Well, another hunting season has come and gone, as pheasants wrapped up this past weekend.  At the begging of the season, it was my goal to soak up as much knowledge as possible from friends at Scheels.  I attended product training sessions prior to the season and learned so much.  Everything from e-collars, to using the best gear and equipment, and even some tricks of the trade to put more birds in the bag.

My season started by chasing Wood Ducks and it was a humbling experience.  Even with my Scheels Wood Duck decoys, I learned quickly how smart Wood Ducks really are.  We targeted them several times and managed a few most outings.  My son even shot his first which was a thrill for us both.  About the time we had the birds patterned, we received that first cold snap of the year and that sent most of them south.  Wood Ducks are some of the earliest birds to migrate.

We then concentrated on the rest of the waterfowl world.  My two favorite ways to hunt ducks would be field hunting and then hunting divers out of my boat.  Well, as you know the crops were slow to come off this year because of all the moisture.  That really limited my field hunting opportunities.  I never did shoot a duck in the field.  We did target divers a couple of times with limited success.  Next year I plan to have a blind for my new boat to help the cause.

Probably the highlight of my waterfowl season was hunting Canada geese.  My buddies Shawn and Zach set me up on a couple of awesome cornfield hunts.  I've never seen honkers decoy like that before.

As for my beloved pheasants...Well, we put a lot of miles on this fall.  Opening day, Steve Bakken & I hit SW ND and never saw a pheasant.  Again, the corn, beans & flowers made it very difficult.  Not to mention, 17 inches of snow that fell.  That's three straight years of big snowfalls in October.  It's getting to be the new norm.  My son and I had a good day the following day as we traveled further west and scored one of two limits we shot all year.  My buddy Mike really hooked us up.  The rest of the season was pretty difficult with pheasants spending most of their time in the un-cut cornfields.  I spent a lot of time consulting with my friend Dan Clark from Scheels, and he was having the same problems.  The last couple of weeks over the holidays, I did manage to find a few birds in some new areas.  Even hunted pheasants with my buddy Kelly in the SE with snow up to our eyeballs in the cattails.  I finished the season with a very pedestrian 22 pheasants.

All in all it was a tough season, but even a bad day hunting is better than the best day at work right?  Well, maybe not in my profession, but still fun.  The one big change this season was fewer and fewer times in the field with my son.  It really made me sad.  He's in High School now and playing hockey for the Bismarck Demons.  Sports takes up a lot of his time.  I've been dragging him along on hunting trips since he was two.  It was a sobering reminder that no doubt my time with him will continue to get shorter and shorter.  Something I wasn't prepared to deal with emotionally yet, as I still think of him as my little boy.

Well, the great thing about living in Bismarck is that hunting season really never has to end.  Spring Snow Goose season will be here soon, and in the meantime I plan to do a lot of scouting this winter.  Not to mention spend a lot of time at Scheels preparing for next season.  I can't wait!