Hunting with a gun dog

Dennis and Jim trek through the sea of switch grass
Dennis and Jim trek through the sea of switch grass

Cassie pointing a tight-sitting pheasant
Cassie pointing a tight-sitting pheasant

Jim accepts a rooster from Muda
Jim accepts a rooster from Muda, one of her spectacular retrieves

An oddball pheasant Jim shot
An oddball pheasant Jim shot

Maggie with our last South Dakota Bird of the year
Maggie with our last South Dakota Bird of the year

Download the Hunting with a gun dog document (.doc)

December 2005—South Dakota Pheasants
Location: Southeast South Dakota
Hunters: Brad Adrian and Mick, Dennis Hofflander and Cassie, Jim Julson and ‘Muda, Justin DeBerg and Sylvan and the girls and me.

During the final couple of weeks of the South Dakota season, I managed to sneak out with a number of different people who I had not been able to hunt with as much as I had planned. I’m going to lump these into one posting, as many of the outings I’m lacking pictures for due to the camera being dead or it being too cold for pictures.

The first outing found Brad, Dennis and me on a large tract of public land. This time Maggie was still on the shelf. Not only was she still healing from the ear injury, but a week and a half before the hunt I had to perform surgery on her foot to remove a prickly pear spine that had formed a large mass between her toes.

Emma had been improving tremendously, and I wanted to try her in one field to see how she would be that evening. The three of us set off with a French Brittany, a German Wirehair and a Chessie. I was somewhat skeptical, as we had seen three separate groups leave the area we were going to hunt, but my skepticism proved to be unfounded as we immediately started to get into birds.

While all of the dogs worked great, Dennis’s dog Cassie proved to be the star of the show, of course we expected her to be after claiming a NAVHDA Utility Prize 1 this summer and spending the fall guiding pheasant hunters on a daily basis.

The weather, birds, dogs and good friends combined to make the hunt into one of those great outings.

On my next outing I again went with Dennis and Cassie, but this time we were joined by Jim Julson and his NAVHDA Utility Small Munsterlander ‘Muda (short for Bermuda). I had elected to set Emma out the rest of the year after our last outing, but Maggie was recovered and back in the lineup.

This time found us on a stretch of private land that truly looked to be pheasant Shangri La. I started out packing the camera and with Maggie in the truck, which proved to be a worthwhile endeavor, as Cassie presented me with some nice points and ‘Muda with two spectacular retrieves. I had dropped a pheasant behind me and saw him take off running. I marked the spot where I saw him take off and Jim brought ‘Muda over and gave her the trail, which she promptly took off in hot pursuit and recovered the very lively rooster.

In the next pass we had all three dogs on the ground, which proved to be quite the combination. Although it was a simple retrieve, Maggie was able to get in on the action, showing the versatile dogs this setter was no slouch.

In the last field of the day ‘Muda once again showed her amazing retrieving abilities. A wing-tipped rooster went sailing over a rise, which she had marked perfectly. She had the mark dead-on and trailed to running bird making her third amazing retrieve of the day, and this one in particular would have made any retriever aficionado proud.

The following day found me swamped with work; however, I was able to sneak out for a little over an hour to run Maggie. Not too far into the field we had our first bird of the day and I was incredibly content. As we neared the far fenceline Maggie got very birdy, but instead of snapping into point she sidestepped several yards and bee lined for the fence. She spun around working back towards me and slid into a point. I walked in to flush a hen and was incredibly proud of the dog work I had just witnessed. While I was gloating with my gun at my side a rooster flushed, and I was unprepared to even fire a shot. Had I been paying attention we would have had two birds in the bag.

New Year’s Eve I spent most of the day hunting with Justin DeBerg and his Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Sylvan. We had received more snow this week, and I was battling a severe cold. Sylvan did his part working the cover and busting the cattails, but for all of our efforts we just were not finding any birds. In the last spot we hunted, we had a group of Hungarian partridge give us a flyby, but the one quick shot I had did not find its mark. Having spent most of the day in drifts from my knees to my hips, I decided to call it a day and headed for home.

The South Dakota season ends on the first and I likely had fired my last shots of the season. I’m not quite ready to hang the guns up though as Iowa’s season goes until the 10th and Nebraska until the end of the month…so stay tuned.