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Hi,

Got out for a few hours yesterday to hunt and run dogs with a couple of good friends. Would like to say it was a good day, but the birds, (pheasant), have been insanely jumpy the last couple of weeks. Only saw three and at 1/2 mile out front. Still the dogs had fun running the cattails and willows. Lots of tracks were seen too. Giving hope for even more birds next year. And anytime one can hunt with good friends is a good day, no matter the bag.

Over all the season was good. There were grouse to be had up in the northern woods and enough wood ducks to make me happy. Pheasants were tough this year. With many hens seen and flushed, but roosters far and few between.

My two young Springer boys have really shown their skills this year. With the B&W Oliver going from being nearly given away as a pet to an impressive grouse dog. A lesson in having patience. His L&W littermate, Tater, has turned into a hard and big running dog. Crashing whatever cover gets in his way. He likes it the thicker the better and preferably wet. A handful to work, but we are slowly reaching an agreement. There may be a Cocker pup in my future..........

In a sad first, I had a stock crack on me. My little CZ 28ga Ringneck cracked half way through the wrist at the end of a hunt. No falls or hits on it, just cracked out of the blue. I had many tears in my eyes when I saw that. Fortunately, my local 'smith was able to do a very good repair that is virtually invisible. And turning it around in a mere week. Some how I managed to suffer through with my Dickinson 20ga SxS.

Overall, I have had seasons were I have shot more birds and was able to spend more time afield. But the memories of 2016 will shine as bright as any. Thanks to good friends, fine dogs, and excellent shotguns.

Looking forward to the upcoming season,
Dalee
 

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Never did make it South to hunt pheasant. Grouse were there but spotty. Ducks went through and were scarce until deer season. Thought I might head for pheasant after deer season but the weather got a bit iffy. Main problem is that I getting a bit old to walk the field like I used to. Deer season was weird. I had a doe permit for a zone I hunt, but on my inlaw's fields. I went there one day and forgot my ammo for the 243 and borrowed his 308 and shot a nice little buck. The hunting party of relations never saw a doe but shot 6 bucks. Filled out. Can't say it was a bad season, like you I have had better, but with a little persistence I did see game.

DEP
 

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Wonderful letter, Dalee. Enjoyed reading it and very sorry about your CZ, but glad it was repairable! :)

Here too in Iowa, We are approaching our last weekend of pheasant season. I have had more than my share of good fortune. Two years ago after my Mom died I bought a Citori 725 Field 12 Gauge in memory of her. That gun has proven to be the most consistent gun I have ever shot birds with.

The 2016 season for me was very special, as I shot a personal record 27 roosters. It was highlighted by a limit of 3 on my birthday, as well as my first limit of birds taken in 3 shots on December 10th. 95% of the time I either hunt with a friend, or I hunt alone. We do not own dogs. I did have one fun hunt with two buddies and their dogs.

In my area of the state we had good bird numbers, with a great carry over of roosters from last year. I only hunted private land and wild birds, and did not do any lease or preserve hunting. Hopefully our winter will continue to cooperate, giving the birds some open feeding ground and good cover. Also hope that spring is not too wet.
 

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As I mentioned, pheasants hunting was pretty good for me. Ruffed grouse were tougher than I expected but we did contact a fair number. We even picked up a few spruce grouse which are not always found in my normal areas.

Woodcock were plentiful initially but the migration was a bit odd in that they seemed to trickle through rather than have a large wave or two. It kept the numbers good throughout the season but not having dozens of contacts in a day was a disappointment.

Sharptails in MN were down but two of the areas I hunt were turned over and replanted last fall so it was not optimal yet. Nest spring will be the key to see if they return to the leks.

The highlights of the year were the dogs. It was my young setter's first real hunting season and he had his first points on wild birds. Woodcock did not interest him much, ruffed grouse are still a bit beyond his experience level, but he really turned on to pheasants by December.

My older setter had his usual steady hand but his main claim to fame was introducing several others to what a pointing dog does when I accepted an invitation to hunt with a different group in South Dakota. We had a December day in a grassy CRP field where he had a dozen points, 5 on roosters, of which all were bagged. The sight of the dog on point was amazing to them and the close, easy shots were icing on the cake.

The biggest highlight for me on that hunt was my wife's mutt. It is part pitbull and part something else but all intelligent. He had to come with as my wife was going out of town and couldn't find someone to take him at short notice. I took him in the field as a flusher when the cover was small. He stayed close and even flushed several birds- unfortunately all hens. He even pointed one at such close range that I thought the bird would peck him on the nose. I will have to work with him next summer as I think he could make a fair flusher but a so-so retriever as he is hard mouthed. He does mark extremely well and does not give up when searching for bumpers which is a benefit.

Can't wait for next fall, as usual.
 
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