We awoke early Tuesday morning, checked out of the Hampton Inn in Mitchell and drove to some public grounds near the Wagon Wheel Ranch where we’ll be checking in and hunting Wednesday through Friday (actually the Bird Dog Lounge). We had a good day of hunting...about 3 and ½ hours and Luna loved every stinking minute. Unfortunately, as there was only three of us, a lot of birds got away from us on early flushes and despite a couple of long shots, we only bagged one cock rooster thanks to the good shooting of Richard Miller. We then headed to the ranch with a quick stop at the liquor store for provisions, and enjoyed a wonderful welcome dinner with friends as everyone arrived at the camp.
Wednesday morning’s hunt was over-the-top, although I didn’t hunt Luna that am as she got abrasions under each front leg underarm from the vest she wore in the field Tuesday (meant to protect her teats and underbelly). We limited out at 37 birds (we were able to shoot the daily bag for the three of our party who made deposits but were no-shows), so we were officially “done” by lunch time. I got one bird clean and shared a couple of other birds with the Riddle gang.
After lunch, all of us other than Buck Riddle headed out to public lands and my well rested bitch was itching to get into the field. With eight of us we were able to have two blockers at the end of each field, a couple of flankers and four drivers (walkers). David Dempsey had a great shot on a big rooster but it fell into some Russian Olives (I walked this patch the day prior and I can tell you they are mean, mean, mean with ¾ inch to 1 ½ inch thorns that do a hell of a job on one attempting to walk through them). Fortunately, Luna’s small enough that she was able to get in and retrieve the downed bird, her first official pheasant retrieve! We bagged a couple of cock roosters on that afternoon hunt before heading back to Wagon Wheel Ranch, where our host Maureen Geveshausen (Curt’s much better half) had prepared an outstanding prime rib dinner.Thursday morning greeted us with 30 degree temps and a slight, falling snow. Luna had her first “snow” experience Tuesday afternoon, but hadn’t given it much consideration other than learning to eat it for moisture when thirsty. This morning was another story…she seemed puzzled by all this cold, wet white stuff on the ground and between it and the temp, was “amped up” more than her usual high voltage self. She was pleased with her breakfast (some fatty prime rib scraps thrown into her Wellness grain free lamb and Instinct kibble) and even more pleased that she was going to hunt with the ranch dogs. She loved riding in the bus that we all take to the various fields (we hunted fields of corn, millet, sorghum and milo) and she was getting and giving some dog sugar love to everyone, as evidenced by the photo of her planting a big wet one on Brandon Combs. Uncle David made her butt wiggle and got her to talk with some nice tail base deep tissue massage. We limited out (again) with 36 birds before lunch and Luna had a much better hunt than her master, with multiple flushes and a half dozen retrieves (I shot some but hit nothing). The ranch owner’s Curt is calling her “dear Luna” because he thinks she runs like a deer…she ran hard and fast 100+ yards on a downed but not dead rooster taken on a long second shot by Scott Riddle was a sight to behold!
We came back to some very delicious pheasant chili Maureen had prepared for us. I decided to stay back at camp with David and Buck to blog while the rest of our party headed to shoot some public lands. I figured both me and my pup could use some rest (I’ve walked and she’s run many, many miles) for tomorrow’s final hunt.
From South Dakota, where the land rolls and the wind blows…
Sal & Egri Luna Bella of Edisonia!