By Chris Schultz Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn. Dec. 18, 2000
Deer provide memorable outdoor experience
Deer provide memorable outdoor experienceIt was cold, the snow was deep, and for Pat Feltmann of Lester Prairie, and myself, it was a last hurrah at Minnesota pheasant hunting for the 2000 season.
Like previous November hunting trips, we headed out to far western Minnesota to hunt big tracts of public land and huge cattail sloughs. Previous late season trips had provided many birds seen and limits in the bag with little to no pressure from other hunters. We expected the same on this trip, our last of the season.
Pat and I share similar hunting styles and usually team up a few times late in the season. We depend heavily on our dogs and basically, go where they go.
We scout, then pick a spot and split up. I go where Angus goes and Pat goes where his German Shorthair, Merv, goes. We each hunt quietly and follow the dog without a yell or a whistle through thick and thin. From years of experience, I have learned it is the best and most efective way to hunt spooky late season roosters.
On this particular trip, after some lengthy discussion, we picked an area and headed out. Pat headed west to an area of standing corn, tree lines and small pockets of cattails. I headed east to a small grove of trees, heavy brush lines and a huge cattail slough that took up more ground than many smaller Minnesota towns.
The slough was big, much bigger than anything I wanted to tackle or let Angus take off in. My goal was to hunt the brushy edges, pick up two birds, and enjoy watching hundreds of other pheasants sail into the slough.
My plan started out fine. After a few minutes of busting cover, Angus was birdy and holding in heavy cover. Three roosters busted from that spot, and after watching in amazement at the size of one of them, I only managed to bag one smaller ringneck.
The blasts from my 20-guage then created an explosion of pheasants from the area in front of me. Bird after bird headed for the big slough. So many that I couldn't help but head into the sea of cattails - that's when the adventure started.
Fifteen minutes later and about 75 yards into the slough, Angus was going nuts, and pheasants were continually flushing 50 or more yards in front of me. Deer were popping up in ones and twos, chasing more birds deeper into the slough. After traveling about another 50 yards, I hit the herd, or what some of my hunting buddies would call "the mother load."
By this time, deer were confusing me and I had lost track of Angus several times. On occasion, I wasn't sure if I was following Angus or a whitetail.
I caught a glimpse of Angus crossing a deer trail. Then, when I looked up, there they were - deer, deer, and more deer only yards away. I counted 16 heads looking right at me and standing on the trail.
As those deer moved down the trail, a herd of what had to be more than 70 deer launched from the cattails in front of me and headed deep into the slough. At that moment, I felt surrounded by deer and like I was in a spot that was reserved only for things wild and primordial.
I etched the moment in my mind, found the dog, and in a big hurry headed out of the slough.
On the way back to the truck, I bagged one more rooster my last of the season, near the same spot I got the first one of the day.
A last-of-the-season pheasant hunt that will be long remembered.
The Wright County Chapter of Pheasants Forever have scheduled corn giveaways for pheasants and wildlife on Saturdays Jan. 20 and Feb. 17, at Lampi's Auction, located at Hwy. 55 and Wright Co. Rd. 6. Corn will be available from 8 to 11 a.m. or until the corn is gone. Please bring your own containers. Quantities may be limited due to demand.
For additional information, call 320-274-CORN (2676).
The Lester Prairie Sportsmen Club has scheduled snowmobile classes for Jan. 10, 17, and 24, with Jan. 27 set as the test date.
Classes will begin at 6 p.m. Jan. 10 with registration. A parent or guardian's signature is required at registration.
Class time is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. the remaining class nights.
- Bait shops and anglers from the area are reporting 12 inches or more of good solid ice on most of the lakes in the area. On Howard, small sunnies are hitting in the bay and on the north end. The walleye bite is slow, but consistant, with a few big fish coming off last week. A few crappies are coming off Dog Lake, and Lake Ann is producing a few walleyes.
- Also, the season of fish house vandalism has started. Reports say several houses on Dog Lake have been broken into, a few on Lake Ann, and a few anglers with houses on little Waverly Lake have found their houses pulled off the lake and left in the ditch somewhere.
- Winter officially begins Thursday, Dec. 21.
Minnesota's 2000 pheasant hunting season closed Sat., Dec. 17. Look for a full report on the season in next week's column.
- Anglers from the area have also reported that although fish are biting, they are biting very light and have been tough to catch. When the fish are biting light and taking minnow after minnow, switch to a smaller hook, keep it sharp, and use a lower weight line.
- Enjoy the season and please remember that no ice is ever completely safe.