Spent the first part of the week of Thanksgiving on our annual pheasant hunting trip to northwest Iowa. Our friends, Denny and Kathy Somers, once again blessed us with their hospitality. My dad, Denny and I were trying to remember how many years we have made this trip and we concluded that the first trip was in 1993. This year not only my dad and I went, but my wife, my mom, and my two girls made the 13 hour trek, all in one vehicle I might add.
We arrived at Denny and Kathy's, which is just west of Webb, Iowa, at about 8:30 on Saturday morning, after driving all night long when I got off work Friday. It had started to snow on us about 100 miles south of Webb, and when we arrived there was about an inch of snow on the ground. Katy really had fun playing in the snow.
We hunted most of the day Saturday with Denny and his son Nate. Neither me nor my dad got a bird on Saturday. I had an easy shot at a rooster that flushed right in front of me, but I wasn't able to connect. Denny shot a bird or two that day.
Both my dad and I are decent wingshooters, and have quite a bit of experience shooting doves. Pheasants are much bigger than doves, and one would think they would be easier to hit than a dove, but it isn't as easy as it might look. Usually with doves, you are allowed multiple shot opportunities, sometimes multiple boxes of shells. If you start off shooting bad, there are usually plenty more opportunities which allow you to make corrections and figure out what you are doing wrong. With pheasants, the shot opportunities are fewer, and there is less room for error. Also with doves, you usually see them coming from a long way off and you are more prepared for the type of shot you are going to have to take. With pheasants, you can't always be sure where the bird is going to flush. Even hunting behind dogs, the bird might flush from an area you aren't expecting. He might get up in front of you and fly straight away, or he might get up behind you and veer off to one direction or the other. To make it even more complicated, you also have to make a quick decision on whether it is a hen or a rooster. It is very challenging, but lots of fun.
On Sunday, we went to church with Denny and Kathy and then hunted that afternoon. Once again, my dad and I missed on our shot opportunities, but Denny was able to connect. He shot this bird that afternoon, and it has to be the prettiest one we have seen since we have been hunting pheasants. Denny has hunted pheasants all his life and has never had one mounted, but this one was so pretty and much bigger than the average rooster, and the dogs didn't chew it up, so he decided to get it mounted. The picture doesn't do it justice.
On Monday, my dad and I had two incidents where we were shooting at the same bird, and we couldn't tell who actually hit the bird. One of them we lost and the dogs never even found it. The other one we found, so we decided to split that one (I guess we have a competition going to see who shoots the most).
On Tuesday morning, right before we headed out to pheasant hunt, Denny got a call from his friend Mark Gustafson, who had been bowhunting that morning on some of Denny's property. He reported that he had just shot a buck that was at least a 10-point, so we headed over to help him load it up and to see how big it was. It turned out to be an 11-point that had lots of character. His right antler was a perfect half of a typical 10-point, but the left antler had an extra beam and a small drop tine. These deer in Iowa are much bigger bodywise than what we see on the property we hunt here in Texas. They estimated that this one field dressed at about 220 pounds.
After we helped Mark load up the deer and snap a few pictures we were off to the field for our last day of pheasant hunting. I was able to redeem myself for the poor shooting on the previous days and connected on two birds on Tuesday.
This was the first hunting trip for my new German Shorthair Pointer pup, Little Sioux (named after the river that runs through Denny's property), that Steph and I drove to Iowa earlier this summer to get. My friends Ralph Warkentin and Mike Hanson, who are both from Iowa, were excited to see the pup. They each have two dogs and all four are from the same bloodlines. Ralph's male dog, Jack, is the sire of my pup. I wasn't sure how she would do since I had been gone to Houston for the month prior to our trip and didn't have the time to work with her as much as I wanted. She is only 8 months old, and she did a good job at working close and not ranging out too far. She never did make a point, but she got birdy a couple times and got excited when a bird would flush. I need to get her on some quail in the next month or so, after it gets cold enough that the rattlesnakes will not be out for sure.