Plan B Please!


New member
My son had to leave me yesterday evening.

After breakfast Sophie and I do a quick review of our options. We can drive home:mad: We can hunt public :( We can find a recently picked cornfield and knock on a few doors.:)

I learned a couple of years ago that the drainage ditches are darn near impossible to hunt alone.

We choose option three as I am sure most of you can determine. How do we know its freshly picked corn? The color and condition of the field are great indicators. Doesn't hurt to ask also.

We locate our first target. It looks perfect. We have a draw and a thicket in a slough that appears freshly picked. We are at 8:20 in the a.m. We approach the likely owner--no one home. I shrug as I know we are driving away from some birds but permission is the key to a successful hunt. As we travel on I notice we are now north of Marathon. Dang if the truck doesn't know where the birds are too!:)

Our next target looks promising. I notice a snakeweed filled ditch and a quarter mile slough with two weedy fence lines in the section. We meet Don who is loading a trailer on the side of his machine shop. I don't even ask to hunt. We talk the Hawkeyes, weather, and the harvest. Health is our next topic as Don appears to be in my age range. Finally the question of "I suppose you are wanting to hunt" arises. I get the corn was a little late and that some relatives are planning a Thanksgiving hunt. I share my appreciation of family and am certain I will need a new target when Don shares that "I can't get too many" when considering me for the day. I assure Don that three would be the ultimate goal and get to hunting.

I check the wind and the time at the slough entrance. We are now at 9:15 a.m. and the wind is picking up to SW at 10mph. I notice it anyway. Our first trek is across the picked corn to the opposite end of the slough. Sophie looks at me two or three times to share "what the hell are we doing not using the wind?" and three times spins to lock on point in the cover to flush hens. When training early I purposely put the pup in wind disadvantage to see if they will adjust. Sophie passed this "test" long ago.

We finally make it to the opposite end of the slough. Sophie is into the wind now and "enveloped" with scent. Our first three flushes are hens. Two pointed and one wild. Quartering away and crossing me yields point number one. He is a cackler and climbing when the prairie storm 5's end his journey. This year's bird-early hatch. We continue on. Our next point is a hen. As she flies she causes a rooster--he appears to be last year's hatch-to take flight with her. As they travel down the slough Sophie is already back to work. The next point is at first caused when Sophie is heading back to me. A quick 180 and we are on a staunch point. I close in for the flush. Rooster two is straight away and quickly in the bag. Our next point is a double hen flush. Sophie refuses to leave the area. More birds I though to myself. I collect Sophie and go back thirty yards to "reenter" the area. Rooster three takes to the air as Sophie pins him on the right edge. He takes a left to right flight path and I have "all day" to swing and pull the trigger. He piles up nicely in the cut corn and our second day at Pocahontas is done. A twin to bird number one as he is an early hatch this year's bird. I recollect that we have covered about 400 yards.

I do love hunting freshly picked corn fields!


Frank C

Great story & photo. Thanks! Just returned to Michigan from north-central area of Iowa. Saw alot more birds this year than in previous years.


Ranger Rick

Did you see the forum on the "pheasant hunting forum" side? Guys with pointing dogs talking about not getting roosters over points because roosters won't hold? You seem to have the same kind of success I have. Some run like crazy. Some circle around you. Your instinct telling you to circle back around for that last bird is good stuff. But my point is that you shot your limit, all on pointed birds. I don't mean to be rude, or condescending, but I don't understand where those guys are coming from.
The good thing about Iowa is you can hunt ditches. I see roosters holding the whole season. Pinches work great for many that dont.


New member
Yes it is true I have shot most of the birds over points this season.

It boils down to dog training and how pressured the cover is that you are hunting. I do hunt public where birds tend to run more but will always sit at some point and time.

The dog training comes into play as well. A pointer that holds a rigid point will usually not flush the bird. I have a command to release the dog when I am ready. Most often my movements do not cause the flush. What I am attempting to share is that the dog's training does factor in to how many points one gets.


New member
No to ditches

Hello MN hunter,

I am getting reports that you gentleman to the North are having a good season. Believe it or not I rarely hunt ditches here in Iowa. The investment in the dog outweighs the potential benefit of relying on others to give the dog a break.

Far too often for me others speed by at a high rate of speed on gravel and secondary roads. All one needs is the flush and pursuit or the downed bird with pursuit and the oncoming automobile--well you get the picture.

I would be beside myself if Sophie was struck by an automobile and my actions had something to do with it.:(
With a plethora of remote gravel roads available traffic has never been an issue. We don't hunt paved roads although it is at times tempting since they often have bigger ditches. Our bigger concern and one we avoid is ditches with barbed wire. You also have to be more aware of snares. We look at ditches as long thin fields and perfect for one man and his dog. Learning how to read them is an art. Most have nothing so we are always trying to figure it out and not waste to much time hunting dead ditches.
Last edited:

Ranger Rick

The ditches in Iowa are much different than in SD. I've hunted a lot of roads in SD, but they were two tracks in remote areas, not graded gravel. Where I hunt in IA there seems to be a pretty fair amount of traffic and there's no way I would hunt the road ditches. Besides, we're fortunate to have plenty of good ground to hunt.

KBell - You've mentioned training. I worked my pups to be staunch on point in the training field, then moved on to hunting. Early on, I did not shoot birds they bumped or flushed, only birds they held tight on. That's hard for some guys to do. Like one of my brothers. He has to shoot everything that flushes. I will not take him hunting when I've got a young dog.

Major, the setter in my avatar, was 1-1/2 years old when I took him to SD. [I think he was 1 year in that picture, not fully grown and filled out.] Before the trip he had been progressively better on holding staunch on point. I had been shooting grouse and woodcock over him.

Anyhow, we were working a shelter belt of woods, with grasses underneath, around the outskirts of the out buildings on a farm. Good cover that produced in past years. Hunting into the wind, he goes on point. As I walk in I can see him looking around. He's lost body scent. He releases and starts working the wind side to side, moving up another 20-30 yards before reestablishing point again.

I see a wheel rut in the thigh high grass and know instinctively there's a friggin rooster running right down it. I figure it will run the next 1/4 mile and hopefully hold at the end where it meets cut corn field.

Major relocates 3-4 times before breaking way off to the side, making a big circle 50-60 yards out from me. Coming back he slams and holds tight facing me. I hustle in and flush a big rooster, cackling as he gets up. Boom and down he comes. That young, inexperienced pup was smart enough to circle out and cut off that running bird! That's the kind of intelligence you need in a bird dog and I was beaming. My hunting partner, a poorly trained flushing lab guy, didn't have a clue as to what just transpired.

I mentioned birds running to the end of cover before holding. A few years earlier at the same woods, 4 of us hunting. I hit the end where it met a cut field of alfalfa. The other guys were still in the cover. I heeled Molly to me ans slowly walked, keeping even with them as they hunted out to the end.

Halfway across that open field, 100 yards from where I started and maybe 30 yards from getting to the road, Molly breaks heel, circles out to the side like 15' and goes on point. I'm wondering WTF?! The grass is maybe 6" tall. WTF is she pointing. As I walk up I see a rooster 10' in front of her, laid out like a snake underneath the grass.

I'm laughing. My buddies are out of this one. I walk in and had to kick the rooster to get it to flush and I dropped that sucker clean. My buddies are wondering what I'm doing shooting out in the middle of a clean field. I bet that rooster ran out there while we were all still in the woods and for some reason decided to do the snake thing. Never saw anything like that in my life. Just goes to show you birds will do weird, unexpected things.