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Frozen Pheasant

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March 27, 2002

by Rob Kjos

Saturday, March 9th, I wake up to 18 degrees and 30 mph winds gusting to 50 mph. We had just had a day of freezing rain followed by a light snow. I’m in Minnesota for a few more weeks until work picks up in our beautiful Clark Fork Valley. I’ve been invited to go on an afternoon pheasant hunt on a game farm down by LeSueur, Minnesota.

    When my eyes opened at 5:30 in the morning, as they always do, I checked weather, out of habit, but there was no doubt in my mind that the hunt was still on. After all, I grew with most of these guys here in the heartland of America, and I knew them to be diehard outdoor sportsmen.

    As a promotion by Lampert’s Lumber, Russ Sirek, had invited us on this little hunt since my friend, Jim, buys building materials from Lamperts……(There must be a recession going on here too. Seems to me Jim used to get a trip to Mazatlan once in a while). At any rate there will be five of us this afternoon, enjoying some Minnesota weather and hunting camaraderie…Russ Sirek, Jim, Mike and Pat Bullard and myself..

    On the way down to LeSueur visibility was down to zero at times, caused by the blowing snow. I thought I heard Mike mutter the word “crazy” but I’m sure he was referring to the few other drivers we saw out on those roads.

    My friends had three golden retrievers along….Ed, Stella and Corky. All with various levels of experience. It was great fun watching those dogs work. They were following their noses or their master’s commands, racing back and forth out in front, circling to get upwind, usually not more than 20 yards out. They are good dogs. They only went over the hill once, for just a little while.

    Southern Minnesota has gotten very little snow this winter. There were just a few inches on the ground and drifts here and there, so it's easy walking in the stubble and brush fields. All the small growth was coated with ¼” of ice and would break up into little pieces when touched. Kind of like my cheeks felt.

    The pheasants were mostly burrowed into the snow to escape the wind, so those dogs had their work cut out for them. But their enthusiasm was unmatched and their noses worked pretty well too. Watching those dogs work brought on a few boyhood memories of other dogs, and ponds, and hardwood forests, and ducks and squirrels, and canoes, and then dinner flew up in my face and all hell broke loose for 30 seconds. This is fun. I’m not cold now, and Pat is fast.

    As we hunted the afternoon away the temperature decreased and the wind increased. It was plumb miserable walking into the wind. But, we were all eager for "one more drive." I’ve noticed it gets that way with fishing too…just one more cast, then I’ll go.

    After much story swapping and so on, and the drive back, I was feeling sleepy and satisfied. But the day was not over. I had birds to clean. Imagine that, 20 years since a pheasant hunt, a borrowed “Weatherby 82” 12 ga., and it all comes back like it was yesterday. Life is good. I’ll be right home.

    Rob Kjos is a building contractor when he isn't out making "one more cast" or "one more drive."


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