I had visions of limits of Huns, chukar and valley quail as I drove to Idaho. I'd heard good reports for all three species prior to leaving home and after a couple of hunts in Oregon and Nevada, I felt I knew enough about the birds to do well.
Well, I didn't know squat. We did really well on valley quail, but Huns and chukar had been disappointing. Bone tired disappointing.
But then there were pheasants. On public land! One mourning while chasing quail, Bo flushed seven different roosters! The rub was that pheasant season wouldn't open for two more days and then for the first five days of the season, it was resident only.
So I took a few days off to rest up and visit family in Pocotello. I was back at the public the 6th day after opening with hopes of a three rooster daily bag limit to make up for my empty chukar dreams. We worked all the public cover hard for several hours without moving a single rooster. I knew someone had been hunting since I left as there were empty shotshells and boot tracks in the sandy soil. But for what Bo and I lacked in chukar skills we more than made up for with pheasant know how.
I reasoned that the surviving roosters had been pushed onto a private marsh across the road and hadn't yet returned to feed on the dry public side. We took a break for lunch and waited for mid-afternoon. Rested and with renewed confidence, I set out to patrol the bordering fenceline and Bo dashed into a patch of tall willows. I tried to position myself to cover any roosters that would likely attempt to escape to the private and also have an opening through the trees for any flying deeper into the public. A few hens flew towards the private that may have had a rooster in their midst, but I couldn't be sure, when a cackling rooster topped the willows heading deeper into the public. Just as I shot, I heard another rooster on the far side heading for private! The first bird tumbled back into the trees as I swung into the sun on the second rooster. But I hurried the shot and missed.
Bo was back with her prize and prancing in the direction the second rooster flew. It took awhile to convince her that daddy missed and there was only the one bird to retrieve, but it was an unexpected bonus bird on her first trip to Idaho.