Sleep came quickly, and the beauty of sleeping in allowed Jody to cook up some pancakes before we were to brave this day’s brisk 17 degrees! Unlike the day before, the wind is mostly absent, and the sun is bright with skies clear of foreboding clouds. We bundle up, and even though it has “warmed” up to 19 degrees, it feels significantly warmer than the day before. Most of us are surprised to find ourselves somewhat sore in the “groinal” area, and tops of our thighs. It feels like we did a 10,000 yard swim set, all of which was kicking. Apparently wading through thick vegetation for a couple miles will do that to ya.
We load up in our vehicles and follow “Chuck” and his dog “Sam” to this morning’s hunt location. Chuck tells us that in South Dakota (during hunting season) we can have our shotguns in the passenger seat with rounds in the magazine (NOT in the chamber) just in case we spy a bird along the way to our field. Awesome! In earnest we all scan the edges of the roadway as we drive. On the way we bag one bird, standing on the roadside.
We arrive at one of Roy’s fields (he has 12,000 acres as a 5th generation “Homesteader”) and pile out of our vehicles. This walk will be about a mile. Once vehicles are shuttled to the end of the row, we begin. No sooner does Chuck release his dog and give her the command, “find the bird, Sam”, Sam flushes one up and it is taken down quickly. We miss the next two that are flushed and then the next three, Sam catches herself and brings them back to us. I’m a little annoyed, but then I think, ‘this dog is smarter than all of us’. In her dog brain she must be thinking, “it’s f@$^%$g cold out, and if these numbskulls keep missing, I’m gonna freeze my nuts off, if I had them”. Hence the capture of the next three. Back on track, we take down another 4 birds, one of which includes a perfect shot…mine.
All head, no body. No pellets to pick out of the meat.
Paul is the first one with a limit, and the rest of us quickly follow. Within an hour and having only to walk a mile, we all have our limit.
It is 1130 am! Now what to do? We head back, clean the birds and have lunch. The boys are going to try their luck with varmits…coyotes to be exact. Even though they are a “nuisance” animal, I won’t shoot anything I won’t eat…unless it tries to kill me or my dog. Jody and I on the other hand, will go back to yesterday’s field and try our luck at grouse and partridge in the lower cut area of the field.
We kick up, and are startled by a dozen “flying footballs” (Hungarian Partridges), with no time to get a shot off. Those things fly a zillion miles an hour…away from you, land a tenth of a mile away from you and then run another 100 yards away. We (I) discover that without a dog, this is futile, but it is better than sitting on our butts at the Lodge. We then take on the task of finding and stalking as many pheasant as we can. With mild success.
Often it is a “Where’s Waldo” kind of event.
Even though we have our limit, nothing says that I can’t shoot pictures of them. Eventually one “poses” for us.
This occupies the bulk of the afternoon, and we somewhat fullfill our most daunting and ridiculous task…take a “selfie” with a live, and uncooperative, lone pheasant.
After more than enough fun and laughter in the quickly “cooling” afternoon, we return to the lodge to catch the boys returning empty handed,
and, a marvelous sunset.