Nebraska - The Heart of Pheasant Country
By Gamebirdhunts Field Staff Writer Evan J. Claassen
The place that I call home was once considered by some to be the heart of pheasant country. It’s still common to hear the older gentlemen in the coffee shops lamenting that the good old days are over. Many say they don’t even bother to hunt since the bird numbers aren’t what they used to be.
The truth is, there are still lots birds out there. Although you may not limit out in a few hundred yards of walking, the opportunity to kill a limit is still very real.
In the last several years we had seen fair numbers of birds in Southeast Nebraska, with surveys being up one year and down the next. Last year in particular was a tough year in my area(according to the old timers), many of the crops stood in the field for several weeks into the season, leaving many early season out of state hunters pretty disappointed and scratching their heads. After they headed home and the combines were finishing their work, my dog and I really started putting on the field miles and had our best season ever. We usually hunt alone, and find much of our success comes from heavy weedy edges, hedgerows, buffer strips and waterways that many hunters figure wouldn’t hold many birds. One outing really stands out in my mind as being special.
One cool late November morning we parked the pickup at the corner of a quarter section that had been all corn, with a waterway running diagonally from the southwest to northeast corner with a narrow, dense buffer strip of big bluestem on each side. My dog reached the grass a few seconds before me and instantly pointed near a doubled over clump of grass. I quickened my pace, and my thumb made sure the barrel selector on my Citori was on “under”(improved cylinder). Slowly I maneuvered to the side of my GSP, Betsy, watching her body quiver in anticipation of a bird. Then it happened, straight up went Mr. Rooster making a B-line for the other side of the farm. But the route he selected was a direct straight away from my bottom barrel and my load of nickel plated 5's stopped him in his tracks. Within 45 minutes we were near the opposite corner of the farm with two more roosters in my game bag and we walked slowly down the dirt road back to the pickup, both beaming as I praised her for a job well done.
You’ll get birds if you hunt smart, take your time, shoot well and listen to your dog’s instincts. They’re out there, go get ‘em!