South Dakota Pheasant Hunt, Day 1

An up and down first day gives us hope, but leaves us with wet feet and tired legs.

Our first day is cloudy with a wind requiring three layers of heavy clothing. We load our vest pockets with jerky and candy bars, and begin the season at 10 a.m. sharp on a half mile of CRP surrounded by corn and beans on three sides.

Our German shorthair, Ranger, runs crossing patterns in front of us. Five minutes into the hunt a nice rooster goes down with one quick shot. Looks like the conditions cannot stop the hunting engine we have unleashed.

But, as luck would have it, another bird isn't flushed until mid-afternoon. The walk through ankle deep and often knee deep water takes its toll on both hunter and dog. Three more fields are hunted and only two birds are claimed.

We end day one at a large expanse of prairie, scouting out the spot we might hunt tomorrow. The track of land is several square miles bordered by a road, a slue and corn on two sides.

We arrive with just a few minutes of daylight and hunting time remaining. The four of us, and Ranger, reluctantly jump in and head towards the large swell of water to evaluate the conditions for the next day.

As we approach the slue, a massive flush erupts as our hurried walk has pushed over 100 birds settling in to roost for the night. Streams of birds rush by as we strain in the remaining daylight to pick out the roosters. Guns are emptied and quickly reloaded while Ranger works overdrive on flushing and retrieving.

When the smoke clears, we count eight roosters. The last ten minutes of the day are said to be the best hunting you will ever experience—we are believers. We load our truck during the early minutes of darkness, as cackles from hundreds of roosting birds rise from the massive field.

Continue to Day 2...

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