South Dakota Memories

PheasantOkay, so it's a Wednesday wrap-up on Sunday, but I still wanted to let you know how things finished up the other day in South Dakota. In one word: excellent. The second morning found me standing butt-deep in ice-crusted water at dawn again, but it also offered a front rwo seat at another fine day of shooting.

Our guide Paul had guessed correctly on the first day, figuring that the sheet water in the fields where ducks had been going to feed earlier in the week would ice up in the 20-degree temps driving them back to the still-open potholes. He was right. The groups that hunted deeper water that first day scored big, while field sitting hunters didn't fare as well. Needless to say, all of the guides had their hunters on potholes the second day and it paid off for every group who enjoyed steady shooting.

The ducks didn't seem to buzz us as fast and furious as they did the previous day, but a band of hunters posted on the island Mossy Oak's Bill Sugg and I discovered the day before, gave us the chance to keep the birds moving throughout the morning. The second group of hunters soon limited out and after awhile, a mere six ducks from finishing out ourselves, we slid onto the high-spot and promptly closed out the day. Skies were blue, the wind was more than steady and the water had just enough chop to keep the decoys moving with realism. Even as the morning hours wore on, ducks took wing in groups of threes, fours and even more.

I confirmed that I'm a spotty shot at best on long, fast crossing shots--the teal gave me fits--but put a bird at any other angle and I held my own with the day's fellow hunters Butch English with Mossy Oak, Bow Crosby with Polaris, and John Arkwright, an ATV-industry writer from Canada, who knew his way around a shotgun as well as he did a four-wheeler.

The afternoon was spent busting pheasants from a field sliced up in alternating rows of corn and weeds behind a sharp working pair of German draathaars--similar to a wire hair, but get this, to earn their registration, one of the things they have to do is run down and kill a raccoon!! Interesting test. The ringnecks, a mix of released birds with no-doubt wild wanderers in the mix, offered some sporty shooting. My butt was kicked by the end of the day, but I could have easily gotten up the next morning and did it again had we not had to catch flights back home.

Next I'm off to Virginia for a few days of turkey hunting with Primos Hunting Calls Tommy Barham and another good friend Billy Whitman. I also plan to make my way up a deer stand a few afternoons and try to hit the whitetails as they charge into the heart of the rut. It will be my first real chance to do some quality hunting short of my few days in Wisconsin last month. Ordinarily by this time, I would have logged some more hours in a treestand, but with work, travel and other issues at home, I haven't had the chance this year. It's taking a noticeable toll on my mood, which would be utterly foul had it not been for the chance to experience the natural beauty of South Dakota.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the bluffs that divide the plains near Prairie Sky Guest and Game Ranch where we were hunting are ripe with turkeys and with any luck, I'll be heading back out there in the future to experience that side of the lodge's offerings. I can't wait.

(Photo courtesy of S.D. Dept. of Tourism)