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Jeff
JEFF
IDLEMAN

Cockleburs

I Had a Great Time

Fri, December 16, 2011

Two very different hunts but both great.  Pictures to follow.

Day One – Mr. Drysdale snuggled up to a former neighbor and managed to worm an invite to a free upland permit near Clinton. Rob left the door a little open so The Prairie Fox, The Admiral, Iron Mike and I all climbed aboard.  OK – it’s late in the season, birds are smart, numbers are way down and expectations were fairly low.  One of those weird days that seem to be more and more common in the past few years.  Started out in the mid-50’s and drizzly then kept getting colder and windier as the day went on.

The thing we had on our side was dog power.  We had three springers and a lab. I know none of them are the very best bird dogs but they are all willing to root around in the grass and their noses are light years better than ours.

Right out of the chute we bumped into several pheasants. Boom, boom, boom – one in the bag and everyone was wide awake.  As we headed north, we encountered cover that was about two feet over my head, no exaggeration. As the group plunged in, birds started erupting everywhere.  At least 30 pheasants got out of this dense area and the guns started blazing.  I could barely see anything but one rooster finally got up close enough I could shoot.  Raised my trusty Franchi and “click.”  Misfire.  Ejected the shell. Definite primer strike but no ignition. Had cleaned the gun immaculately before the season opened but something was wrong.  This had happened before as The Admiral gleefully reminded me.  The gun was so light to carry that I insisted on carrying it even though it only fired when the muse was with it.  What a smart guy I am.

Everyone else had blazed away and we were definitely in the swing of things.  We implemented our FTD policy and the group split up as we started Following The Dogs in different directions. The birds were scattered now and we would find them as singles.  My hips were starting to burn from pulling through the tall grass but we soldiered on.  Suddenly a rooster got up less than 10 feet away.  I spun to shoot and “click.”  My trusty Franchi misfired again.  Aaargh. 

Everyone else was getting occasional shots and there was plenty of cover yet to go through. Finally, as we neared the end of another big patch, a rooster popped up behind me.  I spun and finally got off a shot.  Yahoo!! Got one.  Later another rooster popped up and I managed to miss him twice fair and square, no excuses.  All the dogs were working well and were invaluable in making retrieves in the tall grass.

The Kodak moment of the day was when we were taking a breather and looked up to see a rooster way up there flying overhead.  No idea where he came from but The Admiral without hesitation launched a S.A.M. in his direction and the bird plummeted to earth.  My nominee for the best shot of the season so far.

Good group of guys, excellent cover and we all got in some shooting.

Day Two – Went to Jim Edgar Panther Creek to meet Danelle and Larry Oliver and see my new pup Hobbes in action.  He was born May 1 and it was time for his mid-terms. Son Alex came along.  Had never been to this site before.  Was impressed with the sheer size of it and we were assigned cover to ourselves.  No bumping into the guys with Rotweilers like we’ve seen at other controlled hunting sites. 

The point was to let some young dogs get exposure to birds and see what happens.  I had forgotten how much fun it was to watch young dogs (both Hobbes and his brother Calvin were in on the action) really hunting for the first time.  They looked like kangaroos as they bounced through the tall grass and kept checking where we and the other dogs were.  We had 5 dogs down at one time and it was definitely a “riot” of springers. Pheasants have to get nervous when they see dog after dog careening by.

The pups didn’t know exactly what to do but they were totally into finding birds and Hobbes even made two retrieves, his first “real” ones.  We found some birds early on, went through a long dry spell and then found a flurry of birds near the end.  Plenty of action for everyone.  Alex knocked down a bird that was in a different zip code and the dogs quickly brought it back.

The weather was great, good cover, everyone got some shooting and the dogs gained some valuable experience. The funniest scene of the day was when the first bird was shot and landed in a bean field. Hobbes and his mother Daphne took off for the retrieve and arrived in a tie. After a brief tussle, Hobbes grabbed one wing and Mom the other.  They came back to Danelle in this mode.  Neither one would give up. That’s my boy.

Comments

Cleverly winnowing buyers pool for your Franchi….Great day afield with friends.

Posted by Mr Drysdale on December 19

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