Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pheasant Hunting Eastern Washington State

Scott & Disco with their "giant" rooster pheasant

Friend and guest author, Fran Seagren is great about keeping a journal about the hunting adventures that she, husband Scott Seagren, and dogs, Ruby, Robert, Sarge and Disco experience as they are hunting pheasant, quail and grouse.  This post came in last week. 

As anyone knows that hunts pheasants in eastern Washington, it is not South Dakota.  As a matter of fact, one of my dog magazines that reports pheasant numbers expected for each state each year, doesn’t even mention Washington.   I guess that’s good in that we don’t get any out-of-state hunters crowding our “best hunting” spots.  So, what I’m trying to say is, if you want to hunt pheasants in Washington, you better be prepared to do a lot of walking and have a good dog or two.  The cover is rough and the pheasants are as wily as they come.  But when you get one of those ditch dragons, it’s a real prize.

Scott and I think we have a pretty good “upland hunting team” of dogs this year.  We have two labs and two red setters.  On our second hunt last Thursday, Scott took Disco, his little black lab, and I hunted Robert, my red setter.  We were in an area that holds both quail and pheasants.  Scott and Disco were working down closer to the trees and I was up a little higher near where the sage starts up.  The cover is incredibly thick in most areas.  Robert went on a point up ahead - facing me about 70 yards.  I could see his head and tail as I walked toward him.  Then, I heard the flush of quail wings, but there was a tree off to my right and I’m guessing they flushed behind it, because I didn’t see a bird.  I saw Robert standing steady and I continued to walk toward him - thinking there could be more.  When I got within 20 yards of Robert, a single flushed up and veered to my left toward Scott.  I turned as I heard him shoot.  I could see Scott stopped so I assumed he hit the bird and Disco was looking for it.  I called Robert over to me and we waited.  We stood there for about 5 minutes or longer, and then Scott held the quail above his head.   I gave a “thumbs up” and we continued our hunt.  Scott told me the quail came directly at his head, wings a blur.  He shouldered his gun thinking it would veer to one side or the other as soon as it spotted him.  But it didn’t.  As soon as it got very close and at eye level, Scott jumped back a couple steps, as it zipped past where his head had just been.  He turned and fired.  It fell in swampy cattails and Scott sent Disco for the retrieve.  He said she hunted and hunted and finally came out with a very wet quail.
We continued on down the tree line draw with Scott and Disco staying in the thickest cover while Robert and I hunted up a little higher where the cover was not as heavy.  About 30 minutes later, I heard Scott shoot again.  I couldn’t see him as clearly so after a few minutes, I called him on the radio.  He said they got a rooster.  Well, I just had to go over and see the prize.  As Robert and I got close, Scott held it up – it looked huge - a beautiful full feathered rooster.  

Scott said Disco had been acting like she was following a “runner.”  He had heard roosters cackling and saw two roosters take off out of range.  They hunted very quietly, with Scott following Disco through the thickest cover of Russian olive trees, and then finally out into a clearing.  He said he stopped for a second, turned to see Disco come out of the cover to his side.  She made two quick little turns, in full “birdy-mode” and then torpedoed into a small sagebrush right in front of him.  The rooster came straight up.  Scott said the tail moved like a snake as the veteran rooster rattled its way clear of Disco without even the smallest “cackle” they are famous for.  He said it had flushed at 10 yards and he waited to take the shot as the rooster gained speed heading for the next bunch of trees.  He fired and it fell in heavy brush.  Scott did not wait to send Disco this time.  He thought his shot may have only wounded the bird, and he didn’t want to take a chance of it getting away.  Disco hit the brush like she always does, full speed.  Scott said he could hear her moving around and see the cover moving, then the motion stopped – a good sign - then, a slow movement back toward him.  He said when Disco came out of the cover, all he could see was the rooster at first, moving toward him and then just the bottom of two little black legs.  The rooster was DOA.

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