Dakota Country Magazine October 2016 Edition - Page 10

27 Rooms of Comfort at Beautiful Lake Oahe! MoRest Motel Clean Rooms & Friendly Service! Brent & Kelly Kemnitz Owners • • • • • Wireless Internet Ample Parking/Outside Outlets MoPro Guides Air Conditioned Rooms Cable TV Freezer Available for your Fish/Game “Big Fish on Walking Distance to Restaurants Light Tackle” 605-845-3668 Highway 12 West Mobridge, SD north of our hometown of Brookings. I was too polite to ask him to take me hunting, but I did mention to him a few hundred times I would be happy to help him scare up some birds. One day Ralph swung by the house Lake Oahe, SOUTH DAKOTA! BOAT RAMP • CAMPSITES U.S. Hwy 212 Missouri River Bridge • Steakhouse - Featuring Famous Char-Broiled Steaks Grea Fishingt Hunting& ! • Fall Pheasant Guiding • Motel/Cabins overlooking Lake Oahe • General Store - Ice, Beer, Bait, Tackle, Gas, Groceries, Licences & Guide Service 29336 US Hwy 212 • Gettysburg, SD 57442 (605) 765-2500 www.BobsResort.com email: bobsresort@bobsresort.com Page 10, Dakota Country, October 2016 and said he was headed to the farm, and asked if I was still interested in helping him out. I played it coy, waiting a full split-second before I agreed. I grabbed my 20 gauge, a single shot Sears or Montgomery Wards brand that was already far older than I was, and had a hammer that took two men and a dog to pull back. If your thumb slipped, the gun went off. I still have the gun, by the way, but it’s hidden away and I don’t let anyone shoot it. I would rather people play with a set bear trap than try to safely cock the old shotgun. We arrived at the farm and walked down into a huge, dry slough. Ralph placed me on the far right because I’m left-handed and my tendency was to let the shotgun barrel wander to the right. We walked through cattails and bulrushes, trying to keep a straight line with the dozen or so men we had hunting. It was impossible to stay in line with rushes 10 feet high, but we tried. After a half hour of beating the weeds to death, I reached a small dirt clearing that once held water, but was now dry and barren of vegetation. Ralph was immediately to my left, and the rest of the group was also in that general direction, some ahead, some behind. My only safe shot was to the right or straight ahead. I stopped in the clearing to catch my breath or something. I really don’t remember. We didn’t have water bottles back then, and candy bars were a luxury we couldn’t afford. When I paused, a rooster jumped up some 20 feet to my right, and turned left, flying in a gentle curve in front of me. And it cackled. Ralph shouted, “Shoot!” Although I was short a man and a dog to get the hammer back, I cocked the gun with the help of a boost of adrenaline, and followed the bird about 10 feet with the bead just off his beak. At my shot, the bird crumpled and landed dead in the opening. I rushed to the spot and wrung its neck, as I had seen everyone who shot a pheasant do. Ralph smiled at me, almost a grin, and said, “Nice shot,” one of the first and only times I ever saw him show any emotion. We finished walking the slough, but at that time I had no bird carrier or vest, so I held onto my rooster every bit as tenaciously as a bear clamping onto a salmon. There was no way I was going to get another shot off holding the bird and the shotgun, but it just didn’t matter. At the end of the day, we had a pile of pheasants to take home, but I kept my bird separate and watched it carefully for signs of life, lest it be faking death and make an escape. I wanted so much to casually carry it into my house like it was an everyday occurrence, but I’m pretty sure I held it more like the Olympic Torch, high and shining brightly. Ralph came in for a drink, and mentioned to my parents I had made a good shot. This was high praise indeed, worthy of a gold medal. Before mom cleaned the bird, a job she knew well as a veteran farm girl, I looked at the bird in wonderment, stroking its feathers and thanking the powers that be for my incredibly good fortune. I thought to myself this was truly a gaudy, flamboyant and raucous rooster. And it was mine. • www.dakotacountrymagazine.com