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Jeff
JEFF
IDLEMAN

Cockleburs

2011 Upland Opener

Mon, November 07, 2011

Mr. Drysdale with Libby and Maggie

Mr. D

Mr. Drysdale, Terry, Danvers Dan and Larry the Prairie Fox after a very successful opener.  Stars of the show in the front row are Lil, Libby and Maggie.

group

I would be lying if I said I was optimistic about last Saturday’s Illinois upland opener.  Nasty winters, cold wet springs, continued reductions in CRP acres, not many birds to begin with – prospects don’t look good.

However, you never know what you’re going to find until you get there; that’s why it’s hunting.  So when we got together for the season’s first hunt, there was still a glimmer of hope that something good might happen.  To make it interesting, the spot we chose to start with was one of the last covers we hunted last season.  It’s a half mile section of ditch that has tall grass and some extra nasty brush in the filter strips adjacent to it.  On our last hunt, with snow filling all the cover, we had found a grand total of one hen.  This has been a very productive cover in the past but had looked played out last January.

Larry, the Prairie Fox (think Rommel in WWII), had designed a detailed strategy on how to deploy and approach the cover.  His plan was a good one and based on previous mistakes.  Danvers Dan, Lil the springer and I were on the southern flank and we were to meet the northern flank in a pincher movement at the head of the ditch and push to the east simultaneously.  As we closed in on the ditch, a very nice 10-point buck jumped out of his bed in the waist high grass about 15 yards in front of Dan. Wow! It’s always cool to get that close to a large buck.

As we started our drive to the east, a rooster flushed 5 yards behind me headed west.  I swung around a little awkwardly and managed to knock him down. The skunk was out of the box.  As we worked to the east, more birds flushed from the heavy brush and most of them were roosters. Guns blazed, birds dropped and by the time we reached the end we had 5 in the bag.  Gloom and doom be gone, this was a very good hunt.

We then moved to a large CRP patch, mostly brome, surrounded by open fields.  Mr. Drysdale had both of his springers, Libby and Maggie, and my dog Lil joined them in quartering through the cover.  Mr. D. dubbed it a “riot of springers” and I think that was pretty close.  It was really fun to watch Maggie the puppy get into the action. She looks like an English pointer.  Ears, long legs and can run like a jack rabbit. We flushed one rooster here and the Prairie Fox made a good shot.

Last cover was a “Y” ditch that we worked like we did the first cover.  Lil jumped a rooster I scratched down.  He then popped up and went motoring for heavy cover against the ditch bank.  Lil was close behind and soon came out with him held proudly.  Pretty good for a 12 year old.  Danvers Dan shot another rooster on the far side of the ditch and we were done.  Our group shot 8 roosters before noon and missed several more.  Not bad at all.  This may have been the best hunt I’ll have all year but who cares.  It was still great to get out with friends, watch the dogs work and match wits with the roosters. 

Comments

Good job guys! Not bad at all for a warm-ish day.

Posted by Steven Q. Urkel on November 07

That’s awesome! You don’t hear many guys putting 8 roosters in the bag very often anymore. Gives the rest of us hope when we hit the fields! Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Mallardmike on November 07

Luck always better than skill.  I do think having multiple dogs helped a lot. Three springers is like putting 3 balls into play at the same time in a pinball game.  They just bounce everywhere. We can’t wait til we can put four down at the same time.

Posted by springer on November 07

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