When Roosters Don’t Fly

Imagine a seemingly perfect day to bird hunt in Eastern Colorado: four dogs, three guns, no visible competition, and miles upon miles of pristine CRP fields.  This ideal scenario should produce a limit of birds for each hunter before the coffee cools at the local 7-Eleven.  Unfortunately for us, eight hours of aggressive hunting in thirty degree weather produced a plethora of flushing hens, but not one colorful rooster.    

The initial strategy involved hunting specific pivots in the early morning.  After passing the only hunter we saw during the entire day (in the adjacent pivot), we stopped at the next available pivot to begin our first stalk.  Upon exiting my truck, I heard the sudden crack of gun shots (three to be exact) while simultaneously watching the rooster fly quickly away from the other hunter.  Fantasies of limiting out on this first tract of land suddenly filled my mind.  One hunter, one dog, one rooster within fifteen minutes of exiting his vehicle.  My quick math had our four dogs finding a proportional number of birds in 3.75 minutes.  Unfortunately the dogs never got birdy, and we left the first few spots before 8 am.  As we drove North to hunt larger CRP fields, an enormous swarm of pheasants started to fly over the road between the cut corn and a large grass field.  Unfortunately, the birds flew from one private section of land to another, so the dogs and guns remained in the trucks.   

Our group made a collective and calculated decision to approach a landowner or three and ask if we could hunt their property.  One gentlemen said that he was having guests that day so we could not hunt his land.  He warned us that another farmer we wanted to contact would not allow us to hunt his ground either.  We approached a final landowner, who turned out to be the caretaker, and who rudely stated that the land could not be hunted (a complete bummer as we saw many birds flying onto the property).  We did have cash on hand and would gladly have paid or worked for one hour of access.

The rest of the afternoon produced little results.  The dogs found their share of hens but we could not find the ever elusive rooster.    

As I drove down the back roads leading to Interstate 76, hoards of pheasants started to make their way from the corn fields back to the protective grass.  I quickly pulled over with a strong desire to not go home empty handed.  As I jogged into a field and shouldered my Beretta I hesitated.  To my dismay, there were just too many hens flanking my rooster thereby inhibiting an ethical shot.  That rooster actually landed on a hay bale about 100 yards from where I stood.   He turned his head in my direction then abruptly flew off. 

Getting up at 3 am, driving 450 miles and never firing your shotgun is not fun.  That said, there is something intrinsically satisfying about a day of pursuit.

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