Monday, November 23, 2015

Hunting in Southwest Iowa 

Over a long weekend we drove down to Pottawatomie County in southwestern Iowa to visit family and do a little pheasant hunting.  We haven't hunted down there for at least ten years, and Fergus and Jenkins had never even smelled a pheasant before.  Above is the first rooster Jenkins pointed, and Susan's sister, Cindy Freemyer, dropped it as it flushed out of the ditch.  Cindy, by the way, did an excellent job guiding us around the Iowa farms and countryside.

Jenkins figured out the prairie birds long before Fergus.  In fact, he pointed the first covey of quail we came across during the first day of hunting.  I didn't even fire when I flushed them because I didn't know or remember what they were -- that's how long it's been since I've hunted out of the state.  You can take a boy out of the woods .....  Fergus, with seven seasons of grouse and woodcock hunting, didn't know what to do out in all that open country.

The birds were pretty sparse, although it was good to see coveys of quail coming back, until the last day of our trip.  A couple of inches of snow and some raw winter weather had the birds holed up in the thick grass and cattails. Fergus nailed three hens and a rooster in a patch of tall grass, and we fired, missing the rooster.  But from then on, he nailed the birds.  Instead of running around like we were out playing, he worked the cover.  It had finally clicked, and we had a wonderful day of hunting, the birds popping up out of the brilliant white snow. As Cindy predicted before we set out that day, "This is the perfect day for a hunt." She was dead right.                                                                     

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Puppy Training

My brother came up from Iowa over the weekend for some hunting and brought along his six-month-old setter, Lucy.  She drug the checkcord through the woods and followed Fergus around yesterday, looking for some lagging woodcock, but all we found were grouse. Fergus didn't mind because he prefers the bigger birds.  Lucy didn't seem to mind either. 

Fergus did point one woodcock this morning, maybe his last of the season with the gun deer season coming up and shutting down the upland hunting for a while. By then, I figure most, if not all, of the woodcock will be in the warmer south lands, and the season has been closed for almost two weeks now.  The warmer weather makes it feel more like October, not mid-November.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hunting Before Work

We snuck in a short hunt this morning before work and the imminent rain, wind and snow.   Photos by Susan Parman.

Jenkins pointing a grouse.  He relocated a step to his left and flushed the bird.  It was a ways away, and we never saw it.  Nevertheless, I was not happy. I set him up and told him to be careful.

Jenkins tearing after me, trying to get out in front.  He is much more athletic than Fergus in the woods, but works closer.

This point came five minutes after Jenkins busted the grouse in the first picture.  I made a big circle around him.  Nothing.  As I worked back toward him, a woodcock twittered up and flew to the east. We wished the woodcock well on its journey to Arkansas or Louisiana.  We never did find that grouse. 

Calm before the storm -- it's thundering and lightning as I write this. Doesn't looks like such a good day for hunting tomorrow or Friday.  Winds in excess of 40 mph, rain, some snow.  Fergus and Jenkins wouldn't mind the conditions.  Any day is a good day to hunt to them.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Just Grouse

We're hunting just grouse from here on out since woodcock season ended in Wisconsin a week ago. There are still a few straggling woodcock around, and a couple have fooled me when the dogs have pointed them. I see paint on the ground or figure from the dog's posture that it's a woodcock, and then a grouse comes blowing out of the cover.  It's like expecting a curveball and getting the fastball.  This picture is Fergus pointing a grouse, his tail slightly higher than when he points woodcock.  Or at least it seems so to me.   

This time of year right before gun deer season is often my favorite time to hunt grouse if the weather holds.  The trees are stripped bare, the woods opened up.  Last year at this time, we had a 10" blanket of snow on the ground, which effectively ended the season.  This fall has been significantly warmer, and looking at the long range forecast, it appears this fine weather will continue.  These days in November are gifts.