Brute’s Bleat: December 18, 2013


I used part of last Friday to get my Clam fishhouses down from their summer storage spots in the garage, so I really don’t have any good reason not to get out fishing. It sounds like most of the local lakes have a good foot of ice which is enough for little cars, like our Focus; but I’d hesitate to drive the Suburbans on the ice.  I don’t have any hot tips for winter anglers and the best advice I can provide would be to start drilling holes and use a Vexilar or similar unit to see if there are any fish.  If not, just keep moving around until the Vexilar shows a lot of red.  There’s been some activity on Maple Lake and that might be a good lake to try. With some warm weather in the week’s forecast I hope to get out. 
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Vana and I went for a ride with Ed Trager, his son, Cole, and their dog, Sadie, out west to Milan on Saturday in kind of a dual-purpose trip. Mainly to retrieve Ed’s 4-wheeler which he had his brother outfit with a snow blade; and secondly to hunt pheasants.  The weather was cold and the roads may not have been 100%, but they were tolerable as we headed west. We loaded up the 4-wheeler and then headed for an unharvested soybean field on Ed’s brother’s property. The pheasants weren’t feeding anymore, about 11:30 a.m., or we spooked them into the heavier cover when we stopped.  I’ve always considered late season hunting my favorite, especially when there’s enough snow to see where they’ve been running.  So the conditions were right and we started putting up birds when we got near and into the cattails.  Ed got the first bird on a relatively long shot and he and Cole doubled up on number two, a bird which fell in the cattails. Ed had it pretty well marked and both dogs got a workout with Vana coming up with the rooster.  In the meantime yours truly missed a straight-away shot and was reloading when a second rooster took flight.  Walking in the fluffy snow wasn’t a problem, but there were lots of cow humps along the cattails which gave all three of us a workout.  Ed got the third bird when a bunch of hens and roosters exploded out of a willow thicket.  I blasted away twice at a rooster that got up behind us, missing both times. Ed’s 12-gauge was again lethal and the bird fell dead into some thick cattails.  He, I and the two dogs made a good effort to find the bird, but to no avail and we left the area electing not to shoot over the cattails.  We put up alot of hens as we made our way back to the road and I had a great broadside shot at the last rooster we put up.  I missed it twice and I’m at a loss to why I could blow such a great opportunity. Ed was being charitable and passed up on the same bird. Cole figured he enjoys earlier season pheasant hunting more, and commented he thought he and his dad should concentrate more on ducks next year after having some great shooting this fall.     .      .    We were about a mile down the road on our way back when I suddenly discovered I didn’t have my glasses on.  Apparently I had left them on the pickup’s tail gate and in the process of shedding some cold weather gear, had swept them off into the snow.  Anyway, all is well that ends well and Ed spied them where we had parked.  That reminded me of an earlier trip out to western North Dakato’s oil patch when I mistakenly put on Daryl Hennen’s glasses, noticed the blur and wondered to myself how I was going to shoot, much less see pheasants clearly. I realized what had happened when Hennen couldn’t find his specks.  The other problem with glasses was a long time ago when four of us, Daryl Hennen, George Rose, the late Roger Niedzielski and I were hunting in South Dakota and pitched our tents (we never did that again) in Miller. Roger and I shared a domed tent and I hung my glasses on one of the supports. It had been a couple of cold nights and the next morning we got up and immediately rolled up the tents with my glasses still in the tent.  They came out bent, but usable, and the moral of the story is I hope I can rely on the “three time and out” theory. 
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My best wishes to the Messenger subscribers for a very merry Christmas as you get together with family and friends for the holidays. The days and weeks leading up to Christmas may seem hectic at times and we hope each of you will remember the true meaning, that the Christ Child was born, a story that is retold in churches every Christmas.