Last night while watching the idiot box, I came across the 2007 Rob Reiner film, The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. I had seen previews for the movie, but it never looked that good to me. Turns out, I kind of enjoyed the flick. I'd give it a 3-star rating out of 5. Anyway, it got me thinking about my own bucket list. And, since this is an outdoors blog, here before you is my Bird Hunting Bucket List . . . in other words, the bird hunting adventures I hope to experience before I "kick the bucket."
1. Hell's Canyon, Idaho: During one day's walk, a bird hunter and pup can start the day in lower elevations flushing pheasants, quail, sharpies and Huns; climb into the forest line boosting ruffed grouse and mountain quail; before reaching the rocky hillside in search of chukars. Now that is what I call a day's hike for the ol' hunting journal!
2. Oregon's Willamette Valley: Owen Denny, a U.S. Ambassador to China, brought Chinese ring-necked pheasants to Oregon's Willamette Valley in 1881. I've always dreamed of spending a week in the Willamette Valley during the autumn chasing roosters by day and visiting Oregon's Pinot Noir vineyards by night. The problem is there aren't that many pheasants left in the Willamette Valley, which could lead to some heavy drinking.
3. Willow Ptarmigans in Alaska: Imagine if you will, your bird dog vacuuming scent across the Alaskan tundra as a herd of caribou make their way on the horizon to your right. Your pup goes on point, you accelerate toward her as eight white and brown birds with red circled eyes flush toward the ocean. Boom! Boom! Your double gun reports back as two birds return to the lichen-covered rugged landscape. Tonight, surf and turf for dinner: Alaskan king crab, roast ptarmigan, and a sudsy beverage to wash it down.
4. Hawaiian Heaven: Believe it or not, there are pheasants in the pineapple orchards and at the grassy foothills of Hawaiian volcanoes. There are also species of quail, francolins, sand grouse, and doves to chase as the salty surf splashes around you. So grab your board shorts, leis, bird dog, and 12 gauge, and let's go to a bird hunting luau.
5. Repeating the Best So Far: I understand the concept of The Bucket List is to do something once before you die. But this is my Bucket List and my rules apply. Therefore, here are the top things I've already done, but would like to do all over again.
a. Enjoying the U.P. ruffed grouse opener with my dad: see blog post for September 14th.
b. Shooting greenheads under a duck tornado at sunrise on the North Dakota prairie.
c. Shooting dive-bombing mallards in the flooded timber of Stuttgart, Arkansas.
d. Chasing sharpies, Huns, and pheasants in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.
e. Sandhill crane hunting in North Dakota. "Rib-eye of the sky," as they are known for their succulent meat, is a challenging quarry that does every gymnastic move imaginable on its way to the ground.
f. Earn my Minnesota pheasant limit on a Pheasants Forever habitat project that's now a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) open to public hunting. I'm looking forward to checking this one off the list in a dozen days.
p.s. Having my pup, Trammell, along on all of these adventures would be an absolute must. It just ain't the same chasing birds, even in Hawaii, unless your best pooch is sniffing the ground in front of you.