“Conservation officers said they talked to a lot of people aware and concerned about the pheasant situation,’’ Hull said.
Officers reported that on Saturday, hunters in the southeast averaged .25 to .50 birds per hunter. Those in the central region averaged 1 to 1.5 birds per hunter. And hunters in the northeast averaged .50 to 1 bird per hunter.
Just 30 percent of the state’s corn crop had been harvested, which undoubtedly hurt hunter success. And high winds Sunday didn’t help. Indicative of the poor spring nesting season, South Dakota officials had said some birds renested late, a prediction hunters confirmed.
“Hunters reported seeing lots of small birds, some as small as doves,’’ Hull said. We, too, occasionally flushed birds so small they couldn’t be identified as hens or roosters.
Skunked: A first
At sunset Monday, we gathered at our trucks in the dark, and I surprised my hunting partners when I stepped out of one of the vehicles clad in hunting gear from the waist up, and boxer shorts and hunting boots from the waist down, drawing guffaws.
It’s not uncommon for our dogs to encounter skunks during our hunts, but somehow, while walking the edge of cattails, I stepped too close to a hidden black-and-white critter.
“Skunk!’’ I hollered to my partner, and I directed my Lab away.
I thought we had avoided the critter, but the strong scent persisted, even as I flushed and bagged a bird, and I finally realized I had been sprayed — a first.
“I don’t want you in my truck,’’ McMullen said.
So off came the pants, an inauspicious end to the day’s hunt.
“You get to sleep outside tonight,’’ quipped Mike Porter of Minneapolis.