A week ago, we were trundling down the highway somewhere in eastern Montana, bound for South Dakota. Our first night was spent in Deadwood…..gambling. I don’t gamble…..very well. Learning this hard way over years, I keep my distance from the tables. However, my counterparts, ER and Lynn, are pros. Deep into the night, they are still at the tables and convince me to join. Throwing me chips, red ones and green ones that is, I am in…..a short while later, another cocktail arrives.
Did I order that, I ask myself?
ER must have seen the look on my face and replied, “She’ll deliver another when that’s done too.”
Shit, this could be a long night.
After a few more rounds, we split the Morning Star and walked down the street the Old Style Saloon #10. Years ago, the original place was in the alley across the street, according to some local who was barely standing outside…..he sounded believeable – with a salt & pepper beard, hard wrinkles, holey jeans, leather vest and rough pointed boots. This is the establishment where Wild Bill was shot & killed. We played single deck black jack till they closed, then headed down the street, but I can’t remember where. Deadwood was kind to me, paying for half my bird hunting trip. How nice. I highly doubt that will happen again.
Lynn and Randy Havlik were born and raised in Kimball, South Dakota – dead smack in the middle of pheasant hunting madness. Lynn moved to Texas and Randy stuck around in South Dakota and owns the famous Antique Emorpiumin Deadwood. Everyear, they go back to the family farm for opening week of Pheasant Season. Back in 1987, fellow fishing guide Earl James – ER , was invited to the ritual. This season a few spots opened up and I got the invite.
Portions of South Dakota, this one in particular, remind me of Northern and Eastern Montana….but Sodak has piles of pheasants. We hunted stripped out corn with rough edges, CRP fields with food plots along side of 10 other hunters. We blocked the ends and walked the birds into flushing. This was big country and pushing birds was not only effective, but mandatory. The first day we shot 33 roosters from noon to 5. It felt gluttonous, but the birds we put up were unreal and numbered around 200-300 by the end of day…….and this with the pheasant numbers dropping 50% from last year. Having walked in Montana, from dawn till dusk over pointing dogs, this was quite different. Militant is a good word for Sodak Pheasant hunting. Fun, is another. When hunting in larger parties, there is a cetain amount of ribbing dulled out throughout the day. Giving your buddy a little shit for missing that rooster which flushed at his feet is more fun when you’ve gone two for two.
My pointers hunted well. Huckleberry is almost 10, hunts closer than he used to and found quite a few dead roosters for us. Stella got to run around, after the hunts, and look for dead birds in the CRP. We also had Stella hunt with us in the field, on her own, allowing her to run around and figure a few things out. She flushed many and pointed a few….running roosters are hard to pin for a puppy at 11 months. The weather didn’t cooperate that well, and overheating the dogs could’ve been a problem. They rested more than I would have liked, but 65 and sunny doesn’t work well when your covered with hair and sweat through your mouth and pads….