I've always enjoyed hunting pheasants in the late season for several reasons. First, the birds have been well educated by the constant onslaught of hunters beginning in mid-October and thus have developed a significantly diverse bag of tricks to test the mettle of any canine worthy of the title of pheasant dog. Second, pheasants typically are found in large aggregations in the late season and are prone to flushing at the least provocation (when one goes they all go). The third reason is that the weather usually adds to the challenge and is prone to keep all but the most dedicated hunters at home and I like not having a bunch of people around when I am hunting.
This past week my son Wade, his wife Corinne and our friend Rob Peterson visited for our annual late season pheasant hunt here in Montana. The birds were plentiful enough and were certainly more than up for the challenge. The weather cooperated wonderfully, although we were challenged by strong wind everyday. Owing to plentiful spring rain the cover was in very good condition making for challenging dog work.
I must confess to some poor planning on my part since both Elle and Boo are currently in the maternity ward nursing litters. I sold my excellent two year old male, Cash (Revilo's A Dollar Short((FTCH AFTCH Revilo's Cutting Edge X Revilo's Boogie Nights)), earlier this year and missed him terribly (although he isn't missing me having retrieved over 1000 birds this fall for his new owners). Thus we were a little shy on dog power during this hunt. We had Wade's dog, Duke and Rob's dog, Link to do most of the work. I did spring Elle and Boo for a couple of hours a couple of different days and they both had bird work and retrieves both of which they seemed highly appreciative of.
One product which I have gained an appreciation of during these marathon late season hunts is Annamaet Glycocharge Dog Powder Supplement. We have found this product to be very effective in relieving the stiffness and fatigue which the dogs normally exhibit following a strenuous day of chasing these elusive birds. Normally we are in the field most of the day for the entire hunt so the dogs put of lots of miles. This product has definitely made a difference in the dog's performance. This was most evident on this trip when we were short on dog power.
Although short on dogs this year, Duke and Link put on an impressive demonstration of matching wits with these late season birds. I'd be lying if I didn't say that they lost a few battles but they also won some I didn't think they would. Of course their abilities were hampered some by owners that failed to follow up a great job by straight shooting and received "that look" that most of us that hunt with dogs know so well.
I certainly recommend hunting these late season wild birds if you ever have the opportunity. They are an excellent way to test you and your dogs ability and to match wits with one of the toughest game birds in North America. I love it.