Pheasant Hunting January 2013
Today was a great day of pheasant hunting! I drove to an area southeast of Kiowa, Co, through the high plains and rolling hills topped with pine trees as the day’s first light burned off a heavy fog that hung low to the ground. The sun hadn’t broken the horizon yet, but there was enough light to see multiple herds of deer and antelope getting out for their morning grazing, jumping fences with the ease of a house cat jumping onto a couch. I stopped and took a picture of five mule deer cresting a hill as the sunrise burned red in the sky behind them. The drive alone was beautiful.
I met my guide Chad and his two yellow labs, Rio and Miko at an old abandoned homestead surrounded by hundreds of acres of rolling hills, thick cover, and a creek bed lined with cottonwoods stark naked in the morning sun, their white bark reflecting brightly as the sun rose low in the eastern sky. I had never hunted pheasants with labs before; their behavior is quite different from a pointer. When they get on a bird, they don’t stop and point or freeze like a flushing dog will do, they just get all excited, with their tails wagging wildly and their noses about an inch above the ground. It was quite amazing to watch them work.
The dogs were well-trained and stayed within 15 yards of Chad and me. If they got any farther, Chad would blow his whistle once, and they would come back. They scoured back and forth across the fields, checking every piece of cover, and finding birds consistently for me. They put up five birds, and I shot three of them, the other two I didn’t get a shot at. One rooster was near some trees, and I could see him on the ground, but you never shoot a bird on the ground, so I waited for the dogs to put him up. When he flew, he flew right behind the trees, so I had no shot. Another rooster was on the other side of a tall, old wooden fence. We moved to the other side of the fence, and Miko got the rooster up quickly. The rooster went up for about 8 feet in the air, then went right down the other side of that fence before I could get a shot.
At one point we came to the top of a hill that had a small strip of pine trees with thick brush at their bases, some old farm implements lying around, and tall, heavy prairie grass surrounding it all, it was the perfect place for a pheasant to be. The dogs combed through every cranny of that cover, and sure enough a bird shot out of the far end at lightning speed. It got into the air so fast I barely had time to react, but I turned and put a good shot on him about 25 yards away.
I had a great time; three birds with three shells is a good day of hunting, and it was just good to be out on a glorious Colorado day. It had been a long time since I have hunted with dogs, which I think is one of the most amazing things a person can experience.