Utah Pheasant Hunt Opener 2019

Me and the hounds with our opening day bird.
Last weekend was the 2019 pheasant hunt opener. It was a chilly morning with temps in the low 20's. We hiked out to some spots where we've had success in years past but discovered other hunters have found our favorite spots as well. There was a lot more competition for spots than we've experienced previously. Birds were pressured and were moved out of this public area rather quickly. We ended up behind a large group of hunters and were forced to hit areas that are historically less productive. However, there wasn't a whole lot of shooting from that group either, for some reason either pheasant numbers are down or the added pressure in that area has pushed them out.

We hunted hard and walked several miles through nasty lakeshore and swamp type covers. I stupidly fell through a patch of ice and ended up in knee-deep water. There's nothing like wringing out wet socks while sitting on frozen mud in freezing temps. It was pretty uncomfortable for a minute but I eventually warmed back up. My boots took about 4 days to completely dry out. My boots are in need of some TLC, the leather is so stiff, dry and hard that I'm risking it cracking if I don't take care of them.  I may want to invest in some rubber boots to wear in these areas. 

About 9 am I split off from the rest of our group and went into a field where we've found birds before. I made a big circle around the outside perimeter with the thought that I'd circle and hopefully push birds in towards the middle of the area. After my sweep on the edges we would push the center areas. About half way through the area I could tell Hazel was tracking a bird. She was trailing and pushing for about a hundred yards when we started moving close to a large cut brush pile. Hazel became more intense the closer we got and I knew we had a bird on the run. Hazel pinned it up against that brush pile and just after she locked up on point the bird flushed directly into the sun. I paused on pulling the trigger because I couldn't quite tell if it was a rooster or a hen. When it got out a ways I realized it was a rooster and I had blown my chance. When it flushed it felt like a rooster, the silhouette had all the signs of a rooster but I held off to be sure. I was pretty bummed. We continued to work the perimeter and were coming back around the top edge near the spot I had entered the field when Chief and Hazel both go on point. As I approached Hazel moved and Chief broke down as well. Chief headed East and Hazel kept snuffling around the spot. About 15 yards from the spot they were initially pointing up pops a rooster. I missed with my first shot from my Franchi 48-AL but the second shot caught the bird and brought it down. It was still very much alive and running through an open area looking for a hideout spot but Hazel was soon on his tail and the old girl was able to chase it down.  It was a fun little sequence and I believe it may of been the same bird we initially put up but that's kind of hard to be too sure about.

Not much happened the rest of the day. We got into some quail but it was in some thick olive trees and no-one was able to connect on the little buzz bombs.

Overall it was an enjoyable day even if we didn't see much. The dogs took a beating though. Pheasant hunting in this area is rough on them. Ol' Hazel has been sore all week and is just starting to move right. Chief was limping for a day and suffered a couple nasty barb-wire cuts that I've been nursing all week. The cuts are healing up nicely and he seemed to bounce back from whatever was bothering his foot. He's prancing around today watching my pigeons circle the house. We'll be heading out again in the morning to a new spot. Hopefully our luck improves.

Dogs anticipating the tailgate drop


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