Pheasant Hunting in Colordao

 

While the storm in the northeast seems to have been less than the devastation than what was predicted, it still caused a lot of damage and left a lot of people in the dark.  All of my friends and friends of friends or families are OK.  I wish the best for those who are going through what remains.

The Colorado pheasant season opens next Saturday, and I am very excited about that.  Although I won’t be able to hunt the opening weekend because of a college visit I will be attending with my son Kyle, I will be heading out as soon as I can the following week.  While some predictions are a bit dire because of the drought we had here (there weren’t enough bugs for the birds), I am going to hunt the pheasants with the enthusiasm as if one will flush at every foot step.  And if I walk out of the field at dusk without a bird in my vest, it will still have been a successful hunt.  For me it is the experience, not the harvest, that determines a successful hunt, and I just want to get out in the field.

If you followed my past posts, you know that I missed elk hunting/guiding this year, which was very disappointing.  So for me, getting my shotgun in my hands and traipsing through the open fields and thick draws of eastern Colorado is on my mind like a race horse waiting for the gate to open.  I don’t care that I will likely be by myself, without a bird dog, I just want to get out there and do it.  Of course not having hunting partners or a dog greatly reduces my chances for success, it is the experience that I want, and need.

Growing up in Kansas there were bountiful pheasants and quail in my youthful hunting days.  I remember my first pheasant hunt and how startled I was when a rooster flushed so close to me with the loud sound of its pounding wings that all I could do was watch it fly away like a fighter jet on the breeze of a Kansas fall wind.  I thought pheasants were fast until I flushed my first covey of quail with the help of Tandy, my uncle’s German Shorthair Pointer.  Needless to say, my early days of upland bird hunting were challenging.

But after that first hunt, I spent hours upon hours shooting clay pigeons, from all throws and angles, in wind, without wind, against the sun, in the rain, everything.  I worked hard at it, and eventually I had the confidence I needed.  I also got a very well-bred Springer Spaniel that my Dad and I named Duke, named after a Springer that he had when he was young.  It took a while to train Duke, he was afraid of the report of a shotgun at first, but he turned out to be a great bird dog.  There is nothing more satisfying in my opinion than hunting birds behind a dog; it is just an amazing experience.  Even for you people who don’t hunt, that is something you should witness in your life time.

With my dog and my 16 Gauge I learned to hunt pheasant and quail, and those were some of the best times of my youth.  Duke was a great bird dog, and he was patient with me, like Grandpa Earl was.  He would have a bird on stance, just waiting for me to give him the “go.”  I am sure there were many times where he was so faithful to his training that he stood there where he should, knowing well that the bird had run off, waiting for me to say “Go Duke!”  On those times, he would simply loosen his stance and turn around to look at me, as if to say “The bird’s gone you idiot.”  Duke was a good dog, and a good friend.

Now I don’t have a bird dog, and unless I can get Kyle to go with me, I’ll be pheasant hunting alone, which won’t be the first time.  Any good upland bird hunter will call me an idiot, like Duke did, for going out hunting pheasants alone; they will run long before they will fly.  But sometimes I can outsmart them, like walking a ditch where there is no escape but to fly.  Or pausing often and making them nervous enough to fly.

Regardless, I will go pheasant hunting.  As I said, it is the experience for me, just being out on the high prairie on a fall day, no matter what the weather, being in the wild, that’s why I do it.