There’s No Place Like South Dakota
My favorite South Dakota pheasant hunting memory? I’m glad you asked, but it’s hard to pick just one.
I’ll never forget those early years out in north-central South Dakota with my family. As teenagers on those December days, my brother and I were relegated to posting field corners, where our bodies struggled to contain heat while our shotguns didn’t. We didn’t hit much in those days, but the spectacle was enough for two boys crazy about hunting.
I’ll never forget standing high atop a hillside watching, at a distance, my dad and his good friend work the sunlit draw below. The winds were howling, and a rooster flushed and banked, immediately putting the wind behind its flapping wings and lengthy tail. It takes a lot of pheasant hunts to calculate a lead like that, but my dad – who’s always been a good shot – swung, pulled the trigger and followed through as that rooster sailed down into the grass. A couple seconds later, the sound of the gunshot finally reached my perch.
I’ll never forget the year the temperatures on our late-season pheasant trip never made it above 10 degrees, while the northwest winds made it feel like -10 to -20 below. Still, the most miserable moment of that trip was when it came to an end.
I’ll never forget the old pickup that stopped on that country road, the man asking us if we needed any help. We were struggling to find a downed bird, so he called his mutt of a farm dog out of the cab and before you blinked it dug that rooster out of the grass. I see why that dog rode up front.
I’ll never forget my own bird dog flushing her first wild South Dakota birds last year. She filled her mouth with rooster feathers, but it was no less fun watching her yip as she chased hen pheasants away – I’m still amazed by the spectacle, but with a four-legged twist.
And I’ll never stop looking forward to my next South Dakota pheasant hunting adventure. This year will be special, as my newest hunting partner, my longtime girlfriend Kaily, will be joining “Sprig” and I for her first trip to “The Pheasant Capital.” I hope South Dakota is always capable of amazing a new pheasant hunter, while stirring up the passion in an older one like me, who in his heart is still a 16-year-old boy posting by an old fence, warming himself with the hope of just one more rooster.
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