Tag Archives: Holyoke

Unlucky but Lucky

November 9, 2013 was opening day of upland season in Colorado.  Admittedly, I started dreaming of this day when I closed the season in late January.  As fall approached, I began active preparation for the two and one half month season.  My lab, Pride, is ten years old and he needs to evolve into shape slowly.  We frequently toss a bumper in the early morning and late afternoon when the day is cool.  It is important that my gun dog is ready to endure long, hard days prowling public lands. 

My boys had basketball and soccer games on Saturday, so we decided to leave late in the afternoon in order to hunt on Sunday.  Opening weekend is busy, and the fields get crowded early.  In addition, the drought that has plagued the west over the last two years has caused a significant reduction in habitat that pheasants need in order to survive.  To that point, the numbers of birds across the region have seen a precipitous decline since 2011.  Greg and I decided to stay and hunt just across the border in Nebraska.  The walk-in-areas are limited, but we determined the crowds would not be a factor as their season was two weeks old. 

A rancher friend of mine told me that his family was going to attend the Pheasants Forever dinner in Holyoke and invited us to join them.  Pheasants Forever is an organization dedicated to the conservation of pheasants and other game birds.  Monies raised from these events support multiple initiatives including youth programs and habitat improvement.  These dinners are a great time to fraternize with other hunters who share the same passion for the outdoors.  Coincidentally, Greg spotted a man with whom he had gone dove hunting in September.  Mike and Art had hunted that day on private land, but they were only able to flush ten hens.  We asked if we could join them in the morning, and add three additional dogs to the pursuit.  They were open to the idea and we set a plan.

When Greg and I pulled into the motel we spoke to some hunters who were arriving from the field.  Along with harvesting four nice roosters, they filled three turkey tags.  Unfortunately, the hunters described difficult conditions, and emphasized the need to be efficient.  Sleep was non-existent as 5 am approached.  I had been posting questions on pheasant chat sites since 2:10 am, and I could not fall back asleep. 

At around 5:30 am we grabbed coffee, donuts and refueled the truck.  Greg and I would stop at the first walk in area, and let Pride do his business and take a run.  He actually got birdy when we approached the end of the CRP.  I hoped we would catch a couple of oblivious roosters prior to heading to feed in the corn fields.  Unfortunately, no birds showed themselves, so we loaded up in order to meet the rest of our crew.  Dave and Scott arrived with their dogs, Bogey and Otis.  Both dogs had been through extensive gun dog training with Gary Ruppel of Kiowa Creek Kennels.  The pups were ready to get on wild birds.

At about 7:30 am, we make our way into some dense CRP.  Spread out about one hundred and fifty yards wide, we worked the dogs into a quartering wind.  The group walked for hours, but a rooster never jumped.  Toward the end of the long trek, Pride and Bogey started to get excited.  The abutting country road was close, so an escaping bird would have to fly eventually.   Bogey went on point about 15 yards behind me, and a hen busted into the air.  While it was not the right gender, the action provided the dogs and hunters some much needed adrenaline.  Over the next couple of hours we managed to flush two additional hens. 

Hunting was hard and the day was getting warmer.  We made a joint decision to navigate the shelter belts on the property.  Blockers were deployed just inside the adjacent road in order to take down any evading roosters.  We collectively moved east with the four dogs.  I took Pride through the tree rows, but never saw him get hot.  We piled into Mike’s truck and moved to the next tree line.  The dogs worked through the dense foliage and they were obviously on a bird.  As we neared the edge, I heard Greg yell “rooster” and successive shots rang out.  With my gun pointed into the air I started to furiously look around.  I spotted the unscathed colored bird flying east, far out of my range. 

Mike and Art decided to head home as the early afternoon approached.  Dave, Greg, Scot and I made our way to a local restaurant to have some lunch.  The dogs needed a break, and we needed to refuel.  There are some public walk in areas just east of where we were staying in Nebraska.  I was told that the cover was thick and held birds.  It took about 35 minutes to make it to the field.  The temperature was in the 60s, and the wind was blowing at 15 mph from the west. Given the boundaries around the CRP, we had to walk with the breeze at our backs; a major disadvantage for the labs.  The cover was heavy, and difficult to maneuverer.   I bumped a nice eight point whitetail as I crested the first of two hills.   We covered every inch of the land but could not get a bird into the air.  Frustrated, Dave and Scott decided to head home.  Greg and I decided to hunt our way west with the hope that we would witness birds flying from corn to cover.  My Garmin GPS has every field that I have had success programmed into its database.  The setting sun provided enough light so that we could easily survey the land.  Unfortunately, we did not see one pheasant.  It was the first time over the last three years that I had not witnessed birds as the day closed.  Discouraged, we made our way to the highway and headed home. 

Upon immediate reflection, we realized that despite the absence of our quarry, we enjoyed our time in the field.  Spending time with friends and our dogs is always fun!

I will hunt hard over the coming months.  Hopefully, Pride and I will stumble across some birds.

Reviews – Prior upland product reviews can be found in archived articles



Sport-DOG Upland Hunter 1875

Awesome electronic dog collar.  All of the necessary features and functions. Easily programed for immediate effectiveness in the field.  There are great YouTube videos explaining each component of the collar.  Since my introduction to upland hunting, I have only used SportDOG collars.  My friends have recently invested in SportDOG collars for their new gundogs. We are all extremely satisfied with our SportDOG collars.

HEVI-Shot Pheasant

If the pheasant load is as effective as the duck load, I will ultimately be successful.  That said, I need to see a rooster in order to test my theory. 

Uplanders Warehouse

If you want to research and purchase the latest upland hunting equipment, visit this site.  Uplanders Warehouse offers a plethora of high end products at a competitive price. 

Hankook Dynapro ATM

So far so good.  I have put these tires through some tough terrain over the last year. No issue to date!  I purchased   the 10 ply tires.

SportDOG Nutrition  

I have used the SportDOG C9 nutrition products for almost one year.  My gundog and family dog have positively responded to the Hip/Joint, Hydration and Performance Vitamin products.  My dogs are old and these supplements have helped them adjust to their age.

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