Late-Season Hunt

In order to have a successful late season hunt, you may have to layer up in order to stay warm. And the birds have been educated and you need to do a quiet approach to the habitat you’re hunting, but, as this photo shows, there are good numbers of birds to hunt in the late season.

What we had planned was a late season hunt, which meant that the pheasants were educated and very spooky.

Our crew would use late season tactics on this hunt, entering the cover quietly, with walkers, wing men as well as blockers it didn’t take us long to have pheasants erupting from the cover.

As the hunters neared the center of the field, several birds rose up with several hunters yelling "Rooster", allowing those hunters on either side and those blocking know that they were shootable birds.

I was on the wing and saw the birds coming up, using the wind to their advantage, they gained attitude as they rose, winging their way out of the corn.

The shotguns of those hunters, pushing the middle, came up quickly and with the report from several shotguns, two brightly colored roosters tumbled to the ground.

Only one rooster made it through the original barrage, but as it came between the walkers and blockers, was quickly picked up by the opposite side wingman and a single shot brought it to the ground, with the dogs quickly retrieving the birds as the group continued our push through the corn and grass.

After walking the first field, with the first birds of the hunt added to our game bag, I thought to myself, this wasn’t our groups' first rodeo as the way these hunters shot, this hunt may end very quickly.

It was late season and when I arose, the outside temperature read six degrees, a little cool to be heading north for a pheasant hunt near Howard.

Our group joined Kevin Shumaker at his Top Gun Hunting Ranch lodge for this late season pheasant hunt on the 3200 acres ranch, 2000 acres of it in the preserve with CRP, grasses, shelterbelts and food plots.

We met at Top Guns Lodge, where we donned our cold weather and hunter orange clothing, as Kevin loaded his dog trailer with several his well-trained dogs.

At our first field we walked food plots and grass strips, with several of us walking the food plot while two of our hunters proceeded to the end of the field to block.

The walkers along with the dogs pushed the middle as one wingman on either side of the corn moved slightly ahead of the walkers, helping to keep the birds in the corn and giving us the opportunity for a shot at the birds that came up out of range of our walkers.

Our walkers worked their way slowly through the corn, as the dogs worked from one side of the field to the other, following up the scent of the birds, locating them, where they pointed or flushed the bird.

As Kevin moved through the field, one of the dogs, went on point, Kevin indicated that there was a point up ahead with our walkers slowly moving up behind the dog. Nearing the area, the dog had pointed, Kevin said, "get him out of there", with the dog moving forward, flushing not one but three birds.

Our guns came up in unison, getting a bead on one bird, dropping it, while the hunters on the outside did their best to take the highflying bird with the wind to its back coming out ahead of them.

Just as before, very few birds escaped, with the dogs rooting out any birds that dropped.

At times, on a hunt, the best hunting can happen anywhere in the field, sometimes it's in the field while at other times it happens when the hunters and dogs approach the end.

Pheasants are notorious runners, preferring to run away from danger, taking wing when they are well out of shotgun range.

These birds didn't make the mistake of coming up within shotgun range, those running ahead of the walkers either come up out of range or bury themselves in deep cover, hoping the hunters walk by, which rarely happens when hunting with dogs as they root them, or the birds burst from the cover at the end of the field.

As the walkers approached the end of the field, another hunter and I stationed ourselves on the far side of the cedar shelterbelt, waiting for the other hunters to push the birds to us.

Sometimes, the best-laid plans don't always work out and as the hunters approached us, just a short distance of where we blocked, we prepared for what we just knew was coming, roosters taking wing out all around us out of the cedars, in shotgun range, giving us some of the best shooting opportunities of the hunt.

The walkers encouraged the dogs to "get them up" as they slowly moved up on the trees and the end of the field.

We could see some of the dogs working the cover through the trees and they were "birdy" getting close to the birds, when the sound of the birds blowing from the cover, their wings grabbing air as they made their way towards us and it was about to happen.

Again, there were numerous shotgun blasts, then others, and as a bird got up above the trees where we might have a shot, another shot echoed through the cedars and the bird went down.

The shooting subsided as the dogs made their way through the trees followed closely by the walkers, when one of the hunters asked, "Get any birds", Jokingly, I said "not the way you guys were shooting, as there weren’t any birds that got away,"

We hunted several fields, corn, CRP and some trees, on each trip through the fields, there we lots of birds, with the dogs doing a great job, finding and retrieving and some excellent shooting

It was an excellent hunt, with plenty of pheasants; where we spent some time with old friends, met some new ones and a hunt helping to raise funds for a good cause.

Gary Howey, Hartington, Nebraska is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide, an award- winning writer, producer, photographer and broadcaster and in 2017 was inducted into the "National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame."

Howey is also an award-winning writer, producer, broadcaster, former tournament angler, fishing and hunting guide and in 2017 inducted into the "National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame”.

He developed and was the Producer-Host for 23 years of his award winning gary Howey’s Outdoorsmen Adventures television series. He’s the Host of the award-winning Outdoor Adventures radio program carried on Classic Hits 106.3, ESPN Sports Radio 1570 in Southeastern South Dakota, KWYR Country 93 AM and Magic 93 FM in Central South Dakota, As well as on KCHE 92.1 FM in Northwest Iowa. If you’re looking for more outdoor information, check out www.GaryHowey' , and, with more information on these Facebook pages, Gary Howey, Gary E Howey, Outdoor Adventure Radio, Team Outdoorsmen Productions.

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