flirted with double digits. On that day we traded a few degrees for 30 – 40 mph wind and blowing snow. Despite the brutal cold we still had a great hunt. We took our limit of birds each day, no worry of the dogs overheating (only worrying about them freezing to death) and because we were ready and well dressed, we were over all pretty comfortable.

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There was some trepidation at getting out of the warm truck and braving the elements.

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Western Bird Hunt

Lots of boot leather and tireless dogs found us four species of birds on a weekend hunt out west. Hungarian Partridge, Chukar, Blue Grouse and Sharptail Grouse all found their way into our game bags. This is big country, a sea of rolling grass and sage, and I was surprised with our success at finding birds. This is bird hunting in its purest form. No guide, no released birds, no food plots – just birds where God put them. You have to work hard, but when you find them and connect it is hugely rewarding for both the hunter and dog.

The dramatic, vast country made for some terrific photographic opportunities.

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A Hot Time in South Dakota

The bird counts were way up over last year but so was the temperature. We had terrific weather with blue skies and temps pushing into the low 80’s. The unseasonably warm weather was great for the hunters, but pretty hard on the dogs. We had to keep a close watch on them to be sure they did not overheat.

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Missouri Turkey

We went to northern Missouri to hunt Eastern Turkeys last weekend. The weather was near perfect but the turkeys were not as plentiful as in years past and those that we did find were not very cooperative. Though not as successful as we would have liked, it was a very good time. The folks in Missouri are about as nice as you will find.

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Locating gobblers.

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Random Shots From the Dakotas

Here are some random pictures from this year’s hunts in the Dakotas.

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This a genuine North Dakota farm truck.

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2013 North Dakota Pheasant Hunt

This year we enjoyed 2 great hunts in the Dakotas. This 2nd hunt is our standing hunt with Cannonball Company out of Regent, North Dakota. We always have a terrific time with these fine folks.

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South Dakota Pheasant

Tex and I took advantage of an invite to the opening weekend in South Dakota. We had the pleasure of joining a terrific group of guys from Michigan on their annual pheasant hunt. Some of these fellows have been hunting together for 30 plus years and a number of these guys have grown up making the annual pilgrimage to Pierre for the big hunt. We enjoyed a classic wild bird hunt of the best sort.

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A great old truck with great old hunters!

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Texas Dove 2013

This year we had the great fortune to hunt the opening day of the Texas dove season.
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Texas Turkey

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Rio Grande tom taken with a .223 sporting rifle.

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Rockin’ Superbowl Party at The Birdhunter!

Couch with Tex

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February 2, 2013 · 6:46 pm

More Shots from Pheasant Country

Here are some more pictures from our hunt in North Dakota.

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North Dakota Roosters

Hunting North Dakota in the middle of November can be a weather crap shoot. The week before we arrived the highs were in the teens with half a foot of snow on the ground but we lucked out with absolutely perfect weather. We had the blue skies behind this handsome rooster, highs in the upper 40’s and calm wind with an occasional light breeze for our four day hunt. There were plenty of birds but, as you would expect, the hunting is more challenging on these later hunts than what you find in October.  This hunt was a perfect introduction for Tex to wild birds. Each day he improved exponentially and by the last day he was working the wind and reliably sticking birds with solid points. At nine months old we are delighted with his performance.

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Colorado Dove 2012

Here in Colorado the drought is in full bloom and heat records seem to be set daily. It has been a tough summer for the birds.  Dove hunting in Colorado is rarely spectacular but this year our one day dove hunt was notably slow. My guess is that there were about half the birds as compared to the year before. No one took a limit but of course the hunters the day before were limited out and done by 9:30am, we were told. Maybe so as that was opening day.

Even though the hunting was poor, we had a great time. The birds arrived in ones and twos all morning, the weather was perfect and this was Tex’s first hunt. Tex had two Labs and another GSP to hunt and play with. There is no doubt that he had a terrific time and was exhausted at the end of the morning.

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Beautiful Colorado Sage

The two day Colorado Sage Grouse season is almost upon us. Last year we were skunked but with the 2012 drought in full swing and the dwindling bird numbers, I am sure we will all limit by brunch. We are OK with the poor odds, it is great to get the dogs out and hunt after a long hot summer. Not to mention that we have a new puppy to break in! Here are some of the better pictures from past seasons.

Sage, and lots of it. We love the desolate, lonely places of the bird hunt.

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Remembering Texas Quail

There was no Texas quail hunt this year for us. A 100 year drought, a new job and the bird dog up and dying kept us home. Here are a few pictures of the good old days.

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Wild Cocks

Now, THAT title should get some hits!  “Cock” is such a funny word. Nothing wrong with it in the right context but it sits precariously on the edge between OK and absolutely not OK. Use it in the wrong company, with the wrong inflection or add a sucker to it and my friend you have crossed the line. That said, here are a bunch of cocks we have seen  in the field.

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Pheasant Hunting in Regent, ND

Regent, North Dakota is a favorite pheasant hunting destination. We hunt with Cannonball Company who always does a terrific job. Pheasant numbers were down this year, as they are everywhere, but there were plenty of birds to go around.

Here is an amazing pheasant sculpture just outside of town. These are huge, the cock’s legs are probably 12 feet tall.

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High Country Ptarmigan

After a skunk on Sage Grouse in North Park we headed for the high country to see if we could redeem ourselves on Ptarmigan. I had never hunted them before and wasn’t sure what to expect.

The country where these birds live is magnificent and ruggedly beautiful. Well above the tree line, the vistas and views are breathtaking.  Had we not seen any birds, the hike alone would have been worth the effort.

This is a different kind of hunt. Most upland game birds stay well concealed in the bush and when you get close (and sometimes when you aren’t close at all) they flush providing an opportunity to exercise your finely tuned wing shooting skills. Not these guys. They sit out in the open and watch you approach with only casual interest. You can look at the covey and count them, pick out the one you want, take a picture and then push into them to get them to fly. Some will take off, which is fun, but others will just run a bit and then sit and watch.

Ptarmigan are beautiful and delicate creatures. They are much smaller than I expected. Their bodies are about the size of a large dove but their thick coat of down and feathers make them look larger. In hand they are incredibly soft and feel almost mushy. I don’t think they put out much scent or at least scent that dogs associate with game birds. Bird dog Rio never really lock up on them and the points we did get were sight points, I think. We had 10 or so right in front of us and she paid them little mind, she was off looking for something else. Possibly the altitude has something to do with that or maybe I had a defective dog.

We had a good time hiking at the top of the world but the hunting was not as challenging as hoped. Possibly if we hadn’t found birds in the first 30 minutes and had hiked all day I would have a different story.  The biggest challenge on this hunt was to not scar an expensive shotgun as we negotiated some very rough terrain while operating on 25% less oxygen. We lucked out with perfect weather (a week later all this was under a foot of snow) and it was certainly great to be out there. Ptarmigan have been added to the annual hunt calendar.

These birds are perfectly camouflaged for their world. If they didn’t move it would be easy to miss them.

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Colorado Dove Opening Day 2011

This year it was a perfectly comfortable morning for the opening of dove season in northern Colorado. The day heated up fast but remained pleasant and bug-free if you stayed in the shade. We topped out in the mid-90s, which is hot for us but pretty nice compared to our sweaty friends in states south of us who hunted in 100+ degrees. Hope they kept their dogs watered.

In Colorado there is a reliable and unfortunate pattern to the dove migration around opening day. We see dove everywhere all summer long – perched on wires, cooing on roof tops, swooping from tree to tree and pooping on my truck – but sometime a week or so before 9/1 they disappear. This is usually attributed to a late August cold snap but this year it was hot up to the 1st and yet their pattern of disappearance still held true. I had not seen a dove for a week when we headed out on Thursday morning. We hunted with the nice folks at Longmeadow. They have about 4,000 acres and have built a really nice event center about an hour and a half northeast of Denver.

Though the number of birds were greatly diminished from a week or two ago, there were still plenty around for us to get our limit, which we did before lunch. It was not what you would call solid white hot action but there were times when we had more birds coming in than we could handle. It was a great start to the bird hunting season.

My hunting buddy enjoying a morning of truancy.

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