A Memorable Hunt
What makes a memorable hunt? For some it might be the location, for others it might be how successful the hunt was or how big the animals harvested were. Maybe the people you are hunting with or some other variable I’m not aware of. The farther into hunting I have gotten I have found that there are many variables that go into a memorable hunt.
This year for the Minnesota pheasant hunting opener Modern Carnivore founder, Mark Norquist, Sportsman for the Boundary Waters director Lukas Leaf and myself were invited to participate in the MN Governor’s Pheasant Opener in Luverne, MN. Luverne is a small town on the western side of the state not far from the South Dakota boarder.
We made our way down the Friday before opening day and took part in a few of the events including the dedication of 93 acres of new public land, Rooster Ridge Wildlife Management Area .There was the typical banquet and then a party at the Take 16 brewery in town. Fun was had and beers were drunk late into the evening.
Morning Comes Early
Saturday morning came early and we all gathered for breakfast and then out to the field with our host hunters. I was teamed up with a bunch of guys from all around the state. A local landowner had donated access to his private land and a couple of guys from Nebraska had brought their dogs to help host the hunt. The morning passed quickly and a few pheasants were flushed and one was dropped. It was a beautiful morning but was more of a formality than an actual hunt.
After the morning hunt there was a lunch and after lunch Mark, Lukas and I were invited by Eric Dinger to join his family for an evening hunt on public land. Eric runs a business called Powderhook that helps people get access to land for hunting, fishing and being outdoors.
Bring The Family
We met up with Eric at his parents place and I was immediately welcomed like I had known them my whole life. As we geared up and got ready to head out Eric’s dad Don told me to hop in his truck with him. I saw all the people getting in their vehicles and was thinking with this many people I probably don’t even need to bring my gun. So I left my shotgun and grabbed my camera instead.
After some planning Don had decided on the right spot for all of us to hunt. When we arrived at our destination and we all piled out of the vehicles I was a little shocked at how many of us there were. Eric’s wife and daughter, his dad, his brothers and their wives, Mark, Lukas and me and four black labs were all heading out for an evening hunt. There were eleven or twelve of us stretched out over a couple hundred yards all in a line ready to push through the field.
Don’s plan was to push the field down to the end and be done there before 5:30 so when the pheasants started flying out of the corn we would be in place to push back through the field towards the vehicles. As we walked across the prairie it was amazing to watch the dogs work in front of us and to see Eric’s six-year-old daughter fight her way through grass, which in some spots, was twice as tall as her. All the while just wanting to hold her dad’s hand and talk about seed dispersion.
We pushed across the field and managed to jump a couple of hen pheasants and made it to the far side ahead of schedule. Don wanted to show me a small waterfall that ran through a grove of trees over the red quartzite rock that is predominant in the area. As the time got closer to 5:30 Don pointed up the hill towards the corn and we watched as the pheasants dumped out of the corn into the tall Bluestem grass. We all lined up for the big push and almost immediately started flushing birds.
Shouts of “hen” and “rooster” echoed across the field as we marched forward. The birds were flushing at an almost comical rate. At one point a rooster flushed on the right side of our party and flew the entire length of the party with almost everybody taking a shot, or three.
We were flushing mostly hens but there were roosters mixed in as well. Several of those roosters made their way into our game bags. At one point in the hunt Eric’s daughter had reached her breaking point and wanted to be carried. Eric shouted for me to come get his gun so he could carry her for the rest of the drive. I managed to rattle off a few shots but didn’t hit anything. I was having too much fun watching the way everyone was enjoying themselves to care about the misses.
Eventually Don passed his shotgun off to Eric and took his granddaughter up onto his shoulders for the rest of the hunt. At the end we had a grand total of four nice roosters to bring home. When we got back to Don’s house we were invited in and made to feel like part of the family. Don had some pheasants from a previous hunt and wanted to prepare some pheasant Chislic. So we all ate and laughed and told stories and ate chislic together.
It’s More Than The Birds
So what goes into a memorable hunt? For me it’s the community, seeing Eric’s family all out together, and inviting us to be part of it. It was about as good as it gets. There were birds shot and though it was the birds that got us out there it was the company, the stories and the food that really left an impression. Thank you to the Dinger Family for a memorable hunt.
For the uninitiated, Chislic is the unofficial food of South Dakota. Traditionally made with lamb, beef or venison it is seasoned cubes of meat that are deep fried. It can be done with any meat really so this is a version using Pheasant.
1 lbs. cubed pheasant meat
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp black pepper
Oil for frying
Combine the ingredients and let sit for 30 minutes. Heat the oil to 350 degrees and fry for 3 minutes. Serve with hot sauce and saltine crackers.