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Posts Tagged ‘Pierre South Dakota’

On top of everything else, Gov.  Mike Rounds stopped in the pub and visited for a bit!

That’s just how things work in my second-favorite state, South Dakota. Secret public spots shared by good friend Joey … incredible hospitality … and the birds. THE BIRDS! Ten miles from Pierre on the Ft. Pierre National Grasslands, is a place wild beyond imagination. Unplowed prairie like the pioneers found, water, cover, crops nearby and a flourishing population of ringnecks. And sharptails. And did I mention prairie chickens?

After a week on the injured reserve list, nephew Manny was out of the box and hunting before I could get the e-collar on his uncle Buddy. Both were glad to be moving – fast – after a long day of travel from Wyoming. Into the tough cover, the rattle of dry grass, and … silence! As deafening as a thunderclap, the quiet was soon interrupted by our jaws dropping as we found Buddy on point. Manny slid into a beautiful back, and a very young rooster cackled skyward. A second or third hatch? Anyone know what the bird situation was in the area this fall?

Here’s the country:

Joey is a deadeye and dropped the bird at 40 yards. A bounce, two dogs vectoring for it, and nothing. Buddy’s a lackluster retriever, especially if he thinks someone else will pick up the slack. Evidently even Manny fits that bill. Redirected into the thick stuff, and again, nada. A delberate track toward the next patch, though, scared the wing-clipped bird into a race ultimately won by Buddy.

We celebrated with a tall cold one at a local pub, and as we shared videos and toasted Joey’s recent wedding, in walked friend of hunters Gov. Mike Rounds. I hadn’t seen him since our interview at the SHOT show, so a lot of reminscing took place. He’s served South Dakota as governor for eight years, is term limited-out,  and will soon have a little more time for … hunting! See you in the field Mike!

And here’s our bag:

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The TV weather guy said hot and dry, but we know how trustworthy television folk are. We woke to cold fog, thick as any on a vampire movie set.

But Bob Tinker was undeterred, loading horses and dogs into his trailer for a long drive in the general direction of the Ft. Pierre National Grasslands. By the time we pulled through the barbed-wire gate onto a vast, unbroken prairie, a bright yellow ball was rising from behind the eastern ridge. Problem one, gone. This episode of Wingshooting USA will be pretty, if nothing else.

Here’s a behind-the-camera glimpse of how this rodeo works. In this case, I’m running the camera and take all the blame for the shakiness! Amber is after a small covey, Bob wrangles horses, I try to stay on the horse while shooting some video. Tad and Lynn run “real” cameras on the ground:

Problem two: staying in the saddle while following big-running setters. With help from wrangler and fellow hunter Amber Funk, I was up and ready – in theory. But I could use both hands to death-grip my saddle and reins, unlike Tad Newberry and Lynn Berland, who toted high definition video cameras. (My wife, a former competitive rider, still gets the same advice from me when she heads for the barn: “stay on top!”)

The sea of grasses was rich in life, from tiny blooms to sharptail grouse that held surprisingly well for our stampede. The drill went like this: point-tumble off horse-pull shotgun from scabbard and load as you scramble toward the bird. Once in a while, everything went according to plan and a bird fell to earth. (more…)

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