Brute’s Bleat: October 22, 2014

 

Friday’s strong winds weren’t ideal weather to hunt pheasants, but that seemed the best day for Brad and Adam Hennen, two sons, Evan and Logan, respectively, myself and three dogs, Bella, Brad and Evan’s springer spaniel pup; Adam and Logan’s Grayer, a German Shorthair; and Vanna, my English Setter. Brad was very punctual and was in our driveway at 5:30 a.m. with the rest of the troops. Had his dad, Daryl, been driving, I would have had another 10-15 minutes to get ready, but he had to mind the store (Maple Lake Lumber) and wasn’t able to hunt that day.  We enjoyed a hot breakfast in Willmar knowing it would be sandwiches and other treats that afternoon. I wished I could still eat like those two kids! 
We chose a familiar WMA (Wildlife Management Area) first which seemed to always hold birds to hunt. Another pair of hunters pulled into the parking lot just minutes before us which was kind of a disappointment, but it was large with one standing corn field which they planned to hunt. That left us with a harvested bean crop next to some low land which looked good to us. We spread out in some grass working our way toward the low land at the end of the bean field. We flushed five hens out of the grass, but we were working with the wind and they jumped well ahead of the dogs. The cattails didn’t hold any roosters either, but there hadn’t been much corn harvested in the area yet and we figured that was probably where they were early in the morning.  Our next choice was a three-cornered piece with a railroad track and a grove of evergreens on one corner and cattails along one side.  As good as it looked we didn’t find any birds in it until I worked my way around a low spot of cattails just across the road, but still in the WMA. Brad, Adam, Evan and Logan got back to the vehicle first and came down the township road to pick me up. Vanna got hot just as we approached the road and was working her way along the road. Not having seen any birds in the larger part of the WMA, I figured it might be a skunk or some other critter.  Anyway, she stayed right on the scent as it crossed the road into the main part of the WMA and the cattails. Moments later the bird flushed and Brad hollered rooster, I shot twice and nothing fell, although Adam said later he was about to dig out $4 and let them flutter to the ground for first bird rights. 
We tried hunting farther south in the afternoon in spots we found familiar, but either didn’t find any birds or only hens, three in one area.  Both Grayer and Vanna had points at different times but the birds seemed to have vanished. We found out there were a fair number of hunters out and tried to pick something we felt may not have been hunted yet. We worked our way back to Milan and Adam zeroed in on some grass that looked good. It would be our last opportunity for the day. With the wind still blowing we worked our way downwind planning to come back against the wind on the opposite side. Bella found a scent which she stayed on while going downwind. 
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