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Thread: Ytd thoughts...

  1. #1

    Default Ytd thoughts...

    Returned yesterday from most recent trip..good hunting...crops all in...sloughs frozen...birds pretty well bunched...great dog work, much pointing, which is fun, some of which are held for several minutes...decent, even above-average shooting here...calm for the first 3 days, blew pretty good saturday, but at least it was in the 20's....warm-up coming! highs around 40 for the latter part of the week, have to get back out there! only 425 miles. Boots on the ground about 22 days so far in SD, heading for 30+, weather permitting. Oh, still shooting some pretty small roosters, must have been some later hatches. been shooting #5 shot most of the season, may shift to #4, at least for those shells in the magazine...tough, tough birds!!! Thur/Fri the birds were really out and about in the am/pm...not many hunters around
    Last edited by benelli-banger; 12-10-2018 at 08:56 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    Yep, that's about how I'd describe it too. Glad you had a fun trip. The roosters, particularly those using public ground, tend to be WAY, WAY back there, trying to stay out of reach.

    Word of caution about the sloughs people. They all LOOK like they're solid, but they aren't necessarily. Still some areas where even a dog breaks through. Same thing in stands of cattails in ditches. There are hidden culverts where the ice tends to be the worst. And as we know, the water is deeper this year than usual.
    "Most pheasants in South Dakota don't react too well to #5s." -The Hunt for Red Rooster

  3. #3
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    I just returned from 4 days in South Dakota and did a previous 4 days in mid November as well. Overall, this was probably the most successful year of pheasant hunting I've had in South Dakota and have been doing it since 2009. Some is luck, a lot of it is trial and error over repeated trips out there and figuring out how to turn the luck into your favor. All of my public land hunting was within an hour radius of Mitchell.

    November trip - Wednesday, solo, public land, 3 birds in about 3 hours.
    - Thursday, group of 5, private land, 12 birds, took all day. Certainly had our chances to limit.
    - Friday, group of 6, if I recall, maybe 6 birds, public land. Not a great day, I've documented it in a different post.
    December trip - Wednesday, public land, 2 guys and 2 dogs, 6 birds in 1.5 hours, with 4 EASY misses to start the day.
    - Thursday, public land, solo, 3 birds by 10:45am
    - Friday, public land, group of 5, feeling pretty confident that we could get 10-15 public land birds, ended with 4.... 2 missed birds.
    - Saturday, private land near Winner, traditionally very good, 3 birds for group of 7.

    My thoughts... there are A LOT of variables in play, but anybody that is determined, in shape, has a decent dog, is a decent shot, can reasonably expect a 1-2 man limit on public land in South Dakota every day. Any large groups on public land and it will be tough, large groups are just simply too loud and often involve hunters that are not as committed to the sport of upland hunting and yell or talk too much, get too tired, etc.

    If a spot doesn't look good, then don't waste your time hunting it. If it has nearby harvested corn, shelter belt, cattails, water, and different types of grasses, then hunt it. If it is missing any one of those, then skip it. I honestly don't understand people that complain about the public land in South Dakota. On Thursday when I got my limit in 45 minutes, I spent the remainder of the day driving around scouting new (to me) public land spots and taking notes in the SD Public Land Book on them. I have more positive looking land circled in that book than I could hunt in a week long trip. Yeah, there are spots in the state where there might not be much public land or it may be grazed or bailed, but for the most part every 5 miles there is some sort of public land that you can hunt, often times there are multiple spots within that 5 miles!

    Some other observations I have made over the years and this year. When hunting public land, Wednesday is ALWAYS my best day, Thursday is the next, Friday is worst, then Saturday. That also falls right in line with the least to most days of hunters I see out and about too.... I haven't hunted on a Monday or Tuesday before, but I would suspect that Mondays could be hit or miss depending on the weekend pressure, Tuesdays would be good days. If you could make a public trip that involved Tuesdays - Thursdays, your success rate goes up a lot.

    As far as how the birds are acting right now, where I was at was just the perfect amount of snowfall. Enough to knock down a lot of the grass and concentrate some birds, but not too much (in most places) to make it terribly difficult walking. The birds held TIGHT. Maybe tighter than I've ever seen. The grass is knocked down and almost makes a little cave or tunnel system under the knocked down grass and snowpiles that the birds can safely hide in. There was several times that my lab would be birdy in a small area for 5 -10 minutes, digging through everything, and eventually a bird would get up. A few hens he even caught. Another example of how tight the birds are holding, I shot one rooster, it went down, the dog retrieved it. I spent a few minutes trying to take a "cool in the field retrieving picture" with my dog and that bird, then also spent a few minutes on the phone returning a missed call from earlier. After 5-10 minutes of standing in this place and being FAR from quiet, my lab acts birdy about 10 feet from me and points a snowpile, starts digging in it, and out flies a rooster. I missed the first several birds of this trip because everything was flushing so close and I simply wasn't used to that.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackrabbit View Post
    I missed the first several birds of this trip because everything was flushing so close and I simply wasn't used to that.
    Feel. Your. Pain. It only took me 30 years of hunting the dang things to get pretty good at handling those. And still....once or twice a year. Stink up the world & miss a layup.
    "Most pheasants in South Dakota don't react too well to #5s." -The Hunt for Red Rooster

  5. #5

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    my dogs are pointing so much because of what has been said--birds are holding pretty darn tight, due to snowfall knocking down a bit of the cover. one spot we hunted for the first time this year probably hasn't been hunted this year, and it was plumb full of birds...a dry lake bed that has grass and cattails growing in it, and it is surrounded by picked corn...and it is down low, out of the wind...those birds didn't hold too well! many, many dozens of birds got up...we got a few, but most got away!!!!

  6. #6
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    Great report guys! Thanks for sharing.
    I went a few weeks ago and am looking to head back in the next couple of weeks(fingers crossed). They were holding super tight when I went...am surprised to hear this late in the game and more pressure that they are still doing that(snow helps).

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by gettinbirdie View Post
    Great report guys! Thanks for sharing.
    I went a few weeks ago and am looking to head back in the next couple of weeks(fingers crossed). They were holding super tight when I went...am surprised to hear this late in the game and more pressure that they are still doing that(snow helps).
    Ummm, don't hold your breath. I wouldn't say "holding tight" is the rule right now. If you're lucky enough to find birds that haven't been hunted much this year...maybe. But to get something to hold tight this time of year, you've got to get close to them first. That's the tough part. Quiet. Into the wind. Hunt backwards from the way most people have been doing it all year in a particular spot. If you're lucky enough to put the sneak on them, then they MIGHT hold tight if the cover allows them to do it. As jackrabbit alluded to, the cover this year is super dense. Bend it over a bit & put some snow on top....the birds are awful warm & safe under it all. If your dog thinks there's a slight possibility of a bird being around, you've got to really let them work the area & figure it out. But...cattails have LESS ground cover in them this year than usual due to all the water. Less opportunity for them holding tight in cattails. The sloughs are virtual runways for them. And once that first jumpy hen goes, they all go, whether that be off to the races, or flushing. This is particularly true the last hour of the day when they're in roosting cover. If you can find them earlier in the day, when they might be a bit spread out if weather permits, you'll stand a better chance of finding some that aren't quite so jumpy. But you've got to exercise extreme stealth tactics either way. And if you're in a big enough group, position blockers strategically. A couple guys can be more effective by hunting toward each other & trying to pinch them. They're still South Dakota ringnecks. And they're almost as smart as a springer spaniel by now. Almost.
    "Most pheasants in South Dakota don't react too well to #5s." -The Hunt for Red Rooster

  8. #8
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    Dec 2016
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    heading out this friday, plan to leave work early enought to hopefully get a afternoon walk in; destination is just NW of mitchell, but I think i'll hunt around Madison on Friday. sounded like there was some snow there a few days ago, but i hear there is some rain forecasted tonight. cant wait!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmnhunter View Post
    I think i'll hunt around Madison on Friday. sounded like there was some snow there a few days ago
    Have a great time! Not to be discouraging, but I don't think there's much snow at all in the Madison area. Maybe 1". 2" tops. To find more than that, you really need to get south of I-90.
    "Most pheasants in South Dakota don't react too well to #5s." -The Hunt for Red Rooster

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by A5 Sweet 16 View Post
    Have a great time! Not to be discouraging, but I don't think there's much snow at all in the Madison area. Maybe 1". 2" tops. To find more than that, you really need to get south of I-90.
    sounds good A5; are the potholes froze over enough atleast if I come across some?

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