The weather for hunting pheasants was ideal with the temperature on Friday reaching 70 degrees and Saturday and Sunday a bit cooler with temperatures in the high 50’s.
The warmer weather was a far cry from the 16-below-zero we had a couple of years ago when we made the trip in the first week of December.
Our first-day crew of Tom Flynn, Doug Long, Steve Bushman, Bill Dasinger, Jens Gran and Ted Toavs fared better than the larger crew that we hunted with the second day. After the first day of hunting we ended up with 17 pheasants. The second day had a lot of missed shots and only 10 birds to show for our effort.
You can view the results and a short video of our two day hunt log onto to www.montanaoutdoor.com.
The pheasant population seems to be down considerably from the high we experienced for that area when we hunted just five years ago. There are still enough birds in the area to keep a hunter and his dogs interested.
But the winter and spring weather that Northeastern Montana has experienced over the last couple of years has been a contributing factor to the population decline. The local hunters also tell me that the area draws quite a few hunters the first two weeks of the season and they put a lot of pressure on the birds too!
If you are interested in making a hunting trip to the area on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, then you will need a reservation license to pheasant hunt. The cost for this license is $45 for pheasants and $5 for a conservation license, unless you are a senior citizen like my friend Jens when you will pay only $35. The license is good for the season.
The main suggestion that I might offer is to buy a map of the reservation and know what is public and private. Spend a day driving around to get to know the land and ask permission as you go. Then make a plan for the next few days of where you will be hunting.
It is a big area with so much great habitat that it is easy to get side-tracked while you are hunting during the day.
The sharp-tailed grouse population is still trying to rebound after a couple of tough winters. The sharpies aren’t everywhere like they used to be but when you find them you will see flocks of 50 to 100 birds.