It was the afternoon of opening day. Fred and I were headed east along an interior berm with water on both sides of us. Lola was hot, but she was all over the place. After leading us in what seemed like hot pursuit, she turned and headed back in the direction we came from. As I stood facing west, towards Lola, a rooster shot upward from ten feet to my right.
I quickly swung and proceeded to unload my Beretta without touching the bird. Fred swung on it and missed his first two shots, but on the last shot, he broke a wing and the bird went down. Neither of us could see exactly where.
Lola ran to a ditch and stopped. We didn’t know if the bird had made it across, but odds were it had. So, I lined Lola up and sent her. She climbed into the 25 foot wide ditch and swam across. When she reached the other side, her nose went into gear. Within 30 seconds she had scent and ran northward along the ditch as full speed. After about 50 yards she turned east and ran smack into the rooster. This is what makes pheasant hunting exciting.
It was a thrill to see her in action. And, this was not her only impressive feat of the day. Earlier she had rooted a rooster out of tall fragmites and I dropped it, but as with the other bird, it landed on the other side of a ditch. She fought her way through the thick tules and found the bird on the opposite side, bringing it back. In all she raised five or six roosters and retrieved four that we downed. As a group, four of us came in with six birds. We did manage to lose a couple, but that’s not unusual in thick cover and wild birds.
Since opening day, Lola and I have only been out once. The birds were much tougher, but we’ll be back out again this weekend to see if we can turn it around. It appears that the Mayberry hatch must have been pretty good last spring. We need a couple more good years of good spring weather to improve brood success and bring the pheasants back.