Brute’s Bleat December 16, 2015

My thanks to Nick Pawlenty for pinch-hitting for me last week while I was admiring the country-side while hunting for pheasants in North Dakota. I think he should be a regular columnist. As for our late season pheasant hunt, Mike Muller, Daryl Hennen and I, could summarize by saying it wasn’t a good trip. But that would only be true if a person’s decision was based on the pheasant harvest which in our case was five pheasants and two sharptails. We were hunting south of Bismark on the west side of the river and stayed in the small town of Flasher at the Antelope Lodge and Recreation Center. Despite the attractive name, it wasn’t the Taj Mahal but more than adequate for the three of us and our three dogs and inexpensive at $20 a night per person.
We were in a new area and knew we would be driving around a lot looking for something to hunt. Our lone contact was the Weinhammer Ranch near Shields which we found out was a pay-to-hunt place and at $150 per, we politely declined. We saw lots of pheasants along the road, especially near farmsteads, but they were quick to fly the minute we slowed down or while trying to hop out of Daryl’s Expedition. Hopping out at 83 is a slow process! We came across the Payne Pretty Rock Angus Ranch Tuesday where there were a ton of pheasants flying and running next to a windbreak shelterbelt. We were all amazed at the number of birds and figured it was another pay-to-hunt ranch. The sheer number of birds told us to stop anyway and I was elected to knock on the door to get the scoop. It wasn’t a fee-hunt and the rancher assured me all of the birds were wild. The sticker was he was in the process of weaning his Angus calves and he said any loud noises tended to traumatize the herd and he hadn’t allowed any hunting for a month. He suggested we try a neighbor, and this time Daryl went knocking. Our luck didn’t improve as that rancher had hunters coming from Wisconsin the next day. The Lodge owner suggested we hunt her brother’s creek bottom just out of Flasher where our dogs put up a fair number of hens and two roosters out of shooting distance. We also stopped at a ranch that looked good, but the owner said he didn’t have any pheasants, but we could shoot all the turkeys we wanted. He said he counted 84 in his shelterbelt one day. We also hunted near New England, Elgin, New Leipzig and Leith. In the first-bird contest Hennen had two, Monday and Thursday, and I had one on Wednesday. Daryl also won the largest spur and Muller aced the long tail contest. I had the uncanny luck of being in the right place several times for doubles, but didn’t connect. That’s not good anytime, but even worse late season. The weather was warm, 64 degrees one day, but extremely windy on our last day, Thursday.
Like Maple Lake, Flasher doesn’t have a regular cafe, so we brought along frozen breakfasts which we prepared in the Lodge microwave. The Flasher area, and that to the west, was apparently settled by German immigrants and the menus contained German dishes. We were familiar with Knuephla soup which is tasty and contains dumplings. One we hadn’t heard of or tried was Fleischkuechle. Hennen and I tried that one, a beef patty, dipped in batter and deep fried at the One More Bar and Grill in Flasher. Even after one beer neither one of us were blown away by the German delicacy. To me it seemed bland or maybe I like spicy food better.
It’s always interesting to visit with the people we meet and that held true with Sherwood Schmidt, a rancher who let us hunt in his creek bottom Thursday morning. Like most of North Dakota, he was a true Republican. I was a little surprised he was such an ardent supporter of Don Trump, but he apparently liked what Trump has to say about immigration and Obama care. As a cattle rancher, he didn’t like the way the United States is allowing beef to be brought in from other countries, which has dropped the price for him and other ranchers, but not in the supermarkets. One of his ranch-hands, Brad, lived in an apartment at the Lodge with his wife and connected us with Sherwood. Brad, a former Marine from North Carolina, has lived in other Midwestern states and found a home in Flasher where he met and married his wife. Had we stayed another day he offered to guide us to a rancher friend who was having a problem with too many pheasants. Maybe we should have, but that wasn’t the plan!
I almost forgot, in our 31 games, Daryl and I each had three and Muller two.

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