Brute’s Bleat November 4, 2015

A synopsis of hunting pheasants in North Dakota’s oil patch country this year would be it wasn’t as good for us as a year ago, but it still was a good time. Each of the three dogs, Vanna, Lucky and Bella, made their handlers, myself, Mike Muller and Daryl Hennen, proud. That being said we left Maple Lake at about 4:30 a.m. Sunday and arrived in White Earth (about 8 miles east of Tioga) at 2:45 p.m. staying with Ken Muller, who operates a foam insulation business there. We hunted some of the same parcels as a year ago, but found the pheasants scarce. Hennen had the first and only bird for the few hours we hunted on Sunday and was the $1.00 winner. On Monday we hunted west of Alamo and Muller wounded a rooster, but none of the dogs could come up with the bird, despite a diligent effort. He also had the second bird along with two more before the day was over. Hennen and I each had one. That evening, with tongue in cheek, I questioned paying on Mike’s second bird in our first bird contest, but lost the argument! On a rainy and windy Tuesday Ken joined us because it was too cold for foam insulation work. We hunted on some private property (Rod’s) which was great a year ago. Our analysis was that we hunted like rank amateurs and didn’t post the tree lines properly and consequently the roosters had a good escape route and we were left empty-handed! You’d think a guy 82 years old would know better. Later in the day we hunted a tree line and Vanna and Lucky gave me a double point and first bird honors. I had a second opportunity but couldn’t catch up with the bird in the gale-like wind. Mike said he just missed too many and Ken didn’t get much shooting. Toward evening two of Ken’s friends (Joe and Cory) took us out to a couple of hot spots and Hennen harvested one rooster while the brothers shot three. Hennen might have had one more, but all he got was a loud click when he forgot to reload after crossing a fence. It was 37 degrees that evening when we quit hunting. The ground was white with snow Wednesday morning and after a couple of hours of road hunting and spotting only one bird, Hennen decided our time could be better spent remodeling the entrance to a shed to accommodate Ken’s height. Mike, Ken and Daryl are shown as they laid out the second door’s dimensions.
Early Thursday morning we left for the Al Gustin ranch south of Mandan where we planned to finish up our hunt. Our first efforts were field edges and a creek bottom where Daryl scored first on a bird that also gave him the longest tail and largest spur. Vanna gave me a point along the creek and I knocked the bird down. Vanna stuck with it and pinned it down on the opposite side of the creek until I caught up with her. Next we hunted some gullies and Lucky gave Mike some points and he connected on two. Hennen and I were walking out the upper end of a gully where Daryl knocked down a rooster which Bella ran down in relatively short order, retrieving the bird for him.
We ended up with 16 roosters including three from Joe and Cory, agreeing we all should have shot better.
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The best hunting report I’ve come across is from Jim Churchill who hunted with his wife, Jodi, in South Dakota. Jim said they harvested 24 birds and would have had their 30-bird limit had he been shooting better.