Oh, man I just love fall. I love the colors, the smell, the way the air feels… It just has a different energy from the rest of the year. So combine that with going out to look for Bob’s antelope and going Pheasant hunting for the first time and it makes for a great time!
First I want to tell you this story… I guess about 13 years ago I had said to my dad that I wanted to hunt pheasant so my dad was on the lookout for a shotgun for me. Well, while he and my mom were in Billings she had him stop at Shopko and he went to go look at guns and was eyeing a 20 gauge they had there for $230 but decided not to get it. So they get ready to leave and as he goes out the door, the blue light starts flashing and the voice over the loudspeaker announces that the Remington 20 gauge is on blue light special! Did you guys know they really did blue light specials? And I do want to know who controlled what went on special, maybe the guy at the gun counter who saw this fella looking at a particular gun? Anyway, dad goes back in there and the gun is on special so he goes ahead and buys it. Then when he gets home, there’s a rebate in one of his hunting magazines so he sends that in and get twenty bucks back. And now he’s got my gun. But unfortunately it didn’t get out much until now. And once you hear the rest of this, you might pity it even more!
Now for page two… (Anybody get that? Huh?) Well, anyhow Bob and I took our 4 yr old son, Robby, with us and piled in the truck with my dad and went looking for antelope at daylight.
We drove out towards Grass Range to hunt out at the Ayer’s Hutterite Colony and entered the first pasture. We soon realized we had picked the wrong day to hunt that area because it was the weekend that there were cattle buyers in town and a lot of the area rancher’s were gathering up calves to ship. So as we drove in we were met with cattle semi’s, bawling cattle and horses and riders on the move. We went ahead and checked the entire area that we had permission to hunt on, but the antelope had all been pushed out into the neighboring ranches.
Since we hadn’t had any luck with the antelope we decided to go home and change gear and get the dogs to go out Pheasant hunting. We loaded up with shotguns and Bob’s bow, just in case…
My dad hunts two Brittany Spaniels, Joe and Dex, that are eight and ten years old so they have a lot of experience. And we have a Brittany Spaniel/Golden Retriever cross we call CC. She is almost two and this was her first time out. We really should have had her out before and we have mostly worked with her on obedience training, but she has always been pretty keen on pointing so we were hoping she hadn’t lost some of that natural instinct.
As we got out of the truck,there were some Pheasant feathers on the ground and I showed them to CC and she got pretty excited and dad’s dogs started sweeping along, nose to the ground. We took off up along a draw with dad on one side and Bob and I on the other. Dad’s dog flushed a hen right away but we can only shoot roosters so we continued on. Our dog swept in and out of the long grass and brush, coming back to check in with us and then taking off again. I think she thought at first that we were just out for a nice walk when all of a sudden as she was running excitedly after a scent she surprised a hen that flew up right in front of her. She jumped up after it as it flew and then came back to us, running all out and you could see in her eyes that she knew what was up now. She became a bit more focused and followed dad’s dogs more closely as they scoured the bottom of the coulee. They scared up a few pheasant here and there and Bob and Dad got a few shots off with no luck.
On our way back down, we went through a hailed-out barley field and Dad scared up a coyote and a few more hens and Bob tried another shot at a rooster. But we didn’t actually take any down in that field.
We crossed the road to another stubble field that edged a small ravine and we came across quite a few more birds, but dad’s dogs were hunting a bit too far out and we weren’t able to get a shot. I was especially frustrated when I decided to move on and catch up to the guys and as I walked away the dogs got up two roosters out of the ravine where I had been standing.
Day was drawing to a close and we decided to drive down and check out one more spot when dad noticed some roosters in the field off the road. Bob hopped out and intended to let me try to get around where I could try a shot too but the birds started to take off and we didn’t get a chance at them. We drove just a bit further and there was another rooster. I hopped out and he flew up right in front of me. I pumped my gun, settled it into my shoulder, squeezed the trigger… and nothing. I left my safety on. ARG!!!
Well, after that we saw a bunch of pheasant head across the stubble field and down towards the ravine in a different area. We still had 40 minutes of hunting time left as you can hunt 30 minutes after sunset so we set off after them. As we came up to the edge we saw them all coast down into the bottom. We had left the dogs because we had hoped to sneak up on them a little bit so we stood looking down the steep hill as they disappeared into the long grass and brush in the bottom. Then we all started to meander down the slope. Pheasant flew up here and there and dad shot two roosters. I didn’t get a shot and Bob tried for a couple.
So, all in all, it wasn’t entirely successful but man was it fun. I loved tromping around with the dogs and the thrill of watching those beautiful birds fly up and hearing the whir of their wings. I can’t wait to get out again. And this time I am sure I will remember to flip my safety off.