Rivett’s Refuge Preserve near Mina, SD: When you hear ringnecks cackling from the front porch, you know it’s just going to be a great day. Founder Ron Rivett brought his high school friends (class of who-knows-when) for a hunt at the refuge and preserve bearing his name.
Standing corn can drive a semi-claustrophobe like me frantic, but the prospect of flying roosters kept the mania under control. Dogs, hunters and pheasants darted among the rows, and as usual, what Hell there was broke out at the end of the walk. This writer was glad to move to grass and sorghum, where at least you can see everyone, and sometimes the dogs.
The joy of a place like Rivett’s is the variety of covers, so no matter what the weather, condition of the ground, even wind direction, we could hunt with confidence. Beautifully planned shelterbelts were the most fun … dogs coursing the trees, the scream from Buddy’s beeper signaling point after point. Birds erupted from the ground, tangling then disengaging from the tree branches with a clatter. I connected with one bird in spite of the branches between us. Another towered above the trees for a clear shot and fall into a small pond right into the frame of camera operator Lynn Berland. Of course, Buddy tiptoed around the water rather than through it for the retrieve.
Our walk to the bus yielded the brightest of many spots in the day: all aboard but Mike, camera operator Tad Newberry and I, almost tripped over Buddy locked solidly in a tangle of grass mere yards form the bus. Tad rolled, Mike ducked and I kicked out what has since become known in these parts as the “bus bird.” Awesome!
As the commercials go, “but wait, there’s more.” And there was, as we walked back to the lodge through trees, grass and bean fields. Incredible finds, solid points, and a bird for Jason that will soon occupy a place on the wall – inch-long spurs and a body tinged in pastel colors, lighter than any bird short of albino I’ve seen.
It’s a lot easier after a couple days like this to be grateful. And I am. Watch for it next season on Wingshooting USA.
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