Usually, too, it’s really cold. The weather cooperated.

The air temperature was 6 degrees and the wind was blowing at 30 mph when I set out with half-dozen other hunters Dec. 8 in Platte, S.D. Gas station attendants and waitresses in town thought we were crazy. Regardless, we saw birds and shot a bunch over two days, then we moved to Huron.

Snow fell Friday night, which causes pheasants to hunker down, to bury themselves in cattails. In our first slough, four of us pushed from west to east, while five guys blocked the far end. We saw nothing for a quarter mile. Then, in the last bit of the slough, roosters started to pop, one after the other. Eleven got up, and eleven were dropped. The same scenario played out in the next field. We’d reached our limit by 2 p.m.: nine guys, 27 pheasants. It’s a day I’ll never forget.

My Labrador retriever, Albert, was the only one of his breed in the group, so he was called into service many times to find lost birds. Albert found every one, and did me proud.

As planned, I preached Sunday morning to the small but faithful congregation of Grace Episcopal Church in Huron, and hunted a bit more with my friend Jorge Vicuna. Later, I started the drive home, leaving South Dakota in my rearview mirror until next fall.