I have no gift for prophecy. By noon the next day, after two hours of hunting wild pheasants in north-central South Dakota, we had seen just a handful of birds, with nary a rooster among them.
We’d made the seven-hour drive from Rochester with David Lowe, who is the most die-hard pheasant hunter I’ve ever known. I’ve hunted this area southwest of Aberdeen numerous times with David, but never in December, and Randy’s only previous hunt in South Dakota was a less-than-stellar excursion on public land more than a decade ago.
My expectations for this three-day hunt were sky-high. The corn harvest was complete, Randy and David are both crack shots, and we had plenty of dog power. David brought three Labs – Dolly, Murphy and Indy – and Randy has two pointers, Chance and Zoey. With my short-legged Lab, Roxie, plodding along behind these sprinters, I had every reason to believe we’d put nine birds in the freezer by early afternoon each day.
But you can’t shoot what isn’t there.
On Dec. 17 we battled sub-zero windchill as we started our hunt with a hike around a cattail-ringed lake. We