Nice tales! I like the ingenuity of the limb. I have often thought as I reined in my Lab hot on trail near blackberries that it would be great if I could train a Chihuahua or something similarly small to chase after the birds hiding in there. One of my dogs from way back almost lost an eye chasing after a wounded rooster into a blackberry patch, so I have decided that is their safe place forever more.This site continually causes me to re log in before it will allow me to post a reply. As a result my longish reply was lost and I have to recreate it A true PITA!
This year will be the 55th year I've hunted at Gray Lodge so, like Farmers insurance, I know a thing or two because I've seen a thing or two with the limb and the cat being examples.
Many years ago, mid pheasant season, and while I was hanging around the check station waiting for my number to be called, I noticed a truck with a big siamese cat in it walking back and forth on the dash. The owner had just checked out with two pheasants (the limit back then) and as he came up to me I commented about seeing lots of dogs in the parking lot but that was the first cat. He told me in a hushed voice that he got the birds using the cat. Gray Lodge had in the past a lot of black berry patches that dogs couldn't get into but pheasants used as sanctuaries. They'd feed a little before shoot time and then go into the berries for the whole day.
The guy told me he'd have to be careful where he used the cat because he didn't want it shot by another hunter but later in the season and mid day there weren't many guys out hunting. He'd go to a berry patch he thought was big enough to hold birds and near good feeding areas and he'd take the cat out of the back of his vest and put it next to the berries. Cats have a good sense of smell and are naturally curious so the cat would go into the berries and the guy would go to the other side and wait. It worked well enough he said to shoot as many pheasants as he wanted given he didn't care all that much about shooting pheasants he said. I gave it a 50% rating of being BS and filed it away.
Decades later, a friend and I were coming back from hunting near the N. boundary on the East side and were headed for the parking lot. It was mid day on a blue bird day with no shooting from the duck hunters or pheasant hunters on the area. Suddenly we heard a fusillade of shots between us and the parking lot and assumed it was some pheasant hunters who had jumped a bird that had stayed too long away from cover. We walked along and it happened again and this time we could see a group of 5 guys walking toward us on the dirt road. Four of them had guns and the other had a 10' limb over his shoulder. They walked along and when they came to a patch of berries the guy with the limb started beating on it and poking the limb into the patch. Suddenly a rooster flushed out of the away side of the patch and the guys with guns emptied their guns at it. It flew away unharmed.
When we crossed paths I could see it was 4 kids with the oldest in high school and their grandfather with the limb. He was fit to be tied because he said he'd been flushing pheasants for them all morning and was tired and they'd only killed one and were about to run out of shells. We laughed and kept on going to the parking lot.
There is another way to hunt those patches that doesn't require a dog. You can't really tell how many pheasants there are in an area that has black berries.
So enzinn, you wouldn't happen to be a member of the Waterfowl Chasers club would you?
Yes, I chose to live there because of the town and my experiences hunting in that area, among other reasons. I know what you mean about public versus private. The one place north of there that has always produced for me has been the Missouri Breaks. That is a little farther afield then the public land that surrounds Lewistown, but man that place is fun to hunt.This is the first year in 10 years I haven't hunted and fished in Montana. Lewistown is pheasant central if you make connections on private land. There's some big pieces of public stuff to but lots of pressure. Are you familiar with the area/state?
I have hunted there in the winter. It can, of course, get brutally cold. I sometimes felt guilty hunting the thick cover and cattails, busting out pheasants, because I know they use a lot of energy to fly and run in the cold. I do love chasing after grouse, huns and pheasants in the winter and once harsher conditions have set in, the fair weather hunters have disappeared and you pretty much have the plains to yourself.Look into fishing the ponds that exist near where you like to hunt. Very nice trout depending on the year and water conditions.
Ducks will either be all pin feathered brown eclipse birds early or 10 days of outrageous hunting during the migration. Still it has to be experienced.
I think I'll miss the night sky the most not going back this year and probably ever again. Being 20 miles from even a yard light and 75 miles from the closest very small town makes looking at the stars at night addictive for me. You seldom find places w/o light pollution in Calif. but the area you're going to has them in abundance.
It's the winters that will be tough. One of the funniest signs I saw back there said, "Remove masks before entering store." So polite but still struck me funny even though it was talking about snow mobile masks and wanting them off so the cameras can get a good look at you.
I hope you love it.
Yes, sorry for getting OT OP.Now that this thread has been thoroughly hi-jacked, my apologies to the OP.
That said, ..."meth and heroin addicts"... is maybe a bigger problem back there than here. Smaller number in total but bigger percentage of the population. Enzinn pm me if you feel like it and we'll discuss details off line
Did you hunt the openers on grasslands or just after the openers?I have hit my familiar grounds at Salt Slough WA and San Luis NWR since opening day. I have to give the dog a rest today through Tuesday because her nose and eyes are pretty torn up after hunting four of seven days.
The cover and feed are about as good as I have seen at both Salt Slough and San Luis. I think there might be more birds around than the last couple of drought years, but it hasn't resulted in more flushes, at least not yet. Even after the rain last Thursday, the ground and cover are so dusty that my dog goes into a sneezing fit when she picks up a hot trail and follows it. Every time we get into the heavy bull rush or cover, the dog goes completely ape running around and around, snuffling and sneezing and going full tilt. I suspect that we are passing by scent trails that are not discernible in the heat and dust, so hopefully we will get a little more rain before the season ends to improve scenting conditions.
I haven't gone up north yet, but will give it whack in the weeks to come since my rice blind ponds are finally flooded and the trailer is set up in Colusa. I'll hit up the Northern Sacramento Valley refuges (I had better luck up there last year, at least compared to hunting in the San Joaquin Valley) and do at least one trip to LK before the season ends.
I do admit that I might be dead wrong on there actually being more birds this year in the Grasslands refuges. I don't have direct proof of it yet. I suppose I might be overly optimistic, hoping for a repeat of my 1998-1999 hunting season that came on the heels of the rainfall we had in the prior winter (a near record El Nino winter). My opening weekend this past weekend certainly was less productive than the 1998 season opener.
Tony,Do you have a dog? Without one you are missing 3/4 of the fun.