Overdue pheasant hunt ends with success
When a group of hunters gather it doesn’t take very long for a friendship to form. Our recent pheasant hunting trip to north-central Illinois was an example.
As we sat down with all the hunters for our first meal together Jim Naylor announced that he had tried for almost ten years to get the “Osseo Jinx” (Tom Twesme) and this writer to join his group for a few days of pheasant hunting. This year was the right time and Tom and I had driven to Illinois to join him. The three of us have been friends since our college days.
The farm where we gathered is a large one stretching in excess of 1,000 acres and is located in the grain belt. Jim is a sharecropper with a man by the name of Jay. Jay is the third member of his family to work this farm that was owned by Jim’s wife’s family. Our group consisted of twelve hunters, Jim’s grandson, Peter, and five dogs.
The cabin for the 13 hunters is unique with one end of the interior of a large metal building closed off from the remainder of the building. That section has been designed and furnished to be the cabin. The cabin provides everything for a pleasant hunting experience for a group of hunters. Each of the dogs was kennel box trained and upon return to camp they immediately curled up in their boxes.
It did not take long for us to realize how important the dogs were. The cover on the farm is extremely thick, consisting of corn stubble, soybeans, clover, and one lone tree. A hunter had to nearly step on a bird to flush it.
To increase the habitat and make it more attractive to pheasants Jim has enrolled 80 acres of the farm in the Federal program called CRP (Conservation Reserve Program).
I am not a seasoned pheasant hunter so I was listening to everything that was being said. Peter is eleven years old thus he could not carry a loaded gun. When we returned to the cabin Peter told us that had we allowed him to carry a loaded gun he was sure he would have killed the two birds that we had missed.
The method used by this group of hunters is similar to a northern Wisconsin group of deer hunters. The hunters would spread out in a line allowing the dogs to search for pheasants in front of us. In order to get the birds to fly several hunters, called blockers, cut off the escape routes. The first few birds escaped our guns. We were all keyed up and rushed those first few shots.
After a few “pushes” Jim called lunch time. We had begun hunting a bit before 7 a.m. and were all hungry by noon. The rest of the day consisted of watching the dogs and searching for birds that were wounded. The dogs worked hard to flush pheasants and were really tested while searching for cripples.
Tom and I hunted for two and a half days. By the end of that time we had tired bird dogs and most of the hunters were ready to call it a great hunt. Each time that we went back out in the fields to hunt it seemed that the wind had increased in velocity.
The bag consisted of 13 rooster pheasants and several that were missed. North central Illinois is a long drive from Rhinelander but we will most likely do it again next year. The hunt increased my interest in having a bird dog again but that will not happen.
Every day we are hearing about successful archery hunters. Apparently the rut is starting. Not all the deer enter the rut at the same time but some are now starting the process.
A pamphlet titled “Wisconsin Deer Hunting Rule Changes for 2014” is available at license outlets. I urge you to read through that pamphlet. A few minutes spent reading about the rule changes may prevent an embarrassing situation. Remember that the northern one-third of the state is open for antlered deer only!