Pheasant Hunting in Colorado
My first post of the new year, and I am already making progress on my goals for the year which I wrote about on the last day of 2013, you can read that article by clicking here. On the afternoon of January 2nd I headed out to the tiny town of Calhan, Colorado to spend the night there before hunting the next morning. There isn’t much to Calhan; a two-lane state highway runs through it, there is a gas station/convenience store, a few restaurants, a post office, a church, a small grocery store, and a few other businesses along with the small clump of houses that make up the town.
The Econo Lodge hotel I was staying at was on the highway at the edge of town, and it looked like it was fairly new. I checked in and got settled into my room, and then noticed a card on top of the TV that had the channel lineup. There were about 8 channels listed, and no ESPN. I thought that couldn’t be right, when I called to make my reservation I asked if they had cable and was told they did. I saw the satellite dishes on the roof when I drove in. This mattered to me because the Sugar Bowl was on that night, and it was going to be a good game. I turned on the TV and flipped through the channels, and sure enough, only 8 channels and no ESPN.
The hotel did have internet access though, so I set up my computer to see if the game was going to be broadcast online. Lucky for me, WatchESPN.com had the game on, I was relieved! I went out to one of the little restaurants, Roosters Grill, and had dinner and a couple of beers before heading back to my room. I watched the game while I read some magazines, and then went to bed, anxious for hunting the next morning.
The next morning I left the hotel just before sunrise, and it felt warm at 32 degrees out with little wind. I headed north on a narrow dirt road that never veered east or west in the slightest as I drove seven miles over the rolling hills and high plains to meet my guide Rich and his dogs at Rocky Mountain Roosters. After meeting Rich there we drove a mile further north to an abandoned farm that was scattered with dilapidated out buildings, a collapsed farm house, and a big barn that looked like a strong wind could blow it down.
The land had some open flat areas, some rolling hills, and a drainage cutting through the center of it that was choked with enormous cotton wood trees and brush. I put on my hunting coat and got my gun ready while Rich let out his dogs; two English Pointers and a German Short Haired Pointer. The dogs were immediately running around in leaps and bounds, anxious to get to work. Click here to see a video.We headed towards the drainage with the dogs running what seemed like wildly out before us. I thought “How am I going to shoot a bird if they put one up that far away?”
My question was quickly answered as Jack, one of the English Pointers, froze with his tail straight up in the air and his head pointed directly in front of him. The other dogs saw Jack and they instantly froze and pointed at him, this is called “honoring the point,” and it is truly an incredible thing to watch.
Rich and I walked up to Jack, who was shivering in his excitement, yet remained perfectly still. When I was five yards away a pheasant exploded from the ground and took off flying. I raised my shotgun and brought down the bird about twenty yards away. One shot, one pheasant! What a way to start the day!
We continued on, walking the edge of the brush and trees along the drainage while the dogs scoured the thick cover, running back and forth with an amazing amount of energy. Suddenly one of the dogs went on point, and the others froze in place as they had done before. I walked towards the dog and again a pheasant burst from the weeds and took off flying. Once again, one shot, one pheasant brought to hand by the dog who had found him for me.
We continued to find birds on the morning hunt as the day began to warm up, making the snow underfoot a little slippery. I passed on a big rooster that was flying a little too low for my comfort level; I didn’t want to risk shooting a dog. I got my third bird of the morning with another perfect shot, and then I missed on a fourth bird just before we stopped for lunch. Here is another video.
When it was time to start hunting again, it had warmed up to about 50 degrees, so I shed a couple of layers of clothing before we started back out. The dogs were watered and rested, and the slight westerly breeze really helped the dogs find birds. Here is another video. We hunted a field that was thick with tall grass, sage, and tumble weeds, and at one point three pheasants flushed from almost my feet. I only got one of them, but felt pretty proud about that since the birds startled me so much when they flew up like that.
We covered a lot of ground quickly to keep up with the dogs, but they found me four more birds that afternoon. Actually they found a lot more than that, but a few took off out of range, and I missed on a couple. At the end of the day I had eight pheasants, a lot of miles on my boots, and a big smile on my face.
It was a great day of hunting, and watching the dogs work was incredible; so much so that I may consider getting an English Pointer someday. I decided to make the drive home rather than spend another night in Calhan as a big snow storm was coming the next day and I didn’t want to drive in those conditions. On the drive home I kept thinking “What a great way to start the New Year!”