Well after all this deer hunting for the last few weeks Rufus was at his wits end and was screaming to chase some birds. Well after seeing Rufus mope around for the last few days, I couldn’t take it any longer. So I decided to grab my old buddy, head down to the Honey Hole and take some inventory on the property after the “War Season” better known as slug season. Rufus and I dropped the Lil Man (Gage) off ay my Mom & Dads for the day and we headed South West in the rain/snow mix with a steady NW wind. Well when Rufus and I arrived down at the Honey Hole we found that the all wet heavy snow from this past weekend’s storm had pretty much knocked down all the CRP cover for the birds.
Well I knew the conditions of lack of cover would be a great thing for locating pheasants but a bad thing for my planned deer hunt that afternoon. Great, because this really concentrated the birds into the wood lines and made them easy picking. Bad, because if you have hunted with me in the past down at the Honey Hole you know I tend to stay far away from the wood line while hunting birds. I do this to leave the deer a place they are not disturbed as much and leave my stands free from scent and disruption. However this time out it was not about me or the deer, it was about getting my old buddy Rufus on some birds. So the wood line would be used and abused if necessary. I decided to take and work half of the wood line to try to get our limit of birds and leave the other half for my deer hunt. It did not take long as the first place we approached the tree line birds started to run and scatter everywhere on the snow crusted ground. Rufus and I approached the wood edge and birds started to flushing everywhere. Hen, hen, hen, RRRRROOOOOSTER…… BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. Nuttin I could still see some running on the ground in the wooded cover. Well that didn’t work out so I started to walk along the wood line and Rufus was revved up hot and started to flush a few hens. We turned the corner and started to get close the good stuff when Rufus’s tail really starts to whip and his ears come up and I know he is on another bird. All of sudden he take a hard right towards some sparse grass cover and flushes up another Rooster 10 yards in front of me. I pull up on the fleeing bird, bear down, squeeze the trigger and CLICK???????? What the heck?? I pull open and verify that I do have a shell in. I pull the shell out and notice the indent in the shell from the hammer and notice I have a dud. Just as Rufus is coming back he leaps and pounces in some brush 15 yards to my left and up pops another Rooster. As I’m fumbling to get another shell in my gun and all I can do is watch the Rooster fly away just like the one before without squeezing a shot off.
OK enough of that I’m ready now as I half laugh, half angry tell my Dog. We continue to work to the good thick cover and Rufus is working just great as he has some good spring in his old step. When I watch him sprinting to the right as he is hot on the trial of a running rooster as I see the rooster run, stop and take flight as Rufus was closing the distance. I quickly pull up my gun and did not give that bird much time before squeezing the trigger and dumping our first bird hard to the ground. Rufus was in hot pursuit and hit the bird on the ground like a linebacker on Sunday. Ok this is more like it as I feel relieved and happy as Rufus finally has a bird in his mouth after a 3 week vacation. I snapped a few photos of his retrieve as he makes his way back to me with his trophy. As Rufus laid the at bird in my hand, a big smile came across my face as it was easy to see he was having as much fun as I was , probably more. Rufus begins to work again and pops up another hen on the wood /CRP edge. We just needed one more rooster to flush to finish our day. It did not take long and Rufus was on another bird. After a few circles he suddenly stops and stares into the grass in front of him as he has locked on another bird. I circle around to position myself for a good shot. I give Rufus the command as he swipes with his big paw at the grass in front of him and up pops another Rooster. This bird is flying towards the trees and I need to squeeze a shot off quickly before he made it into the trees. I get a bead on this bird and squeeze off a shot as I watch the bird folds up and pile up into the tree branches as Rufus takes off after him down the hill. A few moments later and a call for Rufus, I see him trotting back with his head held high with our final bird of the day in his mouth.
Just as quick as the day started, it had ended as Rufus scored us another MN limit from the Honey Hole. In just a about an hour we were done giving me plenty of time to get a few photos snapped and get ready to get in the tree. We saw a good number of birds but again that number could be misleading due to the conditions I described earlier. The weather was just about perfect. It was a lil foggy, cold enough to keep you cool, and the wind was steady but not too bad. Overall it seems the birds were holding well, not running too much and flushing at a good distance. I love hunting with other people but once in a while it is just a special treat to be able to go out and hunt with just Rufus and I. I think I’m able to relax, enjoy, sit back and watch him “do his thing” better. As each hunt passes or ends with the ol boy (11 years old), it gets more and more emotional for me as I know it could be our last. He is still in great shape and health wise but at that age it can happen at any time. I hope we can share many more hunts and fun times together but it sure makes me appreciate the ones we have now. Man I’m not sure what I’m ever going to do without that boy by my side. Thanks for another memorable hunt buddy!
Until my next hunt Lip is out!
**CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE**