Started the trip with the NSSC National Sporting Clay shoot.
Lots of fun.
Shot 20 & 28 gauges only – FITASC next year b/c sub gauge targets are getting too “normal” and boring.
Lots of 7 and 8 scores and I was pleased with my shooting.
Bobby Fowler & wife was on my 28g squad – interesting…..
0515AM depart from 168 into hurricane Patricia.
Side trip into Austin for Larrys guns.
1350 miles to Bowdle, SD.
10 am into OK.
Headed to Omaha to meet Steele Z.
KS @ 230 PM.
Flint Hills and grasslands in Kansas are cool.
First good leaf colors south of Topeka.
Very pretty sunset drive through Nebraska.
Arrived in Omaha 8 pm. Long haul.
Ducks in sky in Omaha.
What a magnificent morning drive going north.
Sunrise from east throws long bright light and spotlights color trees.
SD freeway speed limit 80!
Finally see pond ducks in mid SD.
Road to Aberdeen is thru duck factory!
Reached Bowdle 3PM.
Bird Down Lodge
Jeremy Hoffman owner
The Lodge is the old hospital building. Restaurant is below. Several us of stayed in one of their rental houses – was easier and could keep dogs in kennel in garage.
I love the camp short bus and dog trailer – brilliant! He drove, offloaded with guns & dogs and then she took blockers down to the end of the strip. Probably doubled the number of walks we could make avoiding truck wrangling.
This guy has this down to a science. He’s son of a local farmer and has a portion of family farm. Mostly farms for pheasant strips and since everyone around him harvests, he has the last and greatest habitat. He’s a crop duster in the off season.
The camp short bus made our walks very easy. We had several guys above 70 yrs and they didn’t miss a step the whole day. I hope I’m in as good a shape at that age as they are!
Jill & I made every walk. I tended to shoot mine early and then shoot backup or hold back and only take hard shots. Jill was magnificent as usual!
AM 4 roosters.
PM 2 roosters.
Bowdle SD pheasants.
Lots of runs down long windy rows of dying corn stalks.
Pheasant habitat management – this guy was excellent!
The Austin Woods & Waters Crew. These guys are a blast to hunt pheasants with!
AM 3 roosters
PP 5 roosters
A very cold (34), wet, windy morning. Jill still needed to cool off.
The chill was nice – for a while.
AM 6 roosters
PM 2 roosters
Travel to Mitchell SD to overnight on our way to Holt Creek Ringnecks in Atkinson Nebraska.
I invited Larry on the Chicken Hunt and he’s traveling with me.
Surplus of corn. Shortage of storage and rail transport – primarily due to high oil prices.
Obligatory Mitchell, SD Cabela picture.
Arrived Mitchell, SD 2PM.
Larry said “Let’s go see the Corn Palace”.
Yeah, you should probably skip this. It’s a very big building covered with corn on the cob.
Travel Mitchell, SD @ 12PM to Atkinson, NE Holt Creek Ringnecks & Prairie Chickens!
We needed another stop at Cabelas for bullets – imagine that!
Boyd County Court House where Larry had to get his NE hunting license. It’s been far too many years since we could do that in TX. She even laminated Larry’s and mine for us!
Arrived Holt Creek Ringnecks 3PM
Very big skies in NE sand hills.
We stayed in a very nice modern farm house on the ranch. This was looking out the front windows.
Betty, wife of Stan, was our hostess and made all our meals home cooked. It was delicious!
Smoky hot sunset in Nebraska.
You gotta love it when you’re far enough away that the cell doesn’t get service – I don’t do this often enough!
They ran 800 BLM mustangs on grass pasture. They were forbidden from feeding or caring for them other than letting them eat grass. The grandson was our guide and I tried to get him to stampede or run them so I could hear what 800 thundering horses sounded like. He said, “Gram wouldn’t like that.” and that was the end of the discussion.
I was worried. It took ALL DAY to find birds.
Grandson Austin was our guide – great young man!
Our hunting method was bird dogging it in a Suburban back and forth across grass pastures (mostly smooth with hidden irrigation ditches!) until we glassed bird heads or they flushed.
Austin avoided the ditches today but will get busted later…..
Saw some chickens early but lost them – they fly very far – even when you bust them from the trees!
At this time of year, chickens are sparse and wary. They covey and hold in Sept but if you don’t have a truck full of dogs, you’ll never have enough dog power to find them due to late Summer heat.
We lost another group we were trying to sneak when a hawk came along mid-stalk and busted them all to hell and gone.
Lunch was soup & sandwiches by Betty – wonderful!
Took an early afternoon ride around with Stan and Austin. Stan told many cool stories about growing up out here. Fun but didn’t see any birds……
Took a break and restarted around 430PM.
We found chickens working in and out of a corn field.
Cornfield was continually full of chickens. They were out far enough that you couldn’t flush them or stalk them. Smart birds!
We sat & watched for a bit as they worked in and out. Finally, some circled close enough overhead for me to shoot at.
I jumped out and shot.
Prairie Chicken In Hand!
60 yards, 20ga w #5 Fiocci.
Excellent and I’m glad I practiced long shots and had a full choke!
Sunset Chicken Picture!
Confident, unflappable, tired bird dog w/ gun & 1st Chicken.
Larry on a stalk at sunset. Very spooky birds – no luck today.
What they really look like.
NE Prairie Chicken a Day 2
The time changed overnight and Jill was ready to go early!
Saw 7 coveys
Shot several times. Long shots!
Many great points from Jill.
Prairie Chickens loafing in a field. Long zoom camera shot. We couldn’t get very close without spooking them.
Larry shot a great double on the second flush. It was beautiful.
Great nap after lunch.
Must taste & smell good – check out her ears!
Several a coveys after lunch. I shot a hen on a walk up flush. 40 yds. 20g full choke. Sweet!
NE Prairie Chickens Day 3
Missed 2 close birds to start the day
Team shot a monster rooster w Larry late morning.
Finally shot a late hen while jumping from the truck on the covey rise.
Jumped a last covey just at sunset. The Gide outran Larry and they bounced.
Great way to end a great hunt!
Depart Holt Creek Ringnecks 7am to Grand Isle NE to drop Larry at airport to return to Austin
Back on 281 South again.
Even saw chickens on high wires!
Depart Grand Isle 945 to Loveland CO.
Rocky Mountains in view!
Arrive Loveland CO 330
Sunset 430 p
Called guide. Has some ducks. He also has a bunch of Collared Doves!
Meet 5am for ducks w his dog.
Rockies are cool to see again.
1st day of duck hunting in CO
Nothing beats a great deke set and waiting for the ducks to come!
Gotta love those Rocky Mountain Mornings!
Am duck hunt
Shot 2 drakes and 1 mallard hen in 3 shots on a reed pond. Slow though.
I think it’s too early to really be trying to hunt waterfowl in late Oct or early Nov.
Future hunts will be upland only and then chase waterfowl on a dedicated waterfowl trip
Dairy Farm for eurasian collared doves east of Lucerne CO.
Big storms rolling in while hunting collared doves in the afternoon
The shooting was excellent. I stood out in a cut corn field between dairy barns and roost trees. Plenty of high collared doves to pop.
Jill had a big workout with lots of birds and some tough corn stubble to navigate.
A very nice collection of collared doves.
Ended shooting right before the storm comes in.
20 birds on 3 boxes. Bonanza!
Jill did 20 tough retrieves in a couple hours. She’s zonked!
It’s always a good hunt when the dog is pooped.
I field cleaned all the birds wo water. That was nasty.
No water for cleaning collared doves. Yuck!
Just realized that today and these trips are really amazing. Amazing personal fulfillment. Peak like this in every area of your life!!
You should pick non-upland duck states and do fly in bad ass duck hunt every year in addition to 2 state 10 day bad ass upland driving hunt.
I’m sorry I didn’t invite Todd. Do that every time.
Ducks and doves in the same day is pretty rare after early teal!
2nd day of CO Duck hunting
Different pond but very slow waiting for another north wind push.
Gadwall drake, buffleheads head drake, scotch double on 2 Redhead hens.
Need to practice mounting SBE w coat and layers.
Missed 2 due to bad mounts.
Travel back home Day 1
Last night Jill discovered the dog on her blanket.
I heard her growling and staring at her blanket.
Turns out there were dogs woven into it – couldn’t find a way to turn it so that dogs did not show!
She didn’t like it very much but was tired enough to sleep on it anyway.
Depart Loveland to Denver to see JSeibly.
830 depart Denver.
10am Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs for Maxfield Parrish mural.
Reproduction since 2000. Smaller than expected. Still very nice.
Sparse trees South of Fountain CO are changing very pretty.
Herds of antelope near hwy outside Raton, NM towards Clayton, NM.
Target is Abilene. 6hrs from Clayton NM.
Arr Lubbock 730. Good enough.
Day 2 travel back home.
Depart Lubbock 6am.
Still raining at home. Can see big line of clouds to SE. Radar confirms.
Back under solid clouds just north of crossing I 20.
Just passed 131K on truck near Coleman.
Re topped 183 s from brown wood is nice! Too short.
I’m coming home to the wet winter I’ve been expecting.
Home by 1230
Checked the river first. Was very high.
Nice to be home again. Most excellent trip!