Photo Album

I finally got around to porting Bryan's pics off of Shutterfly and onto Picasa. He took quite a few - the whole album from the trip is here.

We really were hunting in the snow most of the time, although it was cold enough that it was easy to stay dry. Another unanticipated benefit of my McAlister waxed cotton brush pants is their waterproofness - as great for the snow as well as South Carolina briar brambles. I may have to get a new pair that is the full monty, completely waxed cotton. Pretty snazzy, indeed.


Roasted Pheasant with Wild Rice

Put the first brace of South Dakota birds through the crucible also known as "Cooking With Steve."

The plan: Two birds, cleaned and stuffed with celery, onion, and carrots, wrapped in bacon and garnished with fresh-squeexed orange and rosemary.

Roast for 15 minutes at 500, remove bacon, and continue for 20-30 minutes or until juices run clear.

Remove from oven, split birds into equal halves (remove backbone if not already done) and serve over wild rice with a side of asparagus and a nice mellow cab.

Pretty good recipe - meat was tender and not dry or overdone. The gamey flavor of the pheasant was noticeable but still tasty, but the cab was a little much. Doc says: "it looks like chicken but tastes like pork - weird." I give it about a B- overall - it didn't come out quite as well as the quail from last winter.

Maybe next time I will call up the Undercurrent and see if they will cook it up for us, if we bring a large enough party along.


Sodak Recap

By any measure, the 2010 South Dakota Pheasant Hunt was a success. Good food and lodging, great camaraderie, plenty of birds and fantastic memories. I would highly recommend Marv Schlomer and Pheasant Cove Outfitters to anyone looking for that top-quality genuine South Dakota pheasant hunting experience.

Marv and Carol set us up for success starting the very first night, with the open bar, appetizers, steaks that were 2 inches thick, and a commemorative bottle of Gentleman Jack at each place setting. From there on, it wouldn't have mattered if we froze and went bust, we were having a good time.

Tommy after his "Rained-Out Baseball" hand
We started a little three day tradition of nightly poker, dealer's choice. That didn't mean much to anyone until Tommy pulled out a cocked-up version of the game called "Rained-out Baseball" that I haven't seen since summer camp in junior high. And who would you expect to win, but the big guy himself. After that, we stuck to tournament-style Hold 'Em, which despite the learning curve for the old fogies in our crowd that don't watch a lot of WSOP on ESPN2, resulted in a dominant win by Dad, with Tommy in second place. I think all the young guys just went all-in early so they could get back to the open bar.

Loaded up on Marv's Magic Bus
The first full day of hunting was just that - a full day. Shooting time is 10am, which left room for sleeping off the hangover and a leisurely gourmet breakfast by Carol of french toast, eggs over easy and some local sausage that was out of this world. We kitted up and piled in to Marv's Magic Bus - a converted "short bus" that he bought off the local school district, outfitted with gun racks, shell locker, dog boxes and a folding lunch table. This is really the key to a fun hunt - instead of hunkering down in the back of a snowy pickup, we were carted off in style with all of our shotguns suspended from the walls and the dogs howling to get up and go.

My second bird of the hunt, on a hilly
and rocky strip of natural grassland.
Birds were slow coming in that first day - two or three pheasants per field, lots of walking and blocking and realizing that when Marv tells the blockers to run to get into position, he doesn't mean you should just lollygag your way out there. At several fields, we would see 20-30 birds pour out of the field the minute the bus pulled up, leaving us to cul through the dumb birds that stayed behind. Particularly sneaky were the roosters, which had been heavily hunted for three months now, and knew exactly what we were up to. But hell, a full day hinting beats just about anything else, and we got more productive as the day progressed.

I ended up with 4 birds, more than my share of the group limit, and I know i missed at least three more that I should have had. The last field of the day, and hour-long effort over 20 acres of land, filled out the bag for the group. We got everyone into position the right way, moved the team through the field like we'd been hunting together forever, and walked back to the bus with Rooster # 36 and all his brethren in tow. The last shot I took, Chris and I lined up on the flush at the same time, and I beat him to the trigger by about a half-second, rewarded with a leg drop and feathers tumbling ot the ground. The only bummer was the 5MPH ride back to the house because of a shot wheel bearing on Marv's bus - but cold beer and Carol's two-inch think pork chops (even better than the steaks) quickly remedied this.

We piled into the Suburbans on day two, after another night of beer and poker (and shenanigans in the hot tub), and headed south to Akaska, SD to hunt this other fella's farm. The birds were hot and heavy, and in 90 minutes of walking and shooting we limited out. Which was a good thing, because there were some folks hankering to get back to the lodge to watch the USC-Auburn game. We took a few trophy shots, celebrated our impeccable shooting, a took off back for hot lunch and some football.



"The Group" - right after "The Field"
We caught the second half of UNC's victory over Ken-tuck, left a couple of guys back to watch the USC game, and headed out in search of the wily Sharptail Grouse. It wasn't that we were bird-hungry - we'd gotten our fix on pheasant that morning. But when you have the opportunity to hunt this beautiful country, you really want to do it until the sun goes down. We worked a couple of fields, moved two coveys around, but they stayed so far in front of us that we didn't have any great shots. The other guys loaded up, and Steve from Minneapolis and I walked it in to the lodge from about two miles out. If you could have seen the sun set over this wide-open rolling Dakota land, you'd've stayed out too.

We got out of bed early Sunday morning to a snow storm, and staged for a quick hunt before we headed off to the airport. I admit, prior to the trip I was a little worried about hunting in the Dakotas in December, but now I think this might just be the ideal time. The snow and the hoar frost and the close silence of nature in winter seems like it makes the bird hunting all the more pure. We roused a big buck out of a copse, and he galloped off through the snow, and the birds flew thick and fast. I was hunting between a couple of locals with a brace of  3:1 lab-pointer cross dogs, and they were in high spirits, which adds immensely to the overall experience. There is something special about working in a dog-man-gun team that makes me care not a whit if I bring a bird home or not. I winged a bird and had to chase him when he stated running - by this time I'd learned that if you give chase, you had better be sprinting, not just at a trot. Even so, every time I caught a glimpse through the grass he was 10 yards in front of where I thought he would be. He started to take off, and I knew the dog wasn't too far behind, so I took a crazy off-hand shot without breaking stride and managed to score a hit. "Spencer" the dog came flying by and finished him off for me in a cloud of feathers and snow, and we trotted back to our flanker position. I wish I could have brought Dean along, because he would have had the time of his young life. One day, one day.

The full photo archive from the trip is online here, hosted on Picasa.


Frosty Sunday Morning Birds

We walked up a winter wonderland this morning, and downed 22 roosters by 11:30. This is gorgeous country, and so chock full of birds that we could spend another week and not run out of shooting.

Location : 5th Ave, Glenham, SD 57631,
Posted via Blogaway on Android 2.2

Bag Limit

Three roosters and a Benelli Super Black Eagle, just south of Akaska, South Dakota. Dec 4th, 2010.

Location : 12440 296th Ave, Glenham, SD 57631,
Posted via Blogaway on Android 2.2


We spent the last few hours of Saturday pushing sharps around a few square miles of wheat stub. Had a couple coveys of 12-16 birds moving out in front of us, but had very few get inside 50 yards. But the sun setting off to the west and a line of blaze-clad hunters working a half-mile crescent of farmland made an empty bag of little consequence.

Location : 12463-12499 296th Ave, Glenham, SD 57631,
Posted via Blogaway on Android 2.2



Location : Glenham Rd, Glenham, SD 57631,
Posted via Blogaway on Android 2.2

A Good Morning

We set out this morning for some farmland south of Akaska South Dakota in our convoy of Suburbans and Super Dutys. We would have been in Marv's Magic Bus but we blew a wheel bearing last night on the way in. We started walking them up about 10:15 and by the time we counted birds by the truck at 12:05 we had 36 roosters. We probably flushed over 500 birds total, scared up a buck, and generally shot like it was World War III.

Back to the lodge for lunch and the second half of UNC - Kentucky, then out after sharp tail grouse in the creek bottoms.

Location : 147th St, Selby, SD 57472,
Posted via Blogaway on Android 2.2


Number Two

Location : Unnamed Rd, Glenham, SD 57631,
Posted via Blogaway on Android 2.2

On The Bus

First hunt under our belt this morning nabbed two birds. On our way to the next field!

Location : Address not available
Posted via Blogaway on Android 2.2


Sitting Bull's Burial Site

Location : 701-799 W Grand Crossing, Mobridge, SD 57601,
Posted via Blogaway on Android 2.2

On The Way

Well, we are airborne on Delta flight DL2007 bound for Glenham SD. The blue ridge mountains were gorgeous in the early morning light and there was snow on the ground when the clouds broke over Ft Wayne IN.

Dad and I are enjoying the in flight wi-fi courtesy of google. Dad has just figured out how the pandora app on his ipad works, and even though he couldnt get enough bandwidth to buffer out a Netflix movie, he is in internet connected travelers bliss as he listens the ricky skaggs, emmylou harris and guy clark on his new tablet. Me, I am tuned into Old Crow Medecine Show on my android phone while I am writing this blog post.

We have a short layover in MSP and then into the dakotas, where it is a balmy 12 degrees. The group is cheerful and of good character, and the latest reports from Marc indicate we can "gun up" this afternoon if we get there by 3.

More to follow!

Posted via Blogaway on Android 2.2


By the way..

After we get back from the frigid North, having to some extent diminished the local pheasant population, I need to figure out a time to take my wonderful wife to this warm-looking place:

Thanks, honey.

Testing, one two...

Well, looks like Matilda has gone mobile. I just installed the BlogAway app on my Android phone and am giving it a quick go. Look for more mobile blogging in the near future if this pans out.

We took this pic of Jack out at the Guilford Courthouse National Battlefield park, the weekend before thanksgiving.  Apprently it is the last pic i took with the phone. Pretty nifty huh?


Sodak Pre-Hunt

You know, the anticipation pre-hunt is almost as fun as getting out there and getting some. We head to Pheasant Cove in about 56 hours, and Dad was acting like a kid in a candy store last time I saw him. I am sure he has already packed and re-packed and un packed and cleaned his gun and re-packed. I finally got all my man stuff and implements of bird-death down out of the attic and am trying to figure out how little I can bring and not freeze in the 2-degree Farenheit tundra of Glenham South Dakota.

Needless to say, this is going to be a fantastic trip. I can already anticipate it.


Dean the Acrobat

Dean decided he wasn't quite getting enough press recently, so he needed to show off a little bit out at Lake Brandt this weekend. Despite his lack of desire to retrieve birds, he has a pretty incredible ball drive.While he is not quite as intense as a Shepherd or a Lab, he makes up for that with a little extra style and panache (not to mention persistence..)


I managed to get quite a few shots of him airborne - tricky to do, since I was throwing the ball, working the camera and receiving the retrieves. But some of these are quite interesting - you might almost call him an artiste.


But me? An acrobat artist? Not so much..


Wild Game Cooking

I am proud to introduce yet another facet to my man-blog: Dean's adventures in the world of Wild Game Cooking.

Tonight's meal was a product of our recent upland bird hunt at Riverbend, and boy was it delicious. Bacon-wrapped Fingerville Quail on Mushroom Rice Pilaf, with Soy-sauteed Sugar Snap Peas. Served Family style with a Fat Tire Ale. Mmmm..

We started out with a little food prep - only had to take three spent shot out of the birds. Once I got them all cleaned up, they looked pretty good!

The plan was to wrap the birds in bacon..

roast until cooked throughout and nicely browned..

and serve over a mushroom rice pilaf with sauteed sugar snap peas on the side, family style.

Damn, that turned out well!


Hunting Video #1

Stephen takes a quail over Dean's point, steady to fall.


Whaler Project: We Got Seats!

Check out the brand new Tempress All-Weather Boat Seats in Marine White:

It's time to start putting this thing together! (if only the sun will come out..)


Whaler Project: Console

I have spent quite a bit of time shopping around for a suitable after-market console for the 15' Super Sport, but I couldn't find anything under $500. The best I found was the Todd Helmsman, which came with a windshield and grab rail, but it was still not cheap. I decided to troll EBay, and was fortunate enough a few weeks ago to find this steal for $175 with shipping:

Awesome. Can't wait to get this guy installed. I am thinking it will stay on the right side, same as the existing mahogany OEM console. I am getting a quote for a windshield - I think I can find a nice little Lexan job for not too much. This should handle the steering wheel, depthfinder, compass, GPS and gauges without any trouble. Oh, and a beer holder for the Cap'n..