Brute’s Bleat December 7, 2016

I may have found the answer to getting some pheasants rather than walking for a couple of hours and maybe flushing one or two roosters. Actually, it was Mike Muller’s idea to go to the Gold Meadows pheasant farm out of Cold Spring last Tuesday where 12 birds were put out for the three of us, Mike and Ken Muller and myself, to hunt. We ended up harvesting 11 birds and should have had about 14 if my aim would have been better. We hunted mostly unharvested corn and some grass which gave the dogs a good workout as well the three of us. Mike’s dog, Lucky, had the most points of the two English Setters. Vanna had a hen pheasant pinned against a corn stalk and ended up grabbing the bird when it couldn’t fly away. She probably saved me some embarrassment had it flown and I missed it! While walking one stretch of corn I came across two unfired 12 gauge shells (2 3/4 in.) a previous hunter had lost which fit my older O/U Red Label. I’ve changed my mind about labelling pheasant farms as ‘hunting in a chicken coop’ after I missed birds on several attempts. Mike and Ken were about even on pheasant kills and I brought up the rear. Gold Meadows makes it fun and provides a fair amount of difficulty with a variety of habitat to hunt. It was a good experience and Janis appreciated me bringing home some birds for a change! As we were leaving Gold Meadows two roosters and a hen were standing on the township road and were reluctant to give us the right-of-way until we were within about 10 feet of them. We stopped at the Lodge in Marty on the way back to ML. Marty has a reputation for a Wednesday special, bologna and sauerkraut, while their Tuesday special was tacos. . . On Thursday Mike and I made a trip down to Windom and Jackson, again to chase roosters. Unfamiliar with the area we stopped at the DNR regional office for maps and some general information about that area. The staff there was really helpful, providing the maps we needed and even high-lighting the Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) that contained food plots, which we felt would be a plus. The DNR guy that helped us was from the Lac Qui Parle area and was looking forward to getting back there. His father is the present manager of the refuge which provides blinds for waterfowl hunters. We hunted south of Windom and west toward Heron Lake that afternoon which has an abundance of large WMAs. We tried a tree and brush line first and while we were walking I heard a rooster crow in the adjacent tall, thick grass. Mike figured that was our best bet as we didn’t get any flushes in the bushes. He had a nice rooster when I got back to the car. Vanna and I had a great time flushing hens. Some were in small flocks and I counted 15 with three more that flushed so far ahead I couldn’t determine the sex. The only other rooster we saw that day was headed from a harvested cornfield into some grass toward evening on private property. We stayed in Jackson that night and hunted a WMA with a lot of standing corn in strips the next morning that looked great. When we didn’t flush anything on the first trip through we decided grass might be the ticket. We planned to make a wide circle and head back to the car if we didn’t get any birds up. I got back to the car first and waited for about 20 minutes. When Mike didn’t show, I figured he and his setter, Lucky, must be on some birds. He said he got disoriented and it took him a while to get his bearings. He was bushed so we didn’t go after two roosters I had heard. By then it was after 11 a.m. and we found ourselves on the Minnesota/Iowa line looking for another WMA. We figured there were more birds north of Jackson when we didn’t run into any hunters and I tried another spot on my own that looked good. It probably was earlier that day, but I spotted some relatively fresh boot tracks and was convinced it had been hunted that morning. As we headed back toward the Windom area, we spotted more hunters and it was difficult to find an unoccupied WMA during the golden hour. I tried a spot that had all the ingredients, food, water and shelter. Muller said he would guard the car so Vanna and I walked a field edge down to a gully where a rooster surprised both of us. My O/U barked twice, but the rooster flew away. Vanna put up a couple of hens and I was tempted, but sanity prevailed. Our analysis of the area was there’s lots of good pubic land to hunt and we should have been there about a month ago. Maybe next year!
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On Sunday I teamed up with Daryl Hennen for a late start hunting the Sunburg area. To make a long story short, he shot at a coyote. Vanna put up the only pheasant, a hen. There were a fair number of hunters out and a huge lack of birds.