Exactly 7 days after the 20 degree pheasant opener, I headed back to north-central Montana to explore a new area – but this time is was 80 degrees and not even the slightest breeze – a bit too warm in my opinion. I took my 12 year old daughter along on this hunt (my son caught a cold on the opener and stayed home). She took her hunter safety class back in September (along with my wife and 11 yr. old daughter – all passed!) – so she is now an officially licensed hunter. She was a bit nervous to be on her first hunt – and she is a bit of a worrier. I think she was afraid that she would accidentally shoot her dad and be stranded out in the middle of nowhere :) So, she decided to carry an unloaded shotgun around all day. She had some shells in her vest, but never loaded any in the gun. I didn’t pressure her on this – I knew she was worried and didn’t want to push her past her comfort level. First and foremost, I wanted to make sure she had a good time and a good first hunting experience.
Turns out, her unloaded shotgun was just as effective as my loaded gun. We worked through a large Pheasants Forever piece of land north of Denton, MT that surrounds a stretch of Coffee Creek. It looked like great bird country, but we didn’t find much – only kicked up 1 hen and 1 rooster. The rooster flushed a ways out, and we never got a shot on him. Towards the end of the hunt, I climbed up a hill and looked toward the back of the PF property and saw a large food plot and shelter belt that we didn’t even get to. I’m guessing that most hunters (like us) get worn out before they ever even get that far back on the land – so I will definitely be headed back to this piece to work it again with a slightly different strategy – and hopefully on a day that isn’t so warm.
After we hunted the PF plot, we drove around and checked out a couple other pieces of state lands and BMA’s (block management areas). We saw several other pheasants and some sharptails, but never got close enough to shoot anything. Given the temperature and dry conditions, all the birds were running well ahead of us – and we could never get in front of them. By the end of the day, dad, daughter and dogs were all dead tired. But it was a great daddy-daughter trip, she had a lot of fun and is now bugging me to go out again. I’ll call that a successful hunt.
I started out the day wearing a Filson Upland Shooting Shirt, but quickly shed that and just went with a short-sleeve t-shirt. I stowed the shooting shirt in my Mother Day Pack which worked well. I was carrying quite a bit of water for myself, dogs and daughter, and the Mother pack did wonderfully. Too bad I didn’t get to really load it up with some birds. My daughter was wearing a Gamehide Youth Vest and some Gamehide Youth Chaps. The chaps are one-size-fits-most, and she’s got some skinny legs, so they were a bit baggy in the thigh, but otherwise worked great. We pushed through some pretty thick stuff and she never complained once of getting poked or pricked.