On this episode of Setter Tales we’re joined by Steve Ries of Top Gun Kennel along with John Howard and Dave Dourson of Kinetic Dog Food on a hunt for wild Iowa pheasants over three special gun dogs I’m Wade Kisner and I grew up hunting upland birds. Nothing’s better than chasing a couple English Setters called Sweet Lou and Adeline. Lou is a Master Hunter and Adeline is quickly learning the trade. These are some some of our tales… Rooster! I had a feeling the “thumbs up” would work! Sweet Point Setter Tales brought to you by: Kinetic Doog Food the ultimate in performance nutrition for dogs on the move. Special thanks to our other fine sponsors. A while back, Steve and the Linn County Chapter of Pheasants Forever, helped many landowners throughout the area established habitat projects and food plots for wild pheasant. Today we get the privilege to tag along and hunt one of these projects that continues to produce large numbers of wild pheasants. There’s 96 acres of this… kind of… this patch here. But it’s… he’s hunted it before it’s good to have somebody that knows the strategy because of the birds obviously have an exit. They’re going to try to get out on, so what do you think, Steve? What’s the best way we can approach it today? (Steve) Well, you know Lake County Pheasants Forever helped us manage this property here for about the last 12 years and what we’ve done is we’ve put in a food plot and then really good habitat for nesting and winter cover. So, those birds were probably sitting right this food plot while we came in here. So, our approach is going to be… we’re just going to hunt it. We don’t try hunt the foot plots for safety of the birds, but We’ll just go out around and push these birds to the north and there should be good cover. We should be able to get into the birds over here. (Wade) Plenty of dogs here today. We’ll kind of switch them out as we go. We’ve got Setters, we’ve got German Short-hairs and we’ve got Labs, so we’ve got a little bit of everything. Looking forward to a great hunt. It’s a beautiful day and you know what’s really nice about this… Late December wild Iowa pheasants. Can’t get any better than that, can it? (Steve) No. That’s what we’re here for. Okay. Let’s get it done. Let’s go for it! (Dave) How old is she, Steve? [Princess Dye, German Short-hair Pointer] 12 1/2. (John) Actually, Sophie’s 11 [Yellow Lab]. I think these two have been hunting together since probably Sophie was 2, and Dye was 3. (Dave) Good looking dog. (John) Yeah, she’s still in great shape. 12 1/2 yea old dog, still hunts like she’s a 5 year-old. (Dave) She’s like, “Get me in the field right now!” (John) She never payed attention to anything at the show [trade show] other than getting petted til she saw a bird in there and was like “Boom” “Boom”. Steve, are you putting three short-hairs out because it takes three Short-Hairs to do one Lab and one Setter will do? Kicking it old school with that thing. (Dave) Well, you know what? … It’s bringing back some memories, for sure! Grandpa’s gun. (Steve) Just take notice when you get in there: all of the tracks that are in the snow. (John) Which direction are we working this? (Steve) Going to go straight back. Towards the highway. Soon as we push though this little patch of corn… we’re gonna kind of get our skirmish line… and push this other cover. We’re waiting for John. John is going right through the corn. It’s a little harder for him, we’re waiting to even up with him… (Steve) This should be pretty good… up in here. We’re just pushing them forward there’s a nice set of canary grass hear those birds will run and then they’ll take cover hopefully. Until you get up there and sneak in and get them. Rooster! (Travis) Nice shot! (Dave) That’s my third one! (John) Nice shot, Wade. Nice shot! Here! Here! Good call! Nice work, Lou! That’s a nice bird, man! (Wade) They’re a very nice bird! I had a couple chances over there. I had — We had good seats for that whole thing! (Dave) Well, it was fun! (John) They’re all flying that way. (Dave) It was just missing popcorn! Okay, how many we get? (John) I got one. …three …four …five. Five! (John) I only got one in my bag, therefore I’ve only gotten one, so far. Them two came right up next to you! The two roosters . I thought– he’s gonna get that double with the old side-by-side Rooster! Boom, boom! That one flew out this way… I couldn’t tell if it was a hen or a rooster. That poor bird picked a hell of a line, didn’t it? If you’re not sure? It’s probably a hen. When it’s a rooster you can tell… that dark old tail feather… (Wade) Maybe in a little bit, these guys will be done shooting it will be just me and you! Well… that’s what I’m waiting on! (Wade) You notice they wanted us on the edge where all the drifting snow blows to the edge of the field? I kind of figured that out too. (Dave) Steve kept going, “Go farther!” I was down by the railroad tracks! How much further do I gotta go? (Wade) “Why don’t you get a pizza while you’re over there?” (John) He was almost to Waterloo [Iowa] Okay guys, let’s go get a bird here! (Travis) They don’t go down too hard. (Wade) Let me pop a couple Aleve’s [Naproxin] and let’s get going! I do have a bird in there! … I bought it at Costco. (Wade) We want you guys to be light, so you can swing them guns! (John) Hey Steve, I think he pulled one of those mounts down off your cabinet top this morning! (Steve) Somebody’s gotta carry the birds… (Dave) … give them to the old guy. (Steve) Hey, we can keep pushing. We’ll make a swing out take pressure off the field. (Travis) This one’s yours… There he goes! Rooster! Down! Down! Down bird! Rooster! Nice shot! There it goes… Nice! Nice! (John) There you go, Captain Dave! (Steve) Got his own bird! It’s pretty amazing how much ground these dogs can cover… in one session. I mean they’re still going. We’ve… basically walked this entire hundred-acre plot. Just like, Lou, he’s still sprinting around looking for birds. What have we got on the ground? [dogs] We’ve got a 13 year-old, 11 year-old, and an 8 year-old — 8 1/2 year-old. These arn’t “spring chickens” and they’re still going strong. Our dog power is… they’re a little older, but they’re a lot wiser. (John) Yeah, that’s the nice thing.
(Wade) On a lot of birds! This is not this years hatch, this is last year. So, what typically we’ll do is we’ll find these younger birds and when you get an old bird like this here though it’s kind of an honor because he’s already been through one hunting season and he survived, what? 60 days of this season already? … and all the Predators in between. All the predators… you know when you have a habitat like this. That’s why it’s a precious resource of we uh… are really privileged to see these guys and get a chance to hunt them. Yeah, it’s just these dogs are athletes. They’re out in the field .. it’s hard on the hunters to go out there and tromp through the snow and the brush and that type of thing. These dogs are out there, you know, 7, 8, 9 miles… (John) … for every 1 that we do. Sophie… I got a couple Labs. Sophies’ my old girl. She’s 11 years old and we actually weren’t even getting her to be a bird dog. My son just wanted a Lab to have around the house as a pet, so we actually rescued her. We got her though the Humane Society when she was about 11 months old. She had been a little ill treated. She was way under weight, she hadn’t been fed. A vet actually found her tied up to a tree and basically being starved so we went in and got her and really, just bringing her home to be a companion dog. Just happened to have her out in the field kind of playing and ended up figuring out she had some pretty strong prey drive. It’s interesting getting the dogs out there We had Labs, we had Setters, we had German Short-hairs all working the field together today and I thought they did really good! (Steve) I thought they worked good together. Just working back and forth in front of us, honoring each others points and sharing their retrieves well… I thought everything went real good as far as the dog work today. (Dave) It was really enjoyable. Great time and you know… you really laid out the hunt and what to expect as far as how to work the field. I was really impressed, because a lot of times when I go Grouse hunting up in Northern Minnisota It’s just jump out of the truck and start hunting. This was kind of neat, you really had a… (Steve) A strategy? (Dave) … I mean, you called it. As we got to the corner of the field and that type of thing… (John) … and get ready! (Wade) Steve and I do a lot of guiding down at Highland with clients, but when you get used to… that’s kind of what you do with people that are there to hunt is to try to… having worked those fields before and knowing the tendencies of the birds to be able to direct hunters to what’s going to be our best opportunity to get on a bird. I’m pretty pleased, I don’t know what you guys were expecting, but I thought it went pretty well. We’ve done a few of these in the past someday you go, “Wow. I hope we got two birds up today.” The last wild bird hunt we did in fact, down in Southern Iowa, I think we saw maybe 2 or 3 roosters the whole day. Luckily we got two of those off a dog point. That just tells you, depending on where you are in the particular conditions you may get a lot of birds, or you may get only a few. But, that’s why we do it I guess! (Wade) The last ten years have been difficult for those of us that treasure days spent hunting wild Iowa pheasants. Continued public education and awareness about the impact of habitat loss hopefully encourages more Iowa landowners to join the preservation of this wonderful game bird.