Long-winded thoughts (for what they're worth)

A5 Sweet 16

Active member
Ace & I had about a 75 minute drive home last night after hunting in some weather that was crappy for picnics at the beach, but pretty good for pheasant hunting. I did some thinking. One thing I realized is that I need a voice-controlled, heads-up display, word-processing thing in my truck. Like Tony Stark’s JARVIS. This novel would have been written, edited, & posted by the time I got home.

Many of you know this, but I’ll set the stage for those that don’t. I grew up in SD & now live in Sioux Falls. I’ve been hunting pheasants my entire life & this is my 39th season carrying a shotgun. For the past 30 years or more, I’ve probably hunted, on average, about 25 times a season. With exception of maybe 1 hunt every 2-3 years, I hunt exclusively public land, CREP & Walk-Ins, almost always within 45-80 minutes of Sioux Falls (so kind of the northeast corner of the southeastern part state – not terribly pheasanty). Until quite late in the season, I let the other guys have first crack at them, & consequently, I rarely have competition. Yesterday I left the house at noon, drove 75 minutes (which is further than usual), hunted, & was back home at 6:30. Most hunts are by myself & furry friend, but some are with 1 or both of my daughters, or maybe one other human friend. A long day is over 3 hours of actual walking/hunting.

I’ve been out 10 times so far this season & have shot 14 roosters. None lost. Haven’t missed my annual gimme or 2….yet. Typically, this time of year, I’d be in the 25 plus vicinity after 10 trips. It’s definitely not what I’m used to, but I’ve got plenty of perfectly logical reasons for what’s been going on; excuses, if you will.

Not enough corn & beans. That’s a new one this season. Typically, my spots have corn/beans adjacent or a short hop away. Where it was REALLY wet, you can stand at a spot, look around, & not see ANY corn or beans ANYWHERE. I’ve had a tough time finding pheasants in these spots. Whether they’ve moved permanently, are really scattered, had a terrible hatch, or whatever…I really don’t know. But I’ve given up on these spots & moved 20-30 miles where there’s more corn/beans. I know how to hunt pheasants where corn & beans live.

Where corn was planted…..too much standing corn. All the beans seem to have been picked where I hunt, but corn is maybe 50% at most. Particularly when weather is decent, as we all know, birds will hang out in there until after sunset, especially if they roost on public land where they’ve been well educated. That said, yesterday I confirmed the exception to this rule. I cut through the middle of an area (widely avoiding the edge next to picked beans going downwind) to get to the edge next to standing corn. Walked the edge by the corn a couple times. Nothing but a couple hens. Sat in the cold & snow & watched for 25 minutes. Nothing. Nada. Walked the edge by the picked beans back toward the truck, into the wind. Limit, plus saw several others. Pheasants will sometimes avoid corn & the cover it provides in lieu of easy beans scattered on the ground.

Weather has NOT been very good for pheasant hunting in my area on the weekends. We’ve had real warm weather. Rain. Gale force wind. Even a couple days with absolutely NO wind. There have only been a couple weekend days that it’s just kind of been OK with a medium to medium-strong wind.

Too much water. Holy cow. There were definitely some areas that the water impacted nesting in a hugely negative way. And it’s cut me off from several of my favorite spots. As of yesterday, the ice would support a pheasant (& did support pheasants), but not a springer spaniel, even a skinny, little one with big feet.

My dog’s only 6-1/2 months old. Yes, there’s a learning curve, but man is it steep right now. I’m sure I could’ve seen a few more birds by now w/ an experienced dog. But Ace is really doing well. Sure there are plenty of false alarms due to deer poop, nests, & last year’s mouse fart residue, but he’s figuring it out & I really couldn’t be more pleased.

So the crux of it is that there are definitely areas of fewer birds than usual. Or at least I can’t seem to find them. So you move on to greener pastures, which in my case, has meant north. Although I’ve seen & shot fewer birds than usual, I really do think I’ve found some spots where the numbers are about average. Eventually, all that water will harden, the corn will be picked, significant snow will fall, & I’ll get to some of those “way back there” spots loaded with roosters. At a time when my birds/trip average usually starts to slide slowly downward, I think I’ve reached a point where it’ll actually begin climbing slowly upward.

Never hurts to be optimistic.

Pictures from the weekend.

Saturday’s sunset. It was absolutely still. My daughter Leah was with me, & she noticed that we could hear all these things pretty much simultaneously: cows, snow geese, honkers, mallards, a farm dog, a combine, & even a couple roosters. I’m so glad my girls are experiencing & appreciating this stuff.

Yesterday’s birds. Ace & I were in no mood for pictures when we got back to the truck, opting instead for plenty of heat. So pictures waited until we got home. Notice the kennel. Ace has never ridden in it.
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jonnyB

Active member
Bret: Enjoyed your hunting story and can appreciate the frustration et al. Hopefully things will improve for you as the season progresses.

Last Friday I did shoot a bird next to a slough/lake and of course the bird landed on the ice. Fortunately the dog didn't see it land or he would have been attempting a retrieve via the ice. We had to let it go - no boat or other means of picking up the bird. Never had that happen before...

Good luck to you the rest of the season. Oh, great sunset, best time of the day in SD!

Jon - with a slightly used A5 20
 

ZORP

New member
Thanks for sharing. I am also in Sioux Falls and try to hunt relatively close to home. It has been interesting trying to find dry and accessible land. Great looking dog!
 

marn

Member
It’s always interesting to see what areas have birds and despite past success what areas don’t have birds at the time of your hunt. There are so many variables, wind, weather, crop harvest, flooding but I am interested in the non-planted areas to see if those birds have left the area permanently or are making long trips to and from food sources.

3 days until my next trip to SD and looking forward to some time in Gods Country!
 

1pheas4

Super Moderator
I froze my every livin azz off today and tomorrow aint lookin any better!!

I'm having a difficult time feeling sorry for you Mike. How did you do your first day out there?
 
Enjoyed the write-up and pictures. Hoping I can get to SD soon but life & work have been relentlessly getting in the way this year. May end up targeting a late season hunt if the weather cooperates otherwise KS or NE may be in the cards....
 

A5 Sweet 16

Active member
Bret: Enjoyed your hunting story and can appreciate the frustration et al. Hopefully things will improve for you as the season progresses.

Last Friday I did shoot a bird next to a slough/lake and of course the bird landed on the ice. Fortunately the dog didn't see it land or he would have been attempting a retrieve via the ice. We had to let it go - no boat or other means of picking up the bird. Never had that happen before...

Good luck to you the rest of the season. Oh, great sunset, best time of the day in SD!

Jon - with a slightly used A5 20

Thanks Jon. I didn't have to pass on any over sloughs this past weekend, but it definitely was on my mind. In fact, Saturday I told my daughter, "If one gets up & flies over the slough, we don't shoot." "Why??" Then the old explanation of how dogs are lost every year that way & how it sometimes leads to the hunter being lost trying to save his dog. Her 12-yr-old mind hadn't gone there. But it definitely got the gears turning.

Also, I have YET to tinker w/ my shell cut-off screw. Maybe next year??

Have a great season!
 

A5 Sweet 16

Active member
It’s always interesting to see what areas have birds and despite past success what areas don’t have birds at the time of your hunt. There are so many variables, wind, weather, crop harvest, flooding but I am interested in the non-planted areas to see if those birds have left the area permanently or are making long trips to and from food sources.

3 days until my next trip to SD and looking forward to some time in Gods Country!

Mike, have a great trip! If you find out what happened to those birds in the non-planted areas, let me know. Maybe it's just me being hopeful, but my theory of travelling long distances is looking less & less correct. I'm wondering if it wasn't actually a case of: make 1st nest; water rises & washes it out; make 2nd nest; water rises & washes it out; and so on. ???
 

A5 Sweet 16

Active member
Enjoyed the write-up and pictures. Hoping I can get to SD soon but life & work have been relentlessly getting in the way this year. May end up targeting a late season hunt if the weather cooperates otherwise KS or NE may be in the cards....

Thanks. Hope your able to line up a great trip. Now, about your signature..... Think about all those guys & their fancy pointers, hunting private land, full of birds that have never been hunted. We musn't show prejudice. But I can't say I disagree. ;)
 

jonnyB

Active member
Bret...bird down on the ice. I wasn't aware we were so close to open water; cattails very high and thick.

Regards the tinkering on an A5...the old 12ga, A5 had an issue with the carrier not returning to the original position. I decided I could fix this so I removed the four screws on the left side of the gun and the stock bolt and pulled the trigger group out.

On this gun the carrier spring is along side the receiver wall. Managed to remove the spring and re-bend and now the gun operates as it should. First time I have ever tried removing this level of parts on the gun. It was easier that I thought.

How about you? Do you take down the gun this far? There are some good videos that clearly shows how these parts are assembled. I would be hesitant to remove any more parts, however!
 
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