Pheasant Hunting - Tower Shoot

My recent hunting trip with a few buddies brought up a conversation between my father and me that's been going on for years.  Ever since we took up shooting, which we did together, bird hunting has been something we've wanted to make a father son adventure.  

We try to spend a lot of time together, whether it be on the golf course, stream side, taking in a Hawks game or doing some shooting.  No matter the season, we'll find reasons to get together.  

With the gun club my father belongs to in full swing, a group of shooters was putting together a tower shoot at a hunt club up in southern Wisconsin.  I knew a few of the guys going and knew it would be a great hunt.  I shot with these guys in league shoots for a number of years, but haven't gotten out more than a handful of times over the last two or three years.  So I was hoping to knock the rust off quick, but was confident we'd have a blast either way.  

Tower shoots are made up of 14 stations, surrounding a tower, in which birds are released in groups.  Some will fly out and give you a target, while others will float down in to the trees.  All the shooters are about thirty five to forty yards away from the tower and are in blinds about six feet tall.  We were recommended to bring a case between the two of us, and told to shoot at anything close.  There was to be a lot of action.  

Compared to the last time I witnessed a pheasant hunt, this was going to be quite a bit different.  We had teams of dogs and guides ready to pick up the birds we knock down and there seemed to be action everywhere.  It was very different than a bird getting spotted and spooked out.  You really had to anticipate how the bird was going to fly and have the patience to wait until the birds come close enough.  Improved modified chokes could only help so much. 

Progressing through the stations, we began to get the hang of it and really started to get the feel for leads and were able to hold back long enough for them to come in to range.  We realized this around stations ten and eleven though, leaving us short on ammo and coming in to the best blinds.  We chuckled as we knew we had knocked down our share of pheasant, but didn't realize how many shells we had gone through.  Maybe we were't such great shots after all!  

As we cracked the tape on another box to split, we filled our pockets and were set for our last station.  With the last few birds released the horn sounded, we emptied our guns and gave each other a high five and a big hug.  We had just shared our first successful hunt.  A father-son bonding moment that I'll never forget.  As we walked back in we replayed the best of our shots, the birds we knocked down and how we needed to look at our calendars and get another hunt on the books.  Cracking the top on a couple of Hamm's we reconnected with the guys and traded stories and pheasant jerky.  As things wrapped up I kicked back and soaked it in.  Times and memories like these are best shared and getting to do so with my best bud is always a blast.  

Deacon the Wonderdog - My First Pheasant Hunt

Stuart and I have been extremely busy over the last few weeks as we try to finish up 2014 with a bang.  The last couple of weekends have been spent out on Lake Michigan chasing lake trout, lake run browns and cohos with Austin Adduci from Grab Your Fly Charters.  Austin's been great and put us on fish, but we'll get to that later. 

The company I work for has offices around the Midwest and I work with some great people.  One thing most of the guys who sell for us have in common is a love for the outdoors.  For some that means they're avid hunters, others of us avid fishermen.  I had gotten wind of a few guys looking to set up a pheasant hunt at a game farm up in Wisconsin and was offered up an invitation to join to take some pictures.  I'm not much of a hunter and thought going along to take some pictures would be a good introduction in to the sport and if I enjoyed it, I knew it wouldn't be too hard to convince everyone to go again.  

After a late night at our company holiday party, we arose early a bit sleepy headed, but ready to hit the road and get the day started.  A quick couple hours in the car, watching the sun come up over the farmers fields, and we were one of the first to arrive.  The day was quite foggy and overcast, unseasonably warm for December.  As we gathered our gear and downed our coffee, they got the birds out and readied them to be dropped in the field.  An odd thing to look at the birds you know will soon wrapped up and ready to be seasoned and tossed on the grill.  

I was with three of my co-workers, Nick, Tony and Matt.  All avid hunters and great shooters that do a good amount of both deer and bird hunting.  Nick brought along his dog, Deacon, who would be working up the birds for us.  I'm a big dog guy and was excited to see him work.  And boy did he work.  

After getting the go ahead, we grabbed our gear and headed out to our field.  Broken almost in to segments, the guys noted it would section off nicely, allowing Deacon to work everything thoroughly.  And like that we were off.  

It's amazing how fast 4 hours can go by.  We walked the field, kicked up birds, and had a blast.  Getting to watch Deacon work was like watching a craftsman ply their trade with grace and expertise.  He worked back when the wind was in to us, worked away from us when the wind was at our backs.  I'm not familiar with training dogs or what goes in to it, but I have to say, this was impressive.  

The guys got their lot of 25 birds and we even bagged a couple of black pheasants.  As part of the deal I worked out first dibs on the feathers and walked away with more feathers than a guy can use.  Though those black tail feathers are gonna look good on some nymphs.  

Needless to say I'll be for sure getting out there and doing this again, only this time lining up the beads on the barrel of the shotgun, not a lens and camera.