Seems Black Friday holds a tradition for most. Head to the store if you enjoy shopping, or head to the fields if you enjoy pheasants. While I'm sure there were some great deals out there this past Friday, I decided to drop my Thanksgiving poundage by walking the fields instead of the mall isles. I have been told that the malls are crazy hectic on this special day, but my Black Friday tradition says the same for us hunters. The fields are crowded. Public land or not, you can expect to see orange moving through the prairie grass.
This past Friday I was joined by one heck of a hard-core hunter. Some call him "Lum," some call him "Phillip," but his real name is Mike. Nevertheless, this hunter invited me to join him and a couple of buddies for a late season rooster hunt. Fresh off of a Rooster Bonanza weekend a few days previous, he was pretty darn excited to hit the fields that morning. As we waited for our 9 A.M. start time, we could see the birds flying back and forth to find their resting spot for the day. With the anticipation mounting, and a pup that has no patience whining in the back of the truck, we gathered our gear.
If you are familiar with late season pheasant hunting, then you know that these birds are smart and skittish. That was exactly the case for us. It seemed with each step we could see a rooster take flight. Certainly out of reach of our bird shot, they flew further into the thick cover. Within minutes we knew this wasn't going to be easy. "No worries, Just cool to see that many birds in the air," I told Mike. It took a while to get our rhythm down, and a few hens to scare us straight before we found our mark. Rooster number one was a beaut!
The land that he and his buddy Kris had been developing for the past couple of years has turned out well. The birds were there, and their efforts had already started to pay off. Not to mention the deer calling this new piece of paradise home. Yep, the new trees had taken hold, but the bucks have rubbed them to the ground. "Oh well, that's what we planted them for," Mike joked!
Our morning was going well, we added another Rooster to our bag before things took a turn. A turn that nobody likes to witness on their property. The dogs had found something, only it wasn't a rooster. As we approacheda fresh deer kill, something didn't seem quite right. This deer didn't die of natural causes, but had no visible marks from a hunter or coyotes either. What had happened? Well, a little research revealed the worst. A trail camera had been set up overlooking a food plot on the property. Upon looking at the pictures, the fork horned buck was alive 3 days earlier enjoying the green growth. Then pictures revealed trespassers, and if that wasn't bad enough, the buck was examined only to find bird shot in the deer's head and neck. So not only did somebody trespass on Kris's property, they also illegally poached a deer as well.
"That's tough to see," said Kris, after passing up that buck a dozen times with his slug gun. "Just makes me sick to my stomach." And it rightfully should! The rest of the day wasn't quite the same, and Kris and his father Ken went home after that. Mike and I stuck it out for a bit, but never found our rhythm. We saw a few more birds, and put a third rooster in our pouch, but the day still left a bad taste in our mouth. To make matters even worse, I received a call from Mike the next day stating that the trail camera had now been stolen off the property as well. I guess the mystery is still unfolding. This is just a bad situation altogether. A Black Friday hunt that turned out to be a very Black Friday.