By Carl H. Altenbernd
The 1995 Pheasant Season in North Dakota was
just an average year. In the areas we hunt, above average snowfall
and heavy summer rains hammered the Central Dakota’s
keeping the Pheasant numbers in check.
Our last weekend hunt was cold and windy.
North Dakota Season runs into the first week of January. I would
guess there was six inches of new powder snow on the
ground and strong NW winds pushed five below temperatures to well below thirty
degrees. This did not stop us from busting the cattails looking for old Rooty.
Steve Syrdal and myself had hunted this spot
in prior years. It is a large complex of cattails, willow thickets,
creek bottoms all boarded by a harvested corn field.
Our first walk through the North East corner of this complex produced no birds
but tracks were every where, so it was just a function of figuring out the
birds daily patterns. During this hunt Steve was hunting behind
his Black Lab- Matty
and I were shooting over three adult Black Labs- Doe, Dar, Bee and three seven
month old Black Lab puppies named Duck, Decoy and Teal.
It is a incredible experience to hunt over
three dogs at one time and throw in three hard driving puppies making
the hunt all the more exciting. The commotion
of six dogs in the field at one time may sound like a Chinese fire drill, but,
with the proper training they handle just fine. In fact, we call our hunting
approach in the field “stealth” hunting. In other words “no” hollering “no” whistles.
A quiet approach in the field is a key to our late season success.
I got side tracked, lets get back to our Pheasant
tracks. A quick lunch gave us new energy to walk the North West
section of this complex. As we entered the
area Pheasant tracks were everywhere, but what surprised us most was the beautiful
Pheasant tail tracks outlined in the snow. In my twenty-nine years of Pheasant
hunting I had never seen this before. As illustrated, the rooster in landing,
left a perfect imprint of his tail in the snow with his feet imprinted at the
base. We saw this pattern three different times. The snow conditions must have
been perfect for this to happen. Our hunt continued that day, I shot two birds.
I also shot and released two more. Steve never got a shot but we both agreed
that the Pheasant tail tracks will always be a nice memory during the Pheasant
Season of 1995.
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