Posts Tagged ‘opening day’

You Know it’s Opening Day When…

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Opening day is right over the horizon for this pair of pheasant hunters.

The moment I received my first plastic-packaged, economy-sized bundle of boxer-shorts for Christmas, I knew the days of sleepless Christmas Eves and giddy Christmas mornings were over. There seemed to be an instantaneous shift in the dates I circled on the calendar and dreamt about months in advance. Good-bye holidays, and hello opening days.

So as I was recently lying in bed, visions of roosters were flushing ahead. Minnesota’s pheasant hunting opener was almost in sight and I couldn’t wait for my pup to put some birds into flight… Okay, I’ll stop. But honestly, being awake all night in anticipation of the season we’ve all been not-so-patiently waiting for got me thinking… You know it’s opening day when:

  • While you were physically at work last week, you’ve been mentally absent the past three days
  • That quiet, little gas station in the Middle of Nowhere suddenly has more traffic than the Vegas Strip
  • You find yourself rubbing dirt on your shiny new chaps just so no one can possibly confuse you for a rookie
  • There’s so much unnecessary gear packed in the back of your truck, you had legitimate concern over suffocating the dogs
  • Various blaze orange militias have been staking out properties so early in the morning that even duck hunters would blush
  • Three generations of family members can come together at one spot and not argue
  • Your normally quiet and well-behaved bird dog sounds more like the Tasmanian Devil is waiting to be unleashed from your kennel
  • The second your boots touch grass, you get an ear-to-ear smile and instantly know you did it –  somehow managing to survive another off-season

Whether you’ve already been chasing birds, your season opens this weekend, or you have to wait until November (sorry, Kansas), how do you know it’s opening day?

The Over/Under blog is written by Andrew Vavra, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Marketing Specialist. 


Dog Power is Key to Opening Pheasant Hunt

Monday, October 17th, 2011

(left to right) Bob St.Pierre, Steve Kuyper, Brian Zustiak, John Kuyper, Billy Hildebrand, Erik Hildebrand and Matt Kucharski (operating the camera) with 9 roosters before hunting the day's final walk.

My Blackberry was hot to the touch on Saturday night as emails, texts, Facebook posts and phone calls reported pheasant opener results from South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Results from my circle of friends were mixed, as tends to be the case when you hear from a wide variety of folks hunting a wide array of locations. 


As for my Minnesota pheasant hunting party, the key phrase was “dog power.”  In total, we had seven hunters behind eight bird dogs on Saturday.  Those eight dogs were comprised of five golden retrievers (Tess, Tyson, Duke, Acea and Stella), one Lab (Lucy), one Brittany (Snap), and my shorthair (Trammell).  With the pointing breeds sweeping the ends and the flushers crashing through the heavier cover in the middle, we found enough roosters to bag 13 of our 14-bird daily limit on two public Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) in central Minnesota on Saturday. 


I was very surprised at the number of birds we saw considering Minnesota’s roadside count drop of 64 percent.  Unfortunately, I heard from a wide variety of folks struggling to bag birds this weekend that believed in every percentage point of Minnesota’s roadside count plunge. 


As “Hannibal” used to say on the A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together.”  We employed many of the strategies I blogged about last week.  Here was my group’s ingredient’s for success:


1)      Dog Power.  When it comes to pheasant hunting, bird dogs are critical.  Having eight dogs in the field with us definitely tipped the scales in our favor for finding, flushing and locating downed roosters.


2)      Winter Cover.  We hunted in two massive WPA complexes on Saturday.  In addition to nesting cover grasses, both featured very large cattail sloughs, along with willow thickets and conifer shelter belts.  There is no doubt last winter was brutal across central Minnesota; however, the birds that lived in these two spots had the thermal cover necessary to bring adult birds through the winter months.

We hunted WPAs with a mix of good thermal cover and nesting cover, next to corn fields.

3)      Juveniles Dominated the Bag.  At least half of our take on Saturday consisted of very young roosters still developing their full plumage. This likely indicates that hens found some late re-nesting success after failing during the cold and wet spring.  The number of juveniles we saw also left me optimistic for hunts in November and December when these youngsters will be easier to identify as roosters.


4)      Corn Harvest.  The other piece of the puzzle working in our favor on Saturday was the harvest of corn fields immediately adjacent to both of the WPAs we targeted.  Not only did both WPAs hold the cover necessary to bring birds through tough weather conditions during the last year, their afternoon all-you-can-eat corn buffet was being removed while we were hunting the fields they were naturally escaping to as the tractor rolled.


If you’ve hunted the openers in North Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Minnesota or anywhere else this young season, let me know how things have gone for you by leaving a comment below.



The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

New Year’s Resolutions for the Pheasant Opener

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

As the sun rises on a new pheasant season, what resolutions will you make?

I pledge to do the following during the 2010-2011 pheasant hunting season:

1) Take the time to pluck more pheasants than I breast and always save every pheasant leg.  Legs make great soup.

2) Follow my dog even if I don’t believe there is a bird in the direction she’s heading with a wagging tail.

3) Shrug off my missed shots like a pro ballplayer after a strike-out knowing he’s going to hit a homer in the next at bat.

4) Always have my skunk kit in my truck, porcupine pliers in my vest, and a list of local vets in every town I travel.

5) I promise to speak up about safety and ethics in the field with my hunting partners.  Six people were shot in North Dakota during last weekend’s opener.  That’s appalling.

6) I’m going to take preventative measures to avoid leg cramps this season by drinking more fluids, eating a banana, and stretching before each hunt. 

7) I am going to leave my Blackberry in the truck.

What is your 2010-2011 pheasant season resolution?

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing