Hunting pheasants is always fun, but this year we added some adventure to our annual pheasant hunting trip.
Pheasant hunting has been poor for us close to Missoula, so we made some calls and mapped out a plan that would lead us to better gunning for ringnecks. After all, if you want a successful hunt, you have to go to where the birds are.
A good friendship I made a few years back while walleye fishing at Fort Peck Reservoir in Eastern Montana became a key to the plan. Bill Dasinger, who lives in Wolf Point, mentioned to me during the Montana Walleye Governors Cup tourney this past July that I should come over to do some pheasant hunting.
At the time, my response was that I couldn’t believe that they had any pheasants over at Wolf Point or anywhere else in that part of the state. I guess I had never thought of pheasant hunting over in that area. As it turns out, I couldn’t of been more wrong about their population of pheasants.
The town of Wolf Point, pop. 3000, sits on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Wayne Knudson, of Florence, and I made the 500-mile trip from Missoula last Tuesday to hunt with Dasinger and some area locals.
We had planned to make this a one-and-a-half-day stopover on our way to Bryant, S.D., where we would hunt pheasants with my brother, Dan Ward. Bryant is the town where I grew up with my six other brothers and sisters, so it is also somewhat of annual family reunion as well.
The Wolf Point hunting plans were made because it was simply along the way. After buying a resident pheasant license for the Fort Peck Indian Reservation for $30 which is good for the season, we headed out to hunt some private land.
It was the first time out for the year bird hunting for my dog, Daisy, and I was nervous as I always am on how she would do. Daisy sometimes tends to go way out in front of the hunters once she gets the scent of a bird – far out of shotgun range for the hunters.
Thanks to the thick slough habitat we were working with Dasinger, she stayed close and only sprinted too far out in front a couple of times. The first bird that got up in front of me, I downed with my first shot. So both my dog and I were off to a good start.
So much for good starts. Daisy only got better as the hunt progressed, while my shooting only got worse during the rest of the day and into the next.
We hunted a combination of private and tribal public land over the next couple of days. Most of the hunting took place along the Missouri River bottoms. Those river bottoms held hundreds of pheasants. At one point, right before entering an area we were about to hunt, the pheasants started to talk to each other.
Being from good pheasant country in South Dakota, I have heard this sound before but never as loud and coming from as many birds. Needless to say it really got my heart rate up as my excitement level raced. It was truly great pheasant country.
After that day-and-a-half of hunting, we were kind of sorry that we had not scheduled more time at Wolf Point, because this pheasant hunting was as good as any I have ever experienced.
So if you are a frustrated Montana pheasant hunter and have not had a good hunt since the drought set in a couple of years ago, head for Wolf Point or many of the other communities up and down the eastern part of the state.
From Plentywood and Scobey down to Sidney, you’ll find areas of good habitat, plenty of birds and generally decent access to hunt both private and public lands. I would be willing to bet that Knudson and I might just make it over there again before the season ends in December.
After all, a hunting trip that good shouldn’t be just a stopover – it’s great pheasant hunting in prime country all by itself.