Monday, November 22, 2010

Flat Grass

As far as rooster huntin' goes, snow means one thing, flat grass. With our first good coating of snow on the ground I had to go see what the birds were up to. The snow was of the heavy wet kind. You know, the stuff that makes your back crack and pop while shoveling it. It's more like white mud than snow.

Sure enough. At the arrival to my hunting destination I knew what I would be dealing with. All the tall native prairie grasses where as flat as a pancake. This situation can really make huntin' rudies a blast, literally. When you get enough, or heavy enough, snow fall it takes the majority of the pheasants habitat away. Now they are confined to small brushy patches that protect the undergrowth. This specific situation is super awesome and I'll tell you why. One of the pheasants biggest habitat during the winter months are cattails. Well, it hasn't been cold enough to freeze the wetlands up nice and solid. So, with water still under the cattails the pheasants wont be there yet. Now you have birds concentrated in these dry brushy patches of cover that the snow can not take down. Flat grass and wet cattails are rare and fantastic.

Another super awesome thing the snow does for a pheasant hunter is that it takes their legs away. Running birds that don't hold can really cause headaches. Especially this deep into the season. The birds have endured some hunting pressure and tend to be loose and not hold really tight causing out of range flushes. I'll put it this way, a rooster without legs is like a car without tires. Not so good. Wet snow or deep snow keeps the birds from running simply because they can't walk on top of it. This make them hold super tight which allows for some ultra awesome flushes.

My dog, Dixie, and I always let the wind decide what are approach is going to be. I want the wind swirling right up her beautiful nostrils. Helping her detect birds more efficiently and it also helps you guess the direction of the flushes. Birds generally try to flush into or across the wind.

Our first patch of cover was full of birds. As soon as Dixie entered the cover the birds started flushing instantly. Unfortunately, I had picked the wrong side to be on. Kind of always seems to work that way. In complete pandemonium, I sprinted to the side of the flushes. I didn't even make there and I already had a rooster beaded up. Both of the roosters legs dropped with my first shot. I watch him keep going in disbelief, while others will still bursting out of the brush mind you. With my jaw at my boots the rooster continued to gain altitude. I know whats going on here. Heart or lung shot. Typically you see this climbing with this type of shot. Sure enough, the rudie folded up and began a long long fall, right into the middle of our largest slough. This is going to be interesting. We camped out for a half our waiting for the wind to drift the "floater" into range. One really kick butt blind retrieve and the soaked rooster was in the vest. We pressed on for another.

When it snows, go shoot some rudies. The can hide, but they can't run.

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