As an archery deer fanatic it was with mixed emotions I accepted an invite from my friend Bruce Behm to his pheasant Mecca about half way between Chamberlain and Miller. Mixed emotions because this highly-coveted invite coincided with the last week of archery season before the opening of the MN gun season. But, I missed my trip to Bruce's last year and vowed not to make the same mistake two years in a row!
With my friend Carter Ohrt (also my office landlord!) We took to the highway and headed towards SD. The buzz about this pheasant season has been about how the tough winter and the wet spring have seriously hurt pheasant populations. Anecdotally, we can confirm that it appears numbers were down. Normally we start seeing birds on I90 before we hit Kimball. We didn't see a single bird on the road until we hunted a ditch about 2 miles north of Kimball and Carter popped the first rooster of the season.
We made our way north to Bruce's place and hunted a few side roads (grass lines next to corn fields). We didn't have a dog and weren't expecting much but thankfully we flushed two roosters and and Carter was kind enough to let me shoot both!
We hadn't planned on hunting that Thursday but leaving early gave us plenty of daylight to work with and we took advantage. 2 guys, no dogs and 3 birds...not a bad bonus day of hunting and foreshadowing of greater things to come!
I never travel lightly and brought all my coyote-hunting gear with this trip and had high hopes of whacking a bunch of coyotes. On our first morning Carter and I slipped out of house before sunrise and set up on a picturesque draw in the south pasture of Bruce's property. I turned on my FOXPRO and to both of our surprise we had a coyote respond to the call almost immediately. Bad news was he was hung up one or two draws away. He was probably 200-300 yards but we couldn't see him or creep up on him. His barks told us that something was jacked with our set up so we let him be. We had other business to attend to!
As 10:00 AM rolled around our group of 12 gathered around Bruce for a little "strategerie". Bruce drew a map of "The Stockyard" in the driveway and we were all given our assignments. Our assault on the stockyard resulted in 2 or 3 roosters in the bag. The biggest part of the field is sorghum which Bruce says usually heats up after the corn is long gone but we thought it was worth the effort.
We worked pretty hard the rest of the morning into the middle of the afternoon scratching out two or three birds at each stop. On several occasions we pushed out more deer than roosters which for me is part of the allure of a SD pheasant hunt. We hunted a marsh to the north of Bruce's place and from my position I could see a coyote leave the field about 1000 yards away. I wished I was there to take a whack at him but as luck would have it I would have my chance. About 500 yards ahead I was walking on the outside edge of the field and a coyote burst out about 40 yards in front of me. I smacked him pretty good with my first shot and unloaded three more shots for good measure and watched him run about 300 yards before he did a pirouette and fell over! All I can say is on this trip I became a big fan of Blackcloud-Prairie Storm #5!
We moved to a field that Bruce must have been saving for us....We probably needed 20 birds for our limit and we found them all here. This was the type of shooting people talk about when they talk SD pheasant hunting. My feet were happy that the day was over!
Day two brought more challenges but still managed to find some birds. A family obligation had us leave at lunchtime but not before I found my first shed antler while posting in a grass field! It's pretty sweet with a drop tine. Bruce is deer hunting there this weekend and I hope he shoots this buck!
Another SD pheasant trip is in the memory bank. And even with numbers down this year didn't disappoint. As I think back to the weekend its clear its not always about whacking pheasants, the camaraderie, great food/wine/conversation, coyote & deer encounters, and 12 hours in the car getting reacquainted with an old friend are really what makes this trip a must every year....even during the MN rut!
If you want to see Bruce's place, it was featured in an episode of Minnesota Bound...you can watch it here.