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New disease from eating Pork- You better watch out!

It’s been years since the mad cow scare but we may have something even bigger to worry about, Evidently pork isn’t as safe to eat as we think. In past years parasites such as Trichina and Pork tapeworm were of some concern but most of those problems have been eliminated at least in the United States.  A new protein had been found that acts similar to mad cow disease. It seems to be a problem in humans who have consumed pork for 10 or more years. Symptoms similar to Alzheimers and several other neurological diseases appear in those who are affected. Pork is quite prominent in Asia whereas it is rarely consumed in the Mideast. Researchers noticed the difference in the incidents of these neurological diseases when comparing the two populations. One of the symptoms is a sudden increase in temper in an infected individual. This is how the syndrome got the acronym POPS ( short for pissed of pig syndrome)  There is no cure for POPS so scientists recommend eating more chicken.

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Pheasant hunters – Flush dog or Pointer?

 

Brittany vs Springer

I’ve owned 6 Springers. Five hunted, three were excellent hunters, and one wouldn’t hunt at all. The dog I have now is a Brittany. H’es the one pictured on the left. I though he was a Springer when I bought him off of Craiglist. You can see by his color why he might have fooled me. When I hunted him I realized I had a different breed.

He ranged much farther out than any of my Springer”s and he pointed. It was a little unnerving to have him go out so far. Most Springer’s which are flush dogs tend to range pretty tight and seldom go beyond 30 yards. Tbone felt more comfortable ranging out 50-60 yards.

I am a bit prejudiced, but I believe the Springer Spaniel is the best choice for pheasant hunting. You will get more flushes from them because they put the pressure on the bird. Seldom do they point. They just put the pressure on and up the bird goes. My main complaint with pointers is they go on point and the pheasant runs off while their still pointing.

Granted unless you know your Springer well, you will get many more surprise fushes and you might miss a few more birds because of it.

I’ve had Tbone for 4 hunting seasons now so I am getting used to his style. He is an air scenter, sticking his nose up in the air and deciding where to go next. After he decides he bounds off full steam and starts ground scenting. He covers lots of territory in a very short period of time. That’s why I whistle trained him. He also sports an electronic collar if I can’t get his attention with a whistle.

My Springers on the hand stayed close enough to me I never used electronic collars with any of them. My Springers were ground scenters the majority of the time and would work the birds hard.

When Tbone gets a good scent his behavior changes. He moves quickly back and forth and if he stops, the scent is very near. If he stiffens up and drops his head a bit he is on point. I move in closer and if I’m lucky the bird sat tight and I’m going to get a very good shot. You have more warning when hunting over a pointer and you will get some really easy shots, but pheasants are tricky and they can still catch you by surprise when they flush. If a bird flushes right under you you have a maximum time of 3 seconds to shoot.

Springers will often flush birds so they fly left to right or right to left. I prefer those shots since more of the pheasant is a target exposing its head, body, and wings. Shots straight away are the hardest for me because if you shoot to early the bird will rise above the shot pattern.

For years I’ve taken my dogs out and tried to photograph them hunting. With Springer’s it is difficult because you never know which way the flush is coming from Pointers like Tbone will give you a chance to approach a bird and get fairly close flush photos. This especially important if you are using a gopro or wider angle lenses because the birds will appear fairly small in the video. Below is an example of a video done with Tbone

If I were to score my flushers versus my pointer I would have to say it is a matter of preference. I can enjoy hunting with both breeds. Anytime you can hunt with a trained dog you will have a good hunt.

53 years of hunting memories

WInter birds

My first pheasant hunt was in 1963. I was 15 years old and so excited that I couldn’t sleep the night before. I shot my first bird near Gibbon, Minnesota in Moltke township. My uncle Ed had a few good areas to hunt and my dad went with me. It is the only time he ever hunted with me and it was a memory I will always cherish. I can still remember the field that this first bird flushed from, I was sporting a borrowed 12 gauge single shot. The bird flushed into a stiff wind and my dad hollered shoot. I raised my gun aimed, pulled the trigger and by golly the bird dropped. I ran over to pick up the bird. Earlier that year I had hunted on my uncle Eldon’s farm with a borrowed 410 shotgun. I was walking a fence line when 3 roosters erupted. I shot and felt a powder charge hit my right eye. The firing pin had blown out the gun. I could hardly see out of the eye for several days. Fortunately no permanent damage occurred.

The following year I started hunting with two high school friends. None of us had a car so we would talk my mother into driving us out into the country and we would hunt all day and walk back into town. We had a great time but didn’t get a lot of birds. One time we were bored so we would throw one of our caps in the air and shoot at it.  A Weimaraner showed up and started hunting with us. All of a sudden our hunting improved. The dog followed us home. My dad new the farmer that owned the dog so he drove to the farm and returned the dog. We asked if the dog could hunt with us again. The farmer agreed. Our hunting year improved a lot. None of us were very good shots. I had purchased a single shot 16 gauge and my friends sported a 12 gauge single shot and the other a 12 gauge pump. The guy with the pump shot no more birds than the rest of us. He just used up more shells.

I purchased a Westernfield 12 gauge pump the fall of my junior year. I still use that gun today. It has been repaired a number of times. I estimate I shot 800 pheasants with it. I have no photographs of my early hunting years with the exception of one 8mm reel of film I took in 1965. I had a hunting dog of my own at the time it was a German short hair, named Penny. She had a good nose but wasn’t the smartest dog I ever owned.

Penny, my first hunting dog

I hunted in Southern Minnesota through the early 70’s. Habitat was being removed at a rapid pace by 1970. Many farms had sloughs on them. In the early 60’s the government subsidized the drainage of sloughs while at the same time paying the same farmer to  idle acres under the soil bank program. By the mid 1970’s most sloughs were gone. Flooding along rivers is more prevalent without the water capturing sloughs. Modern agriculture has literally destroyed wildlife populations in many parts of the mid west.

I graduated with Biology teaching degree. I accepted a teaching job in Leigh, NE. The abundant pheasant population was the main reason I took the job there. I could hear pheasants crowing all the way around the town when I walked up to school. Year one I hunted with other faculty members without a dog. On opening day the superintendent brought his black lab along. The dog got on a hot scent in the first field and took off. He spent most of the morning trying to track down his dog. I remember a lot of pheasants. Some of the hunters were complaining there just weren’t as many birds as last year.

My first Springer-Archie

The above picture is obviously a fake. It was taken on a farm where I took many pheasants. The owner of the property only farmed 160 acres and not very well, but the place was loaded with pheasants. His son a student of mine took the photo.  Hunting in the Leigh area was fabulous. I only  lived there for 3 years but it was some of the best hunting of my life. Since I was a teacher I had a lot of students whose parents farmed. It was easy to get access to private land. 

I got 35 pheasants one year. My Springer, Archie was the main reason. He was an aggressive hard hunting dog that never gave up. He was one of the few Springers  that I had that consistently retrieved birds.

The best hunting day I ever had came in 1974. I had moved to Fremont but still had lots of access to private land back in Leigh. I went with a party of four on opening weekend. I ended up shooting 9 birds that day. The main reason I did so well was my dog worked close with me.

Archie was my best hunting dog. He hunted until he was 13 and even then he often rooted up birds his younger son’s missed.

All three dogs hunted but Archie was the  main hunter. He hit the heaviest brush and was very persistent. Augie the black and white standing in the photo was lazy. He probably had a better nose than Archie but he didn’t like going into heavy cover. He was a good retriever however, probably because he was always out in the open and could see where the birds dropped.

By the early 80’s habitat was being removed a lot in the Leigh area and my access to landowners decreased. Some lost there farms during the rough Carter years. I did some hunting around Fremont and got permission from  a farmer in Herman to hunt. I got a few birds here or there but hunting was getting a lot tougher. 

By 1985 I was relying on an organization that identified farmers that would allow hunters ( yes, there were actually farmers that would let you hunt on their land) As a member you had access to their list and you could call a farmer and get permission to hunt. I found one farm around Wahoo that was quite productive. I hunted there 2 years and did quite well, but he lost his farm and the new owner removed all the cover.

Guido was my hunting dog at the time and he did quite well hunting the basins.

I kept looking for new places to hunt and found a great spot in the Clay Center area. I’d never hunted there and when I arrived at one of the sloughs I was surprised when I saw a bunch of pheasants flying across the road into the slough. Unfortunately there was a big sign saying steel shot only.  I didn’t have any steel shot. I had to go back to town and buy steel shot shells. Well I did that and returned that morning, I probably flushed over 100 birds. They were wild but I got my limit. I returned to that area for several more years but it was 150 miles away and I was looking for something closer.

The CRP program was instituted in 1985 and improved in 1990. Habitat improved. Hunting got better. My access to public land had disappeared, however. I found out that the Indian reservations on the east part of the state had pheasant hunting with a special reservation license. The Winnebago reservation had some good hunting. Thurston county had always been a good county for the birds. I hunted the reservation a number of years. It extended my hunting season by 2 weeks since their season started two weeks earlier than the states.

I’ve had a number of memorable hunting days but the one that stands out more than any is the hunt I had one December day.

That morning I decided to hunt a creek that lead to a patch of CRP. I barely reached the creek and a rooster flushed. I dropped him and crossed the creek to retrieved the bird. My dog Gudio was really working the brush of the small creek. Soon another ringneck flushed. I shot and missed. I walked another 100 yards or so and Guido flushed another bird and then a few seconds later another bird. He flushed some more singles and I dropped 2 more. By the time I was done He had flushed 10 single roosters and I had shot up a half a box of shells but I got my limit. To this day I have never had that many individual flushes in that short period of time.

The last year I hunted the Reservation was 2004. Habitat on the reservation was disappearing and pressure on the little habitat that was left was increasing. It wasn’t worth hunting there anymore.

Photo taken Winnebago Reservation

I always wanted to hunt South Dakota so I finally made my move. There was an add in the newspaper for pheasant hunting in Burke, South Dakota. I responded and set up a 3 day hunt.

I had Gudio and Cosmo as my hunting companions and they had a ball. The landowner would drive us around to various spots and we would proceed to hunt. Hunting was good and I normally limited out in several hours or less. The property also had some quail as well as grouse and Hungarian partridge. In all my years of hunting I only shot 2 partridge and I only recovered one of them.

I was down to one dog by 2006 but Cosmo was in his peak years and hunting was good in South Dakota. After 3 or 4 years I decided to try another South Dakota ranch. I found it in the magazine that South Dakota Game division mailed out. I was blown away when he drove me around his property showing me the  borders. Pheasants were flying up everywhere. At that time he had 3000 acres and they were loaded with birds. He let you hunt on your own and told you to be careful to stay on his property.

I’ve hunted the Dakotas for roughly 15 years. The hunting has been fabulous with the exception of 2012 a bad drought year. 

I’ve taken several friends hunting in South Dakota. Hunting costs are high. Trespass fees are $150 a day. Motels run roughly $100 day and the license is $120 for 10 days. I hunt South Dakota two different 4 day periods. To keep costs down I hunt public land on the first day. It has been difficult hunting public land although I did limit out one time on it.

Nebraska hunting is getting more difficult every year. This last year most of the birds I shot were released by Game and Parks on some of their properties. 

Since I’m getting older driving long distances to hunt and return the same day is just too tiring. I try to stay within 90 miles and often hunt for only 2 hours and return home. If there are birds around my Brittany, Tbone will find them. My best hunt and a memorable one was in the Tekamah area this year. It was on private property and I limited out in 20 minutes after flushing 7 roosters. I hunt this property once a year and pay to access it. The birds are all wild, no released  ones.

Hunting pheasants and photography are my two passions. I only regret that I don’t have many photos from the earlier years of hunting. I had a cheap kodak camera when i was in high school and it never dawned on me to take any photos when hunting. Today I always have at least one camera in my vehicle at all times. I have the phone of course but really prefer a camera.

I know my hunting days are limited. At least I will have the photos of those lovely days in the field.

50 years can go by pretty fast- Class Reunion Highlites

Our senior class was small it only had around 40 graduates. We lost some classmates from previous years for various reasons such as poor grades, behavior problems, etc. 22 graduates attended our 50th reunion held in New Ulm, Minnesota. We toured our old high school campus which no longer serves the high school. It is MLC a Lutheran College now. When we attended there was both a college and high school. The high school was moved to Wisconsin,

We had a get together at the Country Club on Friday, took a tour of the Campus on Saturday and finished of with a meal at the Kaiserhoff, Saturday evening.

Note: If you click on the images they will enlarge.

DMLHS Class of 66 reunion

DMLHS Class of 66
reunion

Several people attended Friday evening that could not make it for the Saturday events so I did a little photoshop work to include all the attendees in the same group photo.

My cousin Doug Enter and I were in the same class. I did not see him for almost 30 years and did not recognize him.

 

Doug Enter-Steve Bode DMLHS 66 50th Reunion

Doug Enter-Steve Bode
DMLHS 66 50th Reunion

I grabbed a few candid shots.

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If any of the attendees had difficulty accessing the photos I put on “Box” this is another way to see them.

 

Dogs of Wehrspann Part 2

I’m aware of 4 dog runs in the Omaha area. That’s nearly not enough considering how many dogs are in the city. I frequent the dog run at Lake Wehrspann. It is the biggest and the most diverse. Papillion has a dog run at Walnut creek but it is adjacent to an over sized mud hole which get extremely stinky in hot weather. Dogs need to run in order to get the proper amount of exercise. A walk on  a leash just doesn’t cut it.

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Some of the dogs are young and can’t be trusted so they end up at leashes at the dog run.

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The dog above is 13 but he doesn’t look it.

IMG_2472 IMG_2480Black is the favorite dog color. Many of the black dogs are labs or lab mixes. The lab is the most popular dog in the country.

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There’s an eagle nested next to the dog run. Small dogs need to stay close to their owners.

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This is a neat looking Beagle. He looks so proud!

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Gee, its a lot of fun to run!

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This is the largest dog at the park. He’s a Newfoundland mix and weighs well over 100 ibs. He had a brother that passed away several months ago.

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This is a white German Shepherd pup. Many people don’t realize that German Shepherd’s can be white.

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Vizla’s are a friendly hunting breed that are becoming more popular.

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This Springer’s name is Brodie. He looks a lot like my Springer, Cosmo.

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The little guys enjoy running to.

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The two pictures above are of Brittany’s. Most Brittany’s are the white and tan color. My Brittany, Tbone is much darker and many people mistake him for a Springer.

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Reggie is a Springer.

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Another white German Shepherd.

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An unusual colored Cocker Spaniel.

Hundreds of dogs enjoy running at the various dog parks. It’s a joy to watch these dogs have a good time. All photos were taken with a canon SL-1 the smallest DSLR and a Tamron 18-270 lens.

The best way to capture video of a pheasant hunt

The video below was taken in South Dakota November 2015. For many years I wanted to capture video of one of my pheasant hunts. I hunt alone or with one other person and it was hard to find a cameraman. I tried using the first go pro hero that came out but the camera was heavy enough on my head mount that it threw off my timing and I had trouble hitting birds. The the Hero IV session came out. It was much smaller and light enough that it did not affect my shooting. The video below was taken with the session. I didn’t do anything fancy with it and the video is primarily for my personal use. That’s why I left the original audio.

The Hero session works with the same headband as the other go pros which was nice.

go pro session along side an iphone to compare size

go pro session along side an iphone to compare size

go pro session

go pro session

You get an idea how small this camera is when compared to the size of an iphone 5. Video from this camera is acceptable from my standpoint but color wasn’t the greatest if the camera is pointed into the sun. The camera did do a good job adjusting brightness. The little red circle on top of the camera is the start button. You press the button for a second or less and a light starts blinking indicating the camera is capturing video. If you press the button for about 3 seconds it captures stills in time lapse. It is hard to turn on the camera and know if it’s working if you have the band on your head. Several times I thought I was capturing video and I was capturing time lapse which was a big disappointment when I loaded the card into my computer. It uses a micro sd card. It also has wifi capability when used with a go pro app. Battery life on this camera was about an hour for me. If used in wifi mode it uses more battery. Unfortunately when you’re hunting you never know when you will run into the birds. It could be in the first few minutes or an hour later. You’ll have to do a lot of editing to get a couple of minutes of action. I did my video in South Dakota because bird numbers are significantly higher than in Nebraska. I had my limit in 45 minutes during this video.

Ideally a second cameraman will give you a much better idea what the pheasant hunt is like. A friend of mine did some video with a Canon T3I while I used the session. The birds in the video below were released and a little easier to get close to.

 

I love to hunt the ringneck Pheasant

pheasant hunt Nebraska

pheasant hunt Nebraska

The surprise of a flushing rooster is one of the reasons I prefer pheasant hunting. Waterfowl hunters call in their prey (not much of a surprise factor in that although it takes real skill). Deer hunters sit in a tree stand and wait for their game to appear. ( This requires some skill but there’s no big surprise) . I’ve missed many a pheasant that flushed right from under me. Nothing is more pleasurable than watching your dogs hunt. I’ve hunted in 6 decades and have an enjoyed every hunt. I shot my first bird in Gibbon Minnesota on my uncles farm. My dad was with me. He seldom found time to hunt and that day in November is probably the last time he went hunting. It’s a memory that I cherish. I only wish I had photographs of it. He was just too busy trying to support a family with 5 children.

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Pheasant hunting can be a real challenge unless you have a dog. My dad picked up a 6 month old female German Shorthair which my high school buddies and I found very helpful in finding the birds. I named her Penny and she had pretty good instincts as far as pointing birds. She was dumb as a box of rocks when it came to retrieving though.

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Archie- my first Springer Spaniel

Archie- my first Springer Spaniel

When I moved to Leigh, Nebraska in the early 70’s I had t get serious about getting my own hunting dog. The first year I lived there I hunted without a dog and bird numbers were pretty good so I got some shooting in. In February of 1971 I saw an add for Springer puppies in the Columbus paper. I’d read that Springer’s were an excellent choice for pheasant hunting. When I arrived to select a pup I was lucky because all the pups were still there and I had first choice. I picked the most aggressive one I could find and home he went with me. We called him Archie (after Archie Bunker) He would prove to be one of the best hunting dogs I ever had. I lived in Leigh for 3 years and the hunting was good and access was also very good. Having been a teacher at the time I knew a lot of farmers since their children attended school. Those first 3 years in Nebraska were my best hunting days in the state.

Archie, Augie and Harry

Archie, Augie and Harry

I ended up moving to Fremont Nebraska an area that had much lower pheasant populations. I bought a female Springer and named her Ginger. She never hunted but we had pups form Archie and Ginger. I kept two of them,  Augie and Harry. Harry had a harelip and we had to feed him by hand as a pup. He had several surgeries on his mouth and turned out to be a really nice dog with lots of personality.

Augie a Springer Spaniel

Augie , Archies son

Augie was really attached to me and had probably the best nose of any of my Springers. I used to hunt all 3 dogs at once. Archie did all the hard work. Augie was kind of lazy and would hunt in easy areas staying relatively close to me. Harry was not the best hunter and seemed to run out of energy fairly quickly. (later on I found that he had diabetes) By the late 80’s I had to spent some serious time to find new hunting areas. My contacts in Leigh were drying up primarily due to a poor farm economy, they were going broke and quit farming.

I started looking west and began hunting the federal wetlands near Clay Center Nebraska. My first hunt near Clay Center was one I’ll never forget. I flushed well over a hundred pheasants one November morning. The bird were wild but I limited out before noon. Archie was getting older and I had to rely on Augie to fill in for him. Hunting got tougher because Augie wasn’t as good. Archie passed away in 1986 and I had to rely on Augie. Augie was about 10 years old so he was also began to slow down.

Gudo

Gudio

Guido and me

Guido and me

I was photographing a client in my studio in 1992 and I mentioned my hunting dog was starting to slow down due to age. He mentioned that he knew someone in Columbus that had a litter of Springer’s that he was going to give away. I called the guy, drove to Columbus and picked out Guido. Guido was a great hunter. He was very similar to Archie except he didn’t retrieve birds.

Guido hunted for 13 years. I shifted north during his tenure. The Winnebago Indian Reservation had fairly good numbers in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. However hunting access in Nebraska itself became more and more difficult. It is during this time I decided to hunt South Dakota and I’m happy I did. My first experience was a place called “Dakota Birds” near Gregory South Dakota. The company was run by two brothers. It cost $200 per day including a place to stay. The farmhouse I stayed in was near their farm. It was comfortable and a great place since dogs could come inside and my dogs were house dogs so they needed to be inside. I enjoyed hunting there. They would drive you around to different spots and let you walk and pick you up at the end of the field. In most cases I limited out in 2 hours or less.

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By 2002 Guido was 10 and he was beginning to slow down. He was a little grumpy in his old age but he still enjoyed the hunt.

cosmo at age 1

cosmo at age 1

Guido and Cosmo Gregory South Dakota

Guido and Cosmo Gregory South Dakota

My last springer is Cosmo. I also acquired Cosmo through a photo client. A couple brought in their 9 month baby with 3 Springers for a photo. The pups were up for sale so I made a deal, $300 worth of photos for one of the pups. I named him Cosmo. He was the most playful Springer I ever owned. I spent countless hours playing tug of war with him as a puppy. Later he became a frisbee fanatic and even at age 13 he still carries a frisbee with him as he goes for his walks. Cosmo was a great hunter.

Cosmo and Me

South Dakota Pheasnt

South Dakota Pheasnt

Cosmo and Me

Cosmo and Me

We still continued to hunt Nebraska in the 2000’s but South Dakota was the place to go. The image above was taken on Thanksgiving Day 2006. CRP was still pretty strong in the mid 2000’s and there were public areas to hunt some pheasants. Unfortunately most of those fields have been plowed and returned to corn. Ethanol subsidies have done a lot to destroy habitat. My South Dakota location shifted farther west to a small town of Kennebec. The first year I hunted there the rancher drove me around on his 3000 acre ranch. Pheasants were everywhere. I got so excited. He let you hunt on your own which is always my preference. There is something about hunting alone with your dog that can’t be matched. Bird hunting was fabulous on his property. It was rare to not get your limit in 2 hours. The years went by quickly and soon Cosmo hit age 11 and he was slowing down. It was time for a new hunting dog. I contacted Springer Rescue and filled out all their applications including a home interview. I passed and when it was time to adopt there were no Springer’s available locally. On a lark I got on craiglist andcheck dogs for sale. Unbelievably there was a Springer listed south of Sioux City about 30 miles. I rushed up there and met Tbone. He was skinny, obviously not well fed. The seller wanted $75 but soon dropped to $35 when I said I’d probably have vet bills with him. I took him home and he bonded almost immediately. The vet said there was nothing wrong with him. I fed him well and he went for 34 lbs to 42 lbs within 3 months

Tbone a Brittany

Tbone a Brittany

Tbone a Brittany

Tbone a Brittany

I though Tbone was a Springer. He looked a lot like Cosmo when he was young. After hunting Tbone I knew he wasn’t a Springer. He pointed on birds and ranged much more then a Springer. I hunted with Cosmo and Tbone through 2014. In fact Cosmo hunted alone with me the last hunt in South Dakota and we limited out in under an hour. Tbone was benched because of an injury.20140720_144719000_iOS 20140622_152854000_iOS

I relied on Tbone as the primary hunter in 2015. He did a great job and we ended the year with 31 pheasants 6 quail and 2 grouse.

I’ve pheasant hunted for 52 years. During that time I’ve had 7 hunting dogs. I miss the one’s that are gone. I enjoyed so many happy hunting hours with them. I’m so happy that I have photos of them. If you are a hunter print some of your hunting photos don’t let them disappear into the digital ether.

I’m 67 now and age is catching up with me. I can’t hunt without aches and pains and after a hunting day. It takes me several days to recover but I still love it and I still love watching my dogs hunt.

Ringneck Pheasant – My Passion

 

Pheasant - Photo taken near Boyer's Chute

Pheasant – Photo taken near Boyer’s Chute

In my opinion the ringneck pheasant is one of the most beautiful birds in North American. I’ve always been fascinated by this species. They can be tricky to photograph since photographing them from a blind is usually not an option. The bird in the photo above was photographed from a car with a 100-400mm lens and a canon 50d. The birds paid little attention to you as long as you stayed in the car. You can estimate the age of a pheasant based on their spur length. I estimate this bird to be 1 1/2 years old.

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Pheasant photos taken after heavy snow

Pheasant photos taken after heavy snow

The best time to see pheasants in the open is after a snow storm when they need to forage for food. These photos were taken in February near Boyers Chute which is north of the Mormon Bridge in Omaha. This area is closed to pheasant hunting and there is lots of grass habitat for the birds.

In order tostay warm pheasant will fluff out their feathers

In order to stay warm pheasant will fluff out their feathers

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The pheasant is a hardy bird and can handle cold weather pretty well. Spring snowstorms with heavy wet snow and strong winds can be deadly to pheasants since this kind of weather often plugs their nostrils with snow and ice and they suffocate. They cannot breathe through their mouths.

Pheasant photos taken after heavy snow

Pheasant photos taken after heavy snow

Pheasants rarely die of starvation unless they lack adequate winter cover adjacent to feeding areas. This pheasant is scratching around in the snow looking for corn.

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The ringneck originates from between the Black and Caspian Seas to Manchuria, Siberia, Korea, Mainland China and Taiwan. This photo is taken in South Dakota, the pheasant capital of North America. Grassland habitat adjacent to sloughs and cornfields along with shelter belts are ideal habitat for the birds. Intense farming is removing much of this habitat and pheasant populations have fallen significantly in many states. Pheasants Forever  is an organization that works together with State game and park agencies and private landowners to improve habitat conditions. The organization also lobbies state and federal governments for habitat improvement. Destruction of habitat that affects pheasants has also decimated song birds and even honey bee.

flying pheasant in South Dakota

flying pheasant in South Dakota

Photographing pheasants can be quite a challenge. Pheasants are flighty and seldom stay still long. You need a long lens. I prefer a 100-400 zoom with a camera that has an APS size sensor such as the 50, 60 or 70d. The newer cameras have better auto focus which is very important especially when photographing flying pheasants. Many of the pictures I have were taken in South Dakota where bird abundance is enough to assure you a chance for some photographs,

South Dakota’s hunting day starts at 10:00 AM after the first two weeks. This gives a hunter the chance to drive around early morning and take pictures. Birds are most active the first hour of daylight and the last several hours. Camera sensors that can offer higher ISO’s are important if you which to work at this time of the day. To stop blur on flying birds shutter speeds of 1/1000 or even higher may be necessary.

When I have a chance I like to take my dogs out and let them chase up some birds. I often carry a camera instead of a gun. Video of pheasants is tricky because they can be unpredictable when they flush. Here is a video I did in October

 

Dedication to a longtime friend


I am dedicating this post to a longtime friend of 48 years who passed away Feb 1, 2016.

Long time friend

Long time friend

I first met my friend Sonny when he was 19. He is 62 in the left side of the picture and around 23 on the right one. Sonny lived several states away . In the last several years his health was not good and I would call him 4 or 5 times a week.

In late October of 2015 I was driving to a hunting spot and I called him on my cell phone. I asked him how things were going and he said last night was terrible. He said his chest hurt and jaw hurt and he broke out into a sweat. I told him he had a heart attack and that he needed to see a doctor. It was Saturday and he said he would check with one on Monday. I couldn’t get him to change his mind.

Later that evening around 7:00 PM I called him back and asked how he was doing. His response was curt, “I’m not feeling good I’m going to bed” and then he hung up. I hesitated for about 30 seconds and called the Brown County Sheriff and told them to go out to his place (he lived out in the country) because he needed help.

They went to his place and called an ambulance. He ended up getting life-flighted to a Minneapolis hospital. He was in the hospital for almost 3 weeks after they put in some stents.

He came home in November and I had one last chance to visit him the second week of November. He started to recover a little and I talked to him on the phone every day. By late January he was having trouble with shortness of breath. I called him the morning of Feb 1 but he didn’t want to stay on the phone very long saying he couldn’t catch his breath. I knew the end was near for him. The next morning I got a call from his son that he had passed away the evening before.

 

 

Photo taken with Rolliflex

Photo taken with Rolliflex

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Sonny was around 23 in the photos above.

I met Sonny in 1968 when I was a sophomore in college. He and I spent a lot of time driving around the summer of 1968. We took a trip up to Mil Lac’s lake and visited a friend of his who was working at a lodge on the lake. I remember his friend taking us out on the lake at night with a 16 foot fishing boat with 4 foot waves. It scared both of us.

We used to hang around the bowling alley a lot and one evening we saw two girls in front of the bowling alley and we asked them if they wanted to go for a ride. They accepted. Eventually I would marry one of them and Sonny married the other 7 years later. Both of us ended up getting divorced in the 80’s.

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Both of us liked to fish and Sonny caught a 40 lb carp one summer when fishing for walleye. He got pretty excited about his catch. We had to go to shore with our pontoon in order to land the fish.

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We used to fish on lake Stella and catch quite a few Northerns.

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Sonny had a band called the “All Beef” which was more of a fantasy than anything. He could play the drums. This the only photo of the two of us together. It seems I was always behind the camera and never got in the photos.

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Sonny visited my studio in 2009 and I got some photos of him them.

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Sonny marched to his own drummer. If I said something was black he’d argue it was white. He wasn’t very motivated and he didn’t accomplish much. We knew each other for 48 years and I considered him my closest friend.  He was a friend because I liked him.

During the last 10 years he suffered with a bad hip and had trouble walking. He put on a lot of weight and really couldn’t do much. I’m dedicating this page to him because he never had a funeral, not even an obituary.

…..and I miss him!