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Favored terrain to chase birds

  • Prairie/Grasslands

    Votes: 19 44.2%
  • High elevation shrublands

    Votes: 1 2.3%
  • Desert

    Votes: 5 11.6%
  • High elevation forest

    Votes: 1 2.3%
  • Lowland forest

    Votes: 4 9.3%
  • Ag/CRP

    Votes: 9 20.9%
  • Wetlands/bogs

    Votes: 1 2.3%
  • Sagebrush-steppe

    Votes: 2 4.7%
  • Tundra

    Votes: 1 2.3%
1 - 1 of 48 Posts

· Registered
Fabarms L4s Initial Hunter Compact
1,190 Posts
My favorite terrain is whatever it happens to be when the dog and I are working as a team, I feel like it was my knowlege of the land, weather, and birds produced a plan, and when my shooting didn't let the team down. This year...

Early in the season we had a week of very high winds and nasty cold rain. Blech! High winds (Steadily over 15mph) are one bit of weather I won't hunt upland birds. But then I looked at the weather report and saw the rain was going to stop, winds abate, sun peek out.

"Aha! I think the pheasants are going to retreat from the corn field and marsh, into the thick tangles of the woods and hunker down against the rain and wind. I bet they are going to try to warm themselves on a south facing slope at the forest edge, looking over the marsh, that one that borders the unharvested corn field."

The dog and I enjoyed walking the forest path, then working the base of the south facing hill and were rewarded as the dog, deep in the thick, flushed 2 cocks. Perfect, except I missed. Still, I felt good that there were birds where I thought and we worked the plan. That day, forest edge was our favorite.

On the last day of the season, the unusually warm weather had snapped cold. "Aha!" I thought. "If ever there was a time to go back deep in the marsh where no sane man would go, this is it! I know the route! It's just that this usually means being nearly up to my knees in water and 8 foot tall marsh grass, but recent snow had knocked it down into hummocks just perfect for a pheasant to hide in. So off we went, working hard to stay on top of the thin ice. Like a sidewalk when it was good, up to your ankles (if you step lively... otherwise deeper) if the ice broke. But sure enough, the dog gets all birdy at the edge of the creek and... Boom! Boom! I thought I missed as I had to snap shoot a 40 yard shot as the bird flew through an opening. "Oh well, let's see if we can chase him down." We begin our slow pursuit and.. the dog comes trotting back with a very long tailed huge marsh pheasant, solid hit, dead as can be, in his mouth. That day, frozen marsh was our favorite.

Going out in 8 inches of new snow, with snow falling hard and the dog's nose knowing exactly the hummock the pheasant was under, and I didn't miss? I guess that's tundra, right? That was a good day. My contribution was not being put off by snow, I guess. But it felt good, deep down, like it wasn't just dumb luck. Is that 'tundra'? or just snow covered?

My dog is a Labrador. He's a high energy, bird crazy, flushing retriever. We don't do that well in big open grassland, he doesn't get enough practice with that and tends to work to far out and calling him back constantly is irritating. We work edges. If I had a different dog, I can see how the open grass would be very enjoyable. Except.. my dog dearly loves several swims in a river or creek when he gets hot and a drink whenever he wants, which is very often. Hunting the higher lands, I have to carry two water bottles for him. Desert???? Not good for Labradors! But if it was nearby, I bet it's great and desert hunters might not enjoy all the different kinds of mud I could put them in up to their knees.

Is it EVER 'fun" to go into the marsh and struggle with mud sucking at your wellingtons, meeting younger men wearing hip waders and panting together for a chat? It's not fun, but it's rewarding. You might be but a mile from a road, but you're in a wilderness few others ever see. Simply blundering around is not an option, and yeah... there are birds in there! Deep in the wet marsh? Yep. I hate to say it but we've come home soaked and muddy and feeling really good about the day's work.

The best terrain for walking? Well, it's an old untraveled tractor path taking you wherever you want to go with your best friends (human or canine) and a plan that maybe brings home a bird or two so the dog can show my wife that the day has been productive. Ag land or open prairie can be a favorite.

I am determined to drive the outrageous distance of maybe 6 hours north and spend a week grouse hunting for my first time next fall. On previous vacations, we've seen so many of them, just hiking old logging trails. As a noobie to grouse, I expect we are just happy to put a few in the back of the jacket... but that's not as much fun as knowing the land well and the birds, and really feeling competent. But ya gotta start somewhere!
1 - 1 of 48 Posts