Spontaneous… is there any other way to live? We left my house in Utah at six PM and arrived in the pheasant fields of Montana nine pee stops and fourteen hours later. Just in time to buy breakfast, a license, and start shooting.
My hunting companions were mostly friends I regularly hunt with, but there was one addition, Von. And Von is old. I have lots of patience and mercy for old hunters though. I know one day I will be old and I am a firm believer in karma.
Von hadn’t killed a pheasant in twenty years and when he heard we were going pheasant hunting he just had to come and shoot one last pheasant. He is pretty ill, he had a heart attack earlier this year, and doesn’t have a lot of energy. Von also has to pee about every hundred miles or so. We figured he could block and get plenty of shooting.
It was an all night drive. I can handle that, I’m a college student and that occasionally happens in my routine, (hell what routine?). But for Von it is a hair more taxing.
We released the dogs in a great looking CRP field. Lady went on point within one minute. I thought to myself “a great introduction to hunting Montana”. It ended up being a damn porcupine. Luckily I got Lady off, but my friends had a new Brittney Mollie and she dove in mouth open.
Needless to say we went from hunting mode to surgen mode real fast. I pried her mouth open while Brent and Landon used pliers to pull quills out of her mouth and tongue. Talk about a learning the hard way. That was the first porcupine of the trip, but it wouldn’t be the last.
After fifteen minutes or so of surgery we set out on the CRP field, five guys and three dogs. Lady immediately got birdy and went on point. This time it was a covey of Sharpies, they were pretty far out but I got lucky and dropped one.
We saw a lot of Sharpies in that field and Landon knocked one down too. Lady finally pinned a rooster down on the way back to the truck. He flew right into a head wind and I had a slow flying rooster and I got him.
We heard lots of stories from Brent about the mass numbers of birds he saw last year in that same field, but this year they were no where to be found. The birds in that part of the Montana were definitely down from last year. Most of the roosters were big, old, and had long tail feathers. Or they were so young they weren’t all the way feathered out yet.
Von blocked all day, and still hadn’t got a rooster. The only way we ever got a rooster that day was chasing the dogs. These birds were way to smart to be pushed and blocked. The either held or flew way out of range.
The second day was great. We got creative, hunted hard and got into birds. Von didn’t feel very well and he stayed at the hotel that day.
The third and final day Von was feeling well enough to get out. The day before we had scouted some areas and had some spots we thought would definitely produce some roosters for Von. Oh and they did. We saw as many birds this day as we had the other two days combined. Von got lots of shots but kept missing. The day was getting late and I was starting to stress if Von would get his rooster. Finally we had Von blocking and a rooster came flying overhead and he connected with his second shot and sent the rooster straight into a pond. Lady dove in and made a stylish retrieve. Von finally killed his rooster and we all felt our stress levels diminish. He smiled like a little boy with his first rooster. Hunting is definitely good for mans health. I saw it that day in Von’s eyes.
Lady is in her prime, seven years old, and everyone without a dog wants to hunt near her. She doesn’t bust birds and she never slows down. They all loved her on this trip. Her mother Mattie was on this trip with us too. She is ten and showing her age. It makes me sober to think Lady will one day slow down and show her age. Till then I have a lot more bird hunting outings to go on.
Montana was fantastic. We hunted hard, got Von his rooster, watched awesome dog work, saw gorgeous prairie sunsets, and watched great cloud shows the kind you only see in the big sky country of Montana. No wonder I love this stuff so much
Some great CRP.
Big sky sunset on the prairie.
We got into a few sharpies that didn't fly too soon.