Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Part III: Hot and Hotter

After a long cast to the north from SE MT we found ourselves near Circle, MT. I knew the pheasant hunting in that part of the state was pretty good, but I wasn't sure about sharpies or huns. I knew they'd be there, but in what kind of densities? No other way to find out than to put dogs on the ground and investigate.

On the drive in to a BMA we saw LOTS of young pheasants, simply staggering considering the perceived lack of cover, at least compared to Kansas. We usually have much more CRP and edge cover, but here the only visible cover was wheat stubble cut rather high. Since pheasants aren't in season, we tried to avoid these birds and focus on stuff we thought would hold sharptails and huns. In the first photo is Ted on our first push along a strip of cover splitting two cut wheat fields. Again, the scale of the agriculture is amazing. I think there are plenty of places in western Kansas with similar scale, but it doesn't feel lquite ike Big Sky Country.

A quick circle with Bodie and Doc, the loaner dogs, produced nothing despite Doc's impressive cast to the far reaches of the strip. At least he saved us some walking! Back at the truck the landowner stopped by for a chat. He was incredibly friendly, and even drew some directions on the map where we would find birds. I think he felt sorry for us, and I'm sure he thought we were crazy to come all the way from Kansas to hunt his little piece of Montana heaven. Maybe we are crazy.

Driving to where the landowner thought we should go we encountered our first covey of huns, a large covey that broke out of the ditch and flew a short ways into a wheat field. It wasn't on the BMA, so we made a mental note and proceeded to hunt an field of CRP set between two coulees, again with the Loaners. The farmer said earlier "you can shoot all the grouse you want here" as he pointed to the map. He was right. Doc was the first to encounter birds. His enthusiasm coupled with the lack of wind meant some bumped birds. Dogs were pointing and birds were getting up, and dogs were breaking and putting up more and more birds. I might have wounded a sharpie but I lost focus when Doc instantly located more birds. After the dust settled we noticed Bode was gone, but the Astro indicated he was coming back. He had followed that sharptail more than 200 yards and was making a stylish retrieve. Five minutes later he pinned a lone grouse on the edge of the CRP, which Ted dropped, and Bode completed the retrieve. Bode was quickly establishing credibility, and it was obvious he was going to contribute on an already capable string of bird dogs in their prime.

We tried to locate some huns around some edge cover and grain bins, and beside some good dogwork on pheasants, we were unsuccessful. By then the temperature was approaching 80 degrees so we called it a day and drove to Circle to meet up with two friends of Ted's. From there we pushed to NE Montana to focus on huns. We hunted the next three days looking for huns, and finding sharptails and pheasants. The heat only allowed us to hunt until mid morning, and we'd usually scout the second half of each day. One morning we found four coveys of huns in one spot, so we were having some success. But because they were so spread out and tied to certain landmarks, Ted and I decided to push west and get away from the agriculture to hunt the larger expanses of sage country and native grasses. I think I prefer to hunt birds in more natural landscapes as opposed to ag country.


Shawn K. Wayment, DVM said...


Sounds like a great trip!

What part of Kansas are you from? I spend a great deal of time in your state!!!


Jon Uhart said...

Hey Shawn, I live in Kansas City suburbia, more or less.