Hunting partner Lil is starting to really show her age at 13. Am amazed she still hunted this year.
A few thoughts as the 2012 upland season draws to a close.
—Hanging out with friends and enjoying our times in the field. Something about being with others who have drunk the Kool-Aid makes you feel better about yourself. Spent 3 days in S.E. Iowa with Mr. Drysdale and his father. Great cover, good time visiting, very few birds.
—Watching my 13-year old Springer Lil make it through one more season. It’s a struggle but when she gets on a hot scent, she can still take off in high gear with all the enthusiasm she had as a pup. Cataracts are limiting vision, almost completely deaf but still willing.
—Made one circus shot while hunting alone that is still satisfying to think about. Rooster flushed wild about 75 yards in front of us on a wooded hillside (so far that even Jeff Lampe probably wouldn’t have shot.) For some unknown reason, he started curving toward me as he picked up steam. I noticed an opening in the branches and snapped off a shot as he passed at about 40 yards. He collapsed and came crashing down through the branches. Lil made the retrieve, one of precious few this year.
—One memorable miss. Wind around 25 mph and Lil and I were hunting into it. She punched out a rooster about 30 yards ahead that started flying to my right but then caught the wind and flew by me. I missed him cleanly 3 times in a row and I’m pretty positive that I shot behind him every time. After each shot I was sure I had nailed him and never even came close.
—Noticed a continuing decline in quality cover. With high crop prices, there is low interest in renewing CRP contracts. Most cornfields were disked and waterways mowed (not sure why.) The public ground we hunted needs controlled burning but I’m sure the lack of funding prevents that. My access to decent hunting areas has shrunk dramatically. An inability to draw a free upland permit doesn’t help. Went to places I have hunted for the past 10-12 years and think bird populations are as low as they’ve ever been.
—All in all, a very sparse year. Shot 4 pheasants and only missed 2 other opportunities. Went out several times, none to upland permit areas. Missed out on the usual pheasant trip to N.W. Iowa. Talked with some people who hunted public ground in the Spirit Lake, IA area and South Dakota and had good trips. Will have to break down next year and bite off the extra driving needed to get to better hunting.
Enough of my whining. How was your season? Hopefully, there were some more productive hunts.