I was living in Minneapolis, MN and dogless. I had recently returned from a prairie grouse hunt in Nebraska and South Dakota and couldn't wait to return. Pheasant season was open in South Dakota and I hoped to maybe shoot a rooster with a limit of grouse.
There was just a skiff of snow as I started weaving through a shelterbelt on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. The head of the res DNR, Noble Jones, suggested that I hunt the windbreak, a couple of center pivots and an overgrown pasture for birds.
I cut a set of pheasant tracks crossing behind me and trailed them to a brush pile. With a kick, a rooster erupted heading over the tree tops for the pivots. I hit him well with a load of Federal Premiums out of my Superposed and watched him fall dead in the trees. I flushed two other roosters and a few hens from the tree line, but they were marginal safe shots so I held off. Afterall, I had my pheasant.
It was gray, windy and cold as I ate a quick lunch in my truck facing a pivot corner. I sat in disbelief as a flock of pheasants coasted over the top of my truck and landed just 50 yards in front of me! I gave them a few minutes to settle in, Then quietly circled to the standing corn and then walked back towards my truck. A lone rooster flushed to my left staying grass high. I hit him and then the rest of the flock flushed around me. I picked out another rooster flying to my right and shot quickly before he crossed in front of my truck and he fell hard as well.
I found both birds dead and left them in my truck to hunt the remainder of the pivot corners for grouse. I walked around three connected pivots before I flushed a pair of grouse, hitting one and missing the other. With one third of my grouse limit I topped the last pivot corner and a small flock flushed within range. I hit a right bird hard and then clipped another with my other barrel. The crippled bird kept up with the flock and sailed out of sight across an open. flat pasture. I picked up the dead grouse and walked and walked that pasture. I knew I would find a lot of grouse in the wild pasture behind the pivots, but first I had to try to find the cripple. I finally gave up after walking a mile and returned to my truck. There was another series of pivots another mile across the pasture so I drove over thinking the flock may have flown there. I did flush a few grouse wild and then worked the grass over really well thinking if the cripple was with them, he could be there in the grass. It was time to write that bird off to the predator gods and try to find a last grouse before dark.
I started on the low, downwind side of a set of hills and let several marginal flushes go simply because I wasn't going to cripple another bird. Then, I got my flush. A pair of grouser at twenty-five yards and crossing left to right. The lead bird fell in a stream of feathers and I was done. A combination limit of pheasants and sharptail grouse on my first day of pheasant hunting in South Dakota and dogless to boot!