Winter Roosters

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Winter Roosters

Postby AverageGuy » Sat Dec 08, 2018 10:45 am

Spud and I were back on the Prairie last week. Its winter now and the grass waterways and lighter cover which previously produced pointed roosters were pretty much void of birds on this trip. The thick waist tall Kochia Weed patches, Cattails and heavy Tree Rows were where the birds are now. The farms and birds we hunted have been hunted since the season's start by others as well as Spud and I. We worked hard laboring through the heavy cover for 3 to 4 hours each day to bring 3 roosters to bag. Each day produced at least one gimme close range pointed rooster but the other 2 were more often a challenging late season longer range, going away shot angle on a big strong heavily feathered cock. Close range pointed hens out numbered roosters 10:1 with the roosters more often running and flushing going away at longer ranges off the same points that produced the close range hens. A few places the snow was fluffy but many others it was crusted and hard which makes noise, which is never a good thing on educated rooster pheasants. That is the challenge and the appeal of the later season roosters.

It was cold.

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Imagine how Hardy the folks who live here had to be.

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You can see the heavy winter coats fluffed up to trap their body heat on these Pronghorns.

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Spud never shorts me for effort and I appreciate and admire that about him.

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Birds Ahead Boss.

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They're Running, We've Got to Move up, Boss.

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There's a bunch of em in here, Boss.

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But they are running too!

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Spud does consistent nice work before the shot, but also has a few frustrated young dog mistakes along the way. Running roosters will bring that out in a high prey drive dog is my experience. But his work after the shot is one high five moment after another and a big part of why his breed appeals so much to me.

This was a meatball close range shot on a pointed rooster in those cattails.

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This is our 3rd bird on this day. A long protracted pursuit of close range pointed then flushed hens with roosters running ahead up a thick Kochia weed choked fenceline next to a sunflower field. Yet another point, with a hen going up close and rooster going up long. I made a nice shot on the high going away rooster as more birds flushed ahead. Spud raced to the mark, scooped up the rooster and headed in on a run, but his mind was on those birds that continued to flush on up the way. I liked it so chose to post it here.

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Spud went on point in a Kochia Weed patch. I waded in and a hen went up close, followed by a huge rooster - not close but a doable shot for the Nickel Plated 5s 12 gauge load and Mod Choke I was shooting. I hit the rooster in the back hard with one shot and he started down. I foolishly did not fire again and the rooster got the eye of the Tiger and struggled into the road ditch about 75 yards away with Spud in hot pursuit. Spud bounced into the road ditch and disappeared and then bounced right out on the higher edge along the gravel road, bouncing down the ditch, using his eyes and ears as well as his nose. He dove back into the ditch and promptly came out with the big rooster. Odd grip on it, but I would be stupid to pick at my partner's work.

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Check out the Hooks and Tail on that brute.

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Busting through the heavy cover wore me out. Each day I was more tired than the prior. Each afternoon I would look for a slightly out of the wind spot to clean some birds and head back to our motel for some rest. Taking time to setup a pretty photo of Spud posing with a limit was not a priority but I did take this one which turned out decent, I thought. Spud hit a fence while airing in the morning dark on a road trip to Iowa the week before this trip, and the wound is visible. Really bad spot for an injury on a dog who spends alot of time ramming his head through abrasive heavy cover.

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Saw Prairie Chickens and Sharptails every day. Often perched in trees. We got one shooting opportunity and if I had been better I would have gotten a double, but I wasn't so we got one. We were working a slough with a slightly from our back crosswind which was the best we could do with our parking access point to the cover. Spud was making intelligent runs downwind and working back towards me into the wind on the downwind side of the slough when he slammed down on a point. A group of 4 Sharptails launched immediately 30 yards ahead of Spud and between us, and came clucking high at an angle which took them past me at about 45 yards. I rolled the first one, shot behind the second one.

Spud looking proud as he comes in with the Sharpie.

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The Native Birds are the Best equipped for the Prairie Winters. Snowshoe feet with talons for clawing through ice and deep snow. Their Lungs are nearly twice the relative size of the bird compared to a Rooster pheasant allowing them to traverse much farther distances between roosts and feed daily. Each one is a treasure for me.

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That's it for the photos. On the Fur Front we had one major battle with a Raccoon in the Cattails yielding a dead coon and a bleeding Spud. Bites to the muzzle and his right front foot. Saw alot of blood in the snow from that foot the rest of the trip but it did not slow him down while we were hunting. Epsom salt soaks and previcox in the evening.

And we had yet another porky incident which makes one or more for every trip this year. Garmin alerted me to Spud pointing in a dense waist tall Kochia weed patch. I wade in to flush and nothing flushes. Past bad experience has improved me a little and I immediately see Spud's demeanor combined with nothing flushing brings PORKY to my fatigued brain. I shift my gun to my left hand and get my transmitter in my right as I peer down into the Kochia weeds where Spud is staring. He does not have the intensity of pointing a bird but rather just stops and stares at them. My brain processes there is a QUILL PIG right there!!!!. I mashed the buttons on the transmitter giving Spud an on the job performance review as I wheeled and exited commanding SPUD NO!!!. He complied immediately and I heeled him off a short distance and we continued hunting up the weedy fenceline another mile. On the dead walk trek back to the truck we passed by the porky site on the down wind side at about 70 yards. Spud ducked his head and slunk the moment he hit the scent cone and did not resume normal demeanor until he got out of it. I think we are making progress on the Porkies but have work to do on the coons.

That's a Wrap. Chasing Roosters locally and a short road trip in Iowa next week. Need to get on some gentleman Bobs soon before these running roosters ruin my dog. :) Archery whitetails this evening ...
Last edited by AverageGuy on Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:12 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Winter Roosters

Postby orhunter » Sat Dec 08, 2018 11:34 am

Thanks for sharing your adventure. The Spudster is looking good.
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Re: Winter Roosters

Postby flitecontrol » Sat Dec 08, 2018 11:43 am

Great pictures, and narrative. Glad you get to hunt often.
I've had several really good dogs, but none were perfect. Neither am I, so keep that in mind!
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Re: Winter Roosters

Postby jlw034 » Sat Dec 08, 2018 6:04 pm

Great work and great pics. Thanks for the story. Best of luck deer hunting. Headed back to SD in a week. I should be deer hunting, but walking with the dog is just so much fun.
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Re: Winter Roosters

Postby Drahthaar1108 » Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:38 pm

Awesome, thanks for taking us along. Forrest
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Re: Winter Roosters

Postby woodboro » Tue Dec 11, 2018 6:54 pm

I typically hunt first week in December , however last few years I have noticed more snow on ground or coming.
I have no issues huntin in single digit temps ...

This year I was out before turkey week , and had the 6 month old , bust a large jack as well as 4 phez .
Had a great time with those ugly mutts :lol:
Then headed for TX for a desert mountain goat.... Davis mountains are awesome.
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Re: Winter Roosters

Postby woodboro » Tue Dec 11, 2018 6:54 pm

I typically hunt first week in December , however last few years I have noticed more snow on ground or coming.
I have no issues huntin in single digit temps ...

This year I was out before turkey week , and had the 6 month old , bust a large jack as well as 4 phez .
Had a great time with those ugly mutts :lol:
Then headed for TX for a desert mountain goat.... Davis mountains are awesome.
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