Dakota Country Magazine October 2016 Edition - Page 9

but once it clears the grass and shrubbery, the afterburners kick in and the bird moves like a colorful butterfly with a 90-mph tailwind. The hunter must drop his or her water bottle or candy bar, thump their chest briskly two or three times to get their heart going again, check the locations of other hunters and the dogs, and take aim at the bird. By now the rooster is out of range, but it’s mandatory to empty your shotgun in case a “Hail Mary” shot takes the bird down. When your gun is empty and you’re searching through the weeds for your water and candy bar, two more roosters will jump up right beside you. By now, you’re more frustrated than frightened, and reach into your vest for more shells. Your vest is also where you keep your candy bars, or if you are less than 30 years old, your granola bars. Neither a candy bar nor a granola bar will generally fit into your shotgun, although I have had some luck with smaller treats you can steal from your kids at Halloween. Because you can’t fit both junk food and a shotgun shell into your gun, these birds will also get away, and for the rest of the day you will flush nothing but hens, except at sunset. An occasional rooster will fly directly toward the setting sun, where you cannot tell if it’s a rooster or hen. You can’t tell, in part, because all pheasants are dark lumps when flying into the sun. Also, old hens have longer tail feathers than @TRichardson50 young hens, while young roosters have shorter tail feathers than old roosters. Mainly, roosters have learned not to cackle, at least when within a range of a hunter. Cackling is nothing more than a verbal ID confirming the legal status of the bird. Pheasants know this. I don’t know how, but they know it. Roosters will cackle before and after legal shooting time, and when they’re out of range, but other than that they’re as silent as a hardened criminal during a police interrogation. It’s only a matter of time before they learn to ask for an attorney. I remember the first rooster I ever shot. Dad took me hunting now and then, but we rarely got out of the car. The laws on trespass changed about the time I @ajsolem88 was able to shoot with a real gun, and all private land was automatically off limits without permission. This was also about the time the “Soil Bank” program went out of existence and the Secretary of Agriculture told ag producers to “farm fence row to fence row.” As a result, birds were few and far between. Even though I could lope through the tallest cover like a wolf on fire, the cover was gone and there seemed to be little reason to get permission to run around stubble fields. Our hunting consisted of driving around until we saw a pheasant in a ditch. I don’t recall we ever saw a pheasant in a ditch where it was safe and legal to shoot. However, dad did have a friend named Ralph whose family had a farm somewhere @millbornseeds #SDintheField SHARING THE STORIES OF OUR CUSTOMERS @EmilyKiel www.dakotacountrymagazine.com @ccorey_cam @liveinfocus4 Dakota Country, October 2016, Page 9