Sometimes--We hunters win!!!

KBell

New member
You are looking at a wet, tired, but very content hunter after a little over 4 miles logged in the fields today.

Sophie and I began our journey on public today. We worked two hen points and noticed numerous tracks. Reaching the field edge provided our first indication of the residents--seven roosters and 5 hens watching us from the middle of their "moonscaped" bean field.

As Sophie and I retreat I realize the public grasses are going to continue this pattern. Time to switch it up--I remember that the creek banks are full on the north side but relatively free of snow on the south sides.

As we travel, I begin noticing roosters in the groves. Lots of them. We arrive at the northern side of the section and I see our 12 friends from earlier. They are now "roosting" in two pine trees. Quite a sight--I saw this often as a youngster--but now it is rare to see so many birds in a tree in broad daylight.

Several miles later we have a higher standing stalk picked corn field and I see several birds actively feeding in it. As we venture out to intercept them they flush wild and land in an adjacent field. We flush five roosters and four hens. Sophie and I worked the area they were in for "hopes" that we would have a holder or two. No such luck today.:p

Our first creek does not appear to be much from the road. White dominates the landscape but I notice some woody areas farther out in the field and a strip-maybe 200 yards of switch grass beyond that. Sophie and I hit the field. We have many tracks shortly after entering the field. I notice many are out to the bare spots in the beans. Feeding--it appears over several days--and back to the cover. Our first flush--wild--a hen glides 30 to 40 feet and glides back down into the cover. Our next two hens are points--staunch and in not much cover. I head a little south to go around some drifting snow and as we get back to cover our next point--a hen--staunch like the first two. I notice an uptick in Sophie's behavior. As I watch the hen she attempts to drop in the cover when not one, two, but five roosters rise and then drop back down with her just 25 yards or so ahead of us. As Sophie and I begin to close the distance I see we are close to the switch grass. I remind myself to take it slow--these chances don't come along much now--and to relax my breathing. Good shots--patience is the key now. As we enter the switch grass two hens jump wild and glide down the strip. I notice both re-enter the end of the strip. I am at full attention now and anticipating that rooster. Sophie is so full of scent and roosting spots that her breathing imitates that of an "overweight pug dog". I have witnessed this before and it supports my hypothesis that more birds may be in this strip.

Calmly we continue on. Our next point is solid and a hen. She is the first bird to head back to the west. I whirl at a wild flush and it is rooster one heading low out of the cover. He drops to a shot of prairie storm 5's. I do not hear him moving but head to the drop site. We have two roosters wild flush from the northern side of the creek. I notice a hen crossing a sand bar and heading up the northern bank. Smart little devils this time of year.:p Our next point is a hen. Up close and personal. She like the others glides farther up ahead. We reach the drop point and Sophie finds rooster one on his back and brings him to hand. Sophie goes on point immediately after leaving me to the right. On the edge and I decide to close in from the north directly back at her. I do not do this often but her intent is strong and she steadies as I approach. Rooster two and three take to wing as I close in. Shot one finds it mark and I see the lifeless tumble, floating to the left I pick up rooster three as he curls to head east with his partners. Shot two connects and he falls to just his tail feathers showing from the snow.

As Sophie and I retrieve these two I have more and more birds flushing from the switch grass. I marvel at the final numbers. 26 hens, 24 roosters(including the three) were calling that filter strip home.

Sophie and I drove the area for a time after and saw birds in many groves and fence lines in the area. I noticed three fields with birds out actively feeding in them.

All three birds had crops full of beans and very healthy fat deposits. With a gentle winter and drier spring, next season could be even better in the northwest!:)
 
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Miforester

Active member
Kbell, I really enjoy reading your reports, you recant great hunts. Sounds like Iowa numbers are starting to rebound, I hope it continues with a good nesting season. Thanks again for taking the time to share this hunt.
 

KBell

New member
Thank you!

Thanks Miforester,

I do love the bird and sharing the hunts with everyone!:) Birds this time of year are true trophies as none of them come easy.
 

Miforester

Active member
One of my best trips to Iowa was during the Christmas holidays, love hunting in the snow, well reasonable depth of snow that is. Hope your season finishes well with more trophies.
 

IA at heart

New member
It really sounds like it has been a great season for you Kbell. So glad to hear it!

I went out yesterday by myself with no dog. It was the first time I had been to this spot this season. There were bird tracks everywhere, fresh tracks. But, they were runners, big time runners. The positive is there were TONS of birds left this late in the season.

Late season birds are tough, especially without a dog. Love seeing your pics and hearing the stories of your and Sophies fun!
 

KBell

New member
Thank you!

Thank you Riverhunter55 and IA at heart,

I do love my times with Sophie in the field. We have completed our third year now and time for both of us to put a little fat back on. I have dropped an inch of waist and Sophie is down 4 lbs at this point. I am sure many of you experience this as well as the season closes.:)

I actually got a couple of later hunts in this year as we have a grandson on the way and didn't want to miss it!:) I am positive he will be a bird hunter. It's a good bet he will enjoy a game of golf as well.

As this season ends I am jubilant at the numbers of birds so many are reporting. With some predator hunts and a mild winter and drier spring we could see even better numbers next year. God how I yearn for the numbers we had in the early 60's!:p If we could only see those again.
 

PTM

Active member
Sounds like one heck of a day and some awesome dog work, Wasn't there a time when Iowa rivaled SD in bird numbers? Your living the upland dream.:thumbsup: Your spot on about the late season birds being trophies.
 

BleuBijou

New member
Thanks for sharing a great story of the events and how they unfolded or FOLDED!!! Awesome day! Great pic!!:thumbsup::cheers:
 

KBell

New member
Thank you!

Hello PTM and BleuBijou,

Iowa was the ultimate and pinnacle of pheasants and pheasant hunting for the 40's, 50's and the early part of the 60's. There was no finer pheasant hunting and pheasant numbers anywhere in the continental U.S.. South Dakota took over from the mid-60's on and has never really looked back.

Like so many other states we experienced a "uptick" in numbers but not on a wide scale or in big percentages. As my fellow statesmen on here know we still have counties and areas that are low or void of pheasants. Other counties have experienced vast losses of cover and suitable habitat to support any rebound in pheasant numbers.

We have our work ahead of us but I am confident that milder weather will buy us some more time to "get things right" again.:) It won't be easy but nothing worth having ever is.

I compare the situation to Iowa's water quality. We ruined it for years and now a bill and movement is in place to put sales tax monies into water quality improvements in Iowa. I would have never guessed this would happen in my lifetime. Hope exists for habitat and the birds as well!
 
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Miforester

Active member
Kbell,

Seems that SW Iowa has been the portion of Iowa what has struggled to rebound when looking at the statewide reports. Use to hunt south of 80 about an hour west of Des Moines and we always had a tough time getting birds, our first trip only netted two birds back in late 80's, no protective vest for our Britt did us in. After that we would manage 10 - 15 roosters and a few quail for 2 to three guys for 4 to 5 days. We hunted that are for 10 years made wonderful friendships and always had great dog work. I got married and returned in 2003 to fewer numbers and we hunt again in 2013 and only killed 4 birds. In your hunting circle have you hard if SW Iowa is showing a rebound, reports are not always reflective of actual numbers. I liked hunting this area for the mixed bag of quail and occasional Hun. Still have good friends out there and have thought about going back out, but with young dogs just would like as much bird contact as possible.
 
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