Hunting & Fishing for Stories & Photos

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bird Dogs, Roosters, and Babies

What more is there in life? We headed back to Nichole’s family farm in Kansas for the holidays and to chase the wily rooster pheasants. First, I got to warm up the shotgun and the dogs on a few pesky pigeons. Three shots led to three dead birds! Ruby retrieved the first, Lacey found the second on a blind retrieve, and Ruby picked up the third. It was a great start!

Warming Up On Pigeons

On Ruby’s first pheasant hunt and what I thought might have been Lacey’s last, a bunch of birds exploded from a field corner with both dogs in the heavy cover. After missing the first rooster, I connected on the next and watched with tears in my eyes as the dogs worked together to find the downed bird. With more energy and much younger legs, Ruby found the dead bird first and delivered it to my hand.

Swanson’s Prairie Red Gemstone aka “Ruby” - First Pheasant Retrieve

I had to throw it for Lacey, too!

Passing the torch from Lacey (right) to Ruby… their first pheasant together!

Swanson’s Laced With Gold aka “Lacey”

It also allowed me the opportunity to show Mattox his first pheasant. He loved the bright colors and soft feathers!

The next night a storm blew in that dropped a couple inches of snow, perfect for bunching up the birds and tracking. Heath and I headed out early and found one bird in the tree row south of his sheds. I dropped it in the middle of two nearly-impenetrable cedar rows, so by the time I forced my way through with snow cascading down my back, the bird was gone. There were dog tracks completely circling the spot in the snow where the bird fell, but no dog in sight either. Then from out of the dense tree row, Ruby came bounding with the bird held proudly in her mouth—her second retrieve of a pheasant was a runner! We hunted a few more spots and I ended up with three birds while Heath bagged one. Not too bad for three hours of hunting…

Kansas pheasants in the snow… I can’t think of anything better!

And for a little historical perspective: My Dad and his friends started hunting pheasants in Kansas in 1972 (the year I was born) when Nebraska shortened its season and lowered the bag limit. They have made it back nearly ever year since. I started joining them as soon as they would let me, and although I've missed a few years, it is still one of my favorite places to hunt!

My first pheasant hunting trip to Kansas as a bundled-up 6-year-old.