Brute's Bleat October 18, 2017

A half-day grouse hunting trip a week ago on Wednesday didn’t put any in the roaster for either Daryl Hennen or myself, but Hennen got to shoot at two that afternoon. We figured hunting the late afternoon might be more productive and it could have been. We both had a chance to see a male grouse with his neck feathers all ruffed up on one trail. It was out of range and when it flushed in the brush Hennen couldn’t get a shot off, but threw a couple of long shot salvos as a last-ditch effort. Anyway, it was fun to see the grouse all ruffed up, something I have only seen once before in my lifetime. We flushed only three birds, two of which Hennen shot at; but an effort by us and the dogs to find the grouse was not successful and we came home empty-handed. I had to brake pretty hard to let a doe deer cross Highway 23 and Hennen said there were three more in the ditch on his side. . . On Saturday, the opener of the pheasant hunting season, I decided on a relatively new WMA northeast of town where I had seen a hen and rooster fly out of on different days. Vanna and I walked the perimeter and kicked out a pair of fawns, but no birds. While we were heading for another spot a rooster flew out of a corn field and landed in the road ditch. We slowed down and figured it might hold in the ditch grass, but before we came to a complete stop the wily old cock ran back across the road and disappeared into the corn field it had flown out of. He sure looked pretty, and it was the only rooster we saw all weekend, including a trip as far west as Beardsley with Daryl and his son, Tony’s, dog, Paisley, on Sunday afternoon. We’ve hunted in that area over the years and it was considered to be one of the brighter spots in the pheasant range. We gave it our best effort and came up with only three flushes on hen pheasants. Daryl was pleased to watch Tony’s young brown and white Springer Spaniel pick up a scent on one of the hens. Vanna tried to run a bird down in tire tracks in the grass, but never caught up with the hen which flushed well ahead of her. There weren’t very many hunters out in that area and we didn’t hear any shots. It’s obvious the lack of CRP land has devastated the bird population, along with a kick in the butt from Mother Nature, which didn’t provide ideal nesting conditions last spring. There are lots of variables affecting the pheasant population which goes up and down with the weather and the changes in farming practices. . . On the way back to ML we counted at least 10 deer, one of which nearly collided with the driver’s side of Daryl’s Expedition. One group of five was out feeding and the rest of them were either in the ditch right-of-way or in adjoining fields. . . Those hunting in the Marshall area harvested birds, 20-plus in the Governor’s Opener group, and hunters from Maple Lake saw a fair number of birds while hunting in that area. Most reports said they were seeing more hens which means the roosters were hanging out in the corn or there was an imbalance of hens and roosters in this year’s hatch which could bode well for next year’s population. Daryl and I aren’t giving up on the pheasants and will head southwest next time out! . . Mike Muller finished his Canada goose and duck hunting last week and said this was his best year ever in Canada. They harvested 59 Snow geese, three Canada geese, some ducks and roughly 20 more Ruffed grouse on their second trip. Mike said they didn’t hunt a couple of fields where he estimated the Canada geese numbered 300 to 500. He commented his son, Ken, didn’t hunt one day, but assisted their hosts, the Sam and Joanne Rowluk family, by helping mow cattails which are used for bedding in the beef cattle operation. He also reminded me Joanne cooked them another outstanding Thanksgiving Day meal which included three different pies for dessert, including lemon meringue, my favorite. . . I stopped by the Star Bank last week and shot the breeze briefly with owner, Andy Wahlquist, who is an avid hunter. He commented he was heading for Canada’s Delta Marsh the next day and I could tell his excitement level was rising. A number of years ago we, the late Roger Niedzielski, Daryl Hennen and myself, hunted that area of Canada, eventually staying in a hunter’s shack. We didn’t hunt the delta but our host had and told about how they left duck decoys in strategic spots of the vast delta so they could find their way back to the Jimmy Robinson headquarters. The only problem was ducks tended to land among the decoys and they lost their markers! With the modern-day GPS that shouldn’t be a problem for Andy who is making his first trip there.
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After a walk in Ney Park last week and seeing two people and their riding horses and a third person, a veterinarian from Buffalo, in the parking lot examining one of the quarter horses we figured something had happened. The lady commented her horse had gone down while they were on a riding trail. It sounded like the horse had eaten too much grass and needed an oil treatment to relieve its plugged-up condition. We didn’t stick around to watch the procedure, but it involved placing a tube down the horse’s throat. Medical doctors don’t make many house calls anymore, but it’s still a needed service vets provide!

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