Tag Archives: pheasant hunting

A Hunting I Will Go

I don’t do it as much as I used to, but this coming Wednesday a hunting I will go.

A decade and more ago I used to go pheasant hunting fairly often. I’ve been to a number of the places around here that offer controlled pheasant hunts. Been to a couple of hunt clubs and have had the opportunity to do a few of the free upland game hunts on property that is set aside for that purpose.

In the last 9 years I think I’ve gone pheasant hunting 3 times. Two of those were on what are called cleanup days. You get to go for free on a few days after the season ends, but your chances of getting birds without a dog are next to nil.

This is controlled pheasant hunting. Birds are released the morning of the hunt. Not ideal, but around here you take what you can get.

Years ago I would go by myself on weekdays when everyone else had to work. Though I’ve never had a dog to hunt with, I never went home without a bird. I’m persistent and like I do with my fishing, I learn the nature of the beast. Where they lie, how and why they fly, what makes them jumpy and it seems to work.

One of the reasons I haven’t gone much in years is the cost. I had no choice but to go into austerity mode financially and my conscience won’t allow me to spend money frivolously when there are bills to be paid.

Though things aren’t great financially at the moment, they’re the best they’ve been in the past five years. To the point where I check my account and, well hell, look at that, a few extra bucks.

I have one vacation day left this year and had no clue what I was going to do with it. I still can’t get used to taking days off of work and they actually pay me to go away. My boss finds it humorous.

I decided to use that last vacation day to go pheasant hunting, but now there was the cost. Once you’re in austerity mode it’s a flat out bitch to think outside of it. I agonized for a week on whether to spend the few bucks it would take for the opportunity to try to shoot a few birds.

My wife finally chimed in…

“Will you just fucking go, you know you want to.”

That snapped me out of it, for the most part.

So Wednesday, the day has been taken off, I paid enough for the possibility of three birds and a hunting I will go.

I know the place where I’ll be going well. I spend a lot of time there wandering around. I know where the birds congregate, where the other hunters push them, I know which way the wind will be blowing that day and I know how to take advantage of how others around me are hunting.

Last week after shooting time ended I went for a walk at the state park. I hiked along a trail to a stretch I always thought looked birdie. I walked in noisily for about 20 feet, then stopped and didn’t make a sound.

A few seconds later a rooster blew up not twenty feet from me.

I could have hit it with a rock.

I still had the touch.

Now I have a decision to make. Do I use the 80 plus year old 12 gauge, no name, single shot, pipe on a stick that is deadly accurate and hurts like hell when you pull the trigger.

Or do I use the Remington Wingmaster Model 870 twenty gauge pump that’s an absolute joy to shoot.

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I think I’ll bring both. I plan on being out there for quite some time since I have the time. Use one for part of the day, then switch.

I’m confident my shooting skills are still up to par.

We shall see.

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Deer Hunting at Silver Springs?
Might want to have a Plan B

Archery deer season ends January 15, 2012, but at Silver Springs State Park it pretty much ended in November.

Because I am currently unemployable and have time on my hands to kill, by 3 PM every day I’m buggy and wander the five minutes down the road to Silver Springs State Park for a walk. I also check in to see how the pheasant hunters have been doing and if there is anyone out deer hunting. I seem to do this at least every other day.

With the mild December weather we’ve had, the pheasant hunting has been pretty good. I noticed that practically every one on the list gets their limit of birds. There’s a sign on the bulletin board saying that this year has seen a record harvest of birds. You feel sorry for the occasional hunter on the list that records a zero for the day.

According to my only source at Silver Springs, Larry is his name, there are fewer hunters getting out. He said that there was only one day where they couldn’t let all the standby hunters go out. Getting out on standby here used to be pretty rare. The afternoon hunts seem to also always have open slots, but they don’t allow standby hunts in the afternoon for some reason.

Up until the day after Christmas, I can’t recall seeing more than a half dozen deer hunters on the list. 10 deer hunters are allowed out at a time. The day after Christmas the list was filled twice. Twenty hunters had got out and a few were still out in the woods for the sunset hunt.

The areas set aside for deer hunting at Silver Springs are pretty small. Most of the land is set aside for pheasant hunting and another big area doesn’t allow hunting of any kind. The day after Christmas was the first time I had noticed, stuck to the bulletin board, a deer harvest list. I forgot to write down the exact numbers, but for October about 5 deer were taken. For November I recall only 5 or 6 deer taken with the last one on the 24th.

For December, only one doe was taken and that was on the 18th. Considering the amount of pressure these small areas get, that didn’t surprise me. I also drive through Silver Springs on a regular basis on my way to other places. Along the road, through the areas where you can only bird hunt or not hunt at all, I regularly see deer. In the surrounding areas, I see deer out wandering around all the time. A friend that regularly explores the nearby Hoover Forest Preserve has been posting pictures of quite a few deer in the preserves, including a nice shot of a good sized buck. Of course, you can’t hunt in the preserves.

It’s impossible to tell where they are coming from, but someone has been getting deer in the area. So far this year, dumped on the edges of the hunter parking lots at Silver Springs, have been the remains of seven butchered deer. One deer, a doe, was never butchered. It had been gutted then dumped about 20 feet off one lot. Seems like such a shame to waste all that good meat.

For the remainder of the deer season, if I were a deer hunter, I would find someplace else to go. I have a feeling the chances of getting a deer at Silver Springs aren’t going to improve.

For the pheasant hunters, Silver Springs is one of the Public/Private Partnership Sites run by T. Miller. Hunting for birds will continue there till January 8th. Since the other Chicago area controlled pheasant hunting areas are shutting down, a quick check of the T. Miller site shows that there are no more permits available. Up until now, there were quite a few permits that could be had up until the last minute. If you really want to get out and don’t live that far, it might be worth going on standby.

You just never know.