Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.
Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.
Crammed into my GMC will be three middle-aged hunting and fishing buddies, two hunting dogs, six guns, enough ammo to overthrow a small banana republic, boots, blaze, dog chow, groceries, several cases of beer, a lap top, a couple of gallons of venison chili, some fine sipping whiskey, and my last two jars of garden salsa.
The crated dogs will have more freedom of movement and traveling comforts than the hunters. Priorities you know.
We're part of a larger group totaling ten hunters and seven dogs. Taking no chances - this year we have a lawyer AND a doctor in the group.
Where we're going the technology pick n's are rather slim. If I can locate an internet connection I'll update this post with a field report or two. Otherwise, a full report and some pictures will follow early next week.
October 30 - Day One - A travel day.
654.4 miles one-way; and I am suffering from something awful. I was up all night with chills, a splitting headache, aches and pains all-over and a horrific case of nausea. My buddy drove most of the way today and I slept until we were just shy of LaCrosse. Gas in Rochester, MN was $2.06 a gallon! In sleepy little Doland we have an entire house to ourselves, finished basement, grill, kitchen and satellite television. We even have wi-fi but I don't know if it's ours or the neighbors. As I type this the guys are walking to town for dinner and I'm turning-in to see if I can shake whatever has afflicted me. More tomorrow - presuming I can drag myself out of the sack and can catch this signal again.
October 31 - Day Two - First Day Hunting
Sorry about the delayed post. Connectivity issues.
Tough hunting. Hardly any of the corn is off of the fields. It is wet. No, it is soaked. It would seem all of the birds are hanging-out in the corn and until it is picked they're happy to stay in the corn and not the natural cover and bottom lands.
In the AM Girlfriend and I were working a slough and I went into the water and got soaked. In the PM two additional hunters got in too deep
We hunted until shooting time and got eleven birds for our efforts - no lack of effort on our part.
Finished the day with steaks on the grill and all of the fixings.
Trick or treat in Doland tonight. We pooled every last bit of candy we had for the beggars and after it ran out switched to jerky. No complaints.
I'm feeling better but was up last night with the sweats followed by chills, shakes and aching joints. I talked to the doctor this morning over coffee and a cigarette (him not me) and he suggested that I get a Lyme disease screening as soon as I get home. Motrin is my friend.
Here's a picture of Lawyer and Girlfriend
November 1, Day Three - Second Day of Hunting
One of the attractions of South Dakota pheasant hunting is that you cannot possibly start before 10 AM. None of that nonsense of getting-up before daylight and crawling about in the dark to hunt at sun-up while freezing your tushie-off. You get to sleep-in. I slept good.
This was a rather disjointed day of hunting - something that has euphemistically been described as a cluster-free-for-all. It began with Lawyer and I slogging through a mile-long slough with Girlfriend while all of our buddies occupied the dry and easily-traveled high ground.
This was followed by slogging through another mile of soggy corn after which we found-out that one of our buddies lost his truck keys.
I dislike being critical but don't you think that anyone who thinks to pack a back-up shot gun might ALSO think to pack a back-up pair of truck keys and place them in the secure possession of someone else? Sheesh. Hours lost.
From there we figured-out the Hot LZ version of pheasant hunting. Run and gun. Boom boom. Birds down.
Then a long slow slog through a freshly combined field of seeds. That would be a mile square field of picked sunflowers. Imagine a square mile of punji sticks and mud where man and dog run the constant risk of impaling themselves on a freshly-cut stalk - and you walked it in three sweeps. Yikes. We're all grateful that we have our own urologist in the group this year. Did I tell you his name is Richard? He goes by Dr. Dick. Really.
Fifteen birds today - under the legal limit. But as the resident law enforcement officer in our group pointed out - It's hunting, not shooting.
My highlights of the day - Girlfriend reinforced her reputation as Mighty Dog. She made some awesome flushes and even more awesome retrieves. I dropped a couple of birds and I'm feeling terrific (physically-speaking). The doctor now says maybe just a virus but to still get labbed-up for Lyme. The guys have suggested if I need a lab test to just have a couple of the Labrador retrievers give me the once-over sniff test. We'll see.
Good Night from Doland.
November 2, Day Three - Last day of hunting.
Everyone slept-in later today with the time change. The doggies caught some extra sleep-eye which is good.
It was freak'n hot today. Mid-seventies. This is fall pheasant hunting? It is looking like global warming has situated itself into the land of giant wind turbines. These conditions are tough on us old guys and even tougher on the pups.
You know what I've learned in the past 48 hours? Whoever has the highest boots and most enthusiastic dog gets the crappy assignments. So I and a few of my compatriots walked miles of stinking, boot-sucking muck, along with tangles of reed canary grass driving the birds to the guys on the high ground where they were summarily killed. Same for mile-long fields of corn. Back and forth. This sucks. Sigh.
Nonetheless, this was a good day - eighteen birds.
Me and Girlfriend - inseparable.
My highlight of the day was the close encounter with a skunk while making our last drive for birds. Girlfriend got within fifteen feet of a very surprised skunk and I was able to call her off before the varmint raised its tail and sprayed. We both got a strong whiff of the musk but weren't hit. Score: Tom - 1, Skunk - 0. Guess who lived to tell the tale. Girlfriend's highlight of the day was an early-morning roll in a very fresh cow pie. So fresh it was still green. My GMC now smells like stinky hunters, wet dogs and barn yard. Blech.
Incidentally, late today the Acadia has manifested a loud shriek from the right front wheel. Something has lodged itself in between the calipers of the brakes - a tiny stone from driving through all of these God-forsaken suck-holes of mud? It has lessened after driving backwards and hitting the brakes but hasn't gone away.
I'll let you know how I get home.
Good night from Doland.
November 3, Day Four - Travel Day
This has been one of the toughest hunts I've had in quite awhile. We had plenty of time last night and today during the ride home to talk about what worked, what didn't work, what we should have or could have done differently. In the final analysis we all decided to do it again next year. If hunting were easy everyone could do it. Besides, friends and memories are priceless.
Here's the group (we ended-up one short)
About that horrific squealing that was coming from the right front wheel? Here is the culprit-
A piece of South Dakota granite (slightly polished) that had lodged itself behind the brake calipers. The nice guys at Schuchard's Westside GMC Truck in Watertown, SD pulled the wheel and rotor to dislodge it. All at the horrific cost of $12.72. Thanks OnStar for getting us all on a three-way call to drive-in to rectify the problem.
No decent road trip should be without the appropriate road food. Agreed? I know when I travel I always pack some munchies and drinks. Knowing where I was planning to travel TosaGuy gave me a heads-up a couple of weeks ago about a place worthy of a stop. He said - Tom, if you get anywhere close to Brookings, SD you need to go to Nick's.
Thanks TosaGuy. Just so you know, Nick's is remodeling the shop so they had their trailer set-up just next door.
We sat outside on one of Nick's picnic tables and shared a couple of bags of sliders and Diet Cokes. 72 degrees and sunny. Awesome. We've decided to make it a regular stop.