It was opening day of the prairie grouse season in South Dakota, but I'd already been hunting for a few days in Nebraska. Just a couple of days earlier I shot a limit of chickens and a fall turkey in the same day. I took it easy the next day and hunted sharptails. I shot a couple and ate them for dinner that night to leave room for another limit of prairie grouse just in case I got lucky in South Dakota and had time to hunt more chickens in Nebraska.
The evening before opening I was driving around some Walkin in central SD and wasn't impressed for chickens. There was no crop land for miles. I hurried to another area and noticed a farmer putting up sileage. He was very nice and turned out that his son owned the land I had just left and he said there were a lot of grouse but hardly any chickens. I told him I was heading to another area, and the farmer said that he owned those fields and again, no chickens. He suggested that I would have to go further west or south. By the time I left him, it was dark and I just settled in by the lake for the night.
Opening mourning, I hunted his son's ground and flushed sharptails, pheasants, bobwhites, turkey, deer, ducks and geese, but no chickens. I decided to head west and soon realized I was near some private ground that had been suggested for me to contact. The farmer was home, gave me permission to hunt and even rode with me to suggest several pastures for me to hunt.
I dropped him off at his home in time for lunch and headed to an alfalfa field that I felt held my best chance for birds. I was back at my truck 20 minutes later with a three bird limit of chickens. For the first time in years, I carried my old Weatherby pump. It was very late in the day to be hunting with a two shooter and expect to take a couple of limits of prairie grouse.
In a low corner out of the wind, I walked into a scattered flock of about a dozen chickens. First a pair flushed and I dropped the first bird, then missed. I turned as birds were flushing on all sides of me and swung on another chicken and missed twice. There was a straggler still in range and I hit that bird hard. Then another bird flushed behind me and I turned and killed that one with my last shell. It wasn't pretty shooting but I found all three chickens dead. With my vest full of birds I flushed two more single chickens on my way back to my truck.
A Thank you!" at the farmer's door, and an invitation to return anytime, and I was on my way to Nebraska. I was a lot further from the CRP Map ground I intended to hunt but I really had nothing to lose. I did know that if I came up short, I'd have to eat any Nebraska birds so I could try again on Sunday.
I needn't have worried. I did miss my first chicken in Nebraska and with only a small ridge at the back of the field left to hunt I was pretty certain that there would be no double limit this day. Then a single chicken flushed just a few feet in front of me and I hit it hard. I don't like doing that, but I really couldn't afford the time to search for a cripple. On the far ridge, just a few yards from the border fence the largest flock of chickens I found on my whole trip stagger flushed around me. I had my eye on a left right pair but they were too near to shoot even with a cylinder bore. Just as I decided they were far enough away, more birds flushed between me and the pair. I pulled off the birds and noticed another pair at about 20 yards, to my right. I shot the far bird first and swung on the near bird. It faltered at my shot angling to the ground so I shot it again. Prairie grouse are notoriously easy to find even when crippled and without a dog. But I wasn't taking any chances. As much as I hate overkilling a bird, I wasn't going to try to duplicate a day like this ever again if I could help it.
Two state daily bag limits, six greater prairie chickens in the same day!