Monday, October 31, 2011

Pheasant Hunting with the Pups

Molly Set for action

This past weekend offered up a chance for a couple pheasant hunts in north west Wisconsin with my good friend Dave, his chocolate lab Barley and my rookie black lab Molly. Since Molly is still learning the ropes of bird hunting and what she is expected to do, I thought a round of pheasant hunting may be easier than crawling through the thick tag alder swamps of the Blue Hills near Bruce, WI like we normally would do. I started researching areas to hunt and found the Tom Lawin Wildlife Area* near Jim Falls. The DNR stocks hens and roosters there and since it would be a week day hunt, maybe the pressure would be a little less (wrong). Besides, it was a chance to scout duck hunting as well since we had never been in this area.

The habitat here was perfect, tall grass prairie, mixed brush and cornfield edges with plenty of cattail swamps. Very similar to the terrain we hunt in north Dakota. The dogs seem to pick up scent from time to time, get birdy, then return to normal patrol mode. Nothing going after a solid two hours of hunting. We decided to try another section of the wildlife area, were fields were smaller and a good wet swamp running through it. Corn was being cut nearby so maybe we'd do better here. That proved to be the case as the dogs hit on fresh scent and put a covey of hens up (legal to shoot here with proper pheasant stickers). I managed to put one down and Molly did well on the retrieve. A rooster crowed nearby, but we failed to find him. We managed to get one more bird up when Molly dove into some tall grass cover, but I managed to just take a few branches off a tree as she flew off.

The amount of birds in the game pouch really didn't matter, we hunt to have a chance to shoot and sometimes the misses are far better stories later than hits. The labs had a great time and my young one seems to learn more and more every time out, which is just great to watch. Perhaps on a different day, closer to when birds are stocked, we'd had better shooting and more action, but again, one can still have a very successful hunt without a limit to clean. The best part, as always, is relaxing afterward next to the truck, chatting up the hunt and on this day, watching the snow clouds move in from the west and knowing we'll be back in the field soon.
Steve, Molly, Barley and Dave