If you read the story of the pheasant hunt that took place on my 60th birthday (Nov 25th post), you will recall that I had a rooster dead to rights that day. Lola chased him into a patch of fragmites along the 30 foot wide ditch that runs along the east boundary of our club. Across the ditch is a thick brush patch. The rooster, since named the birthday rooster, rose out of the fragmites and gave me an easy shot at 25 yards, but I let him go for fear that he’d end up on the opposite shore where Lola might not retrieve him.
Since that day I’ve hunted that spot several times in a personal battle to bring home the birthday rooster. Each time he’d flush out in front of me before I could get in range. It was beginning to look like 2009 would pass without bagging BDR. However, Saturday’s duck hunt was so slow that I decided to make another attempt at the bird. Lola and I approached from the opposite direction of our typical hunt.
Lola was on a bird for about 150 yards, working hard, but not coming up with anything. As we approached the ditch, she was in high gear, running nose down, turning, jerking and tail wagging out of control. She passed a fragmite patch and stuck her head in twice. The third time she did more than just sniff. As she rumbled through the patch, BDR burst upward – the thick branches forced the bird upward as he let out a continuous cackle.
This time Lola forced him away from the sancuary. He passed in front of me at about 10 yards and we were briefly eye to eye. He made a 90 degree turn away from me and I hit him in the butt with steel twos as he began to swing towards safety. The birthday rooster was down and out.
Pheasant hunting was tough this year, but there are still enough birds at Mayberry to make a comeback if we get better weather next spring. Although I only bagged two wild roosters all year, I muffed quite a few chances and could have had five or six if I’d been shooting well. Rob and his two labs, tule and peatie, bagged 8 or 9 wild roosters this season, so it can be done.
Duck hunting has been very poor. The good news is that when December is poor, January is usually good. We’ll see.