All Poodle Pheasant Hunt SD '06
During the summer of '06, I got to know Blair Jackson through the internet concerning our mutual interest in Poodles. Blair purchased poodle pup, Bella, from a local breeder hoping she might turn into a hunting dog for his hobby as well as being the ideal house companion for his wife Sandy and son Seth. Things have worked out much better then he ever thought it could, see the results above. Blair took the picture. From top left to right are me, please note my orange hat is in my hand, Jim Kosboth's son, a promising young baseball player, and Jim, the land owner, retired military and competitive shooter. Bottom, left to right are Tony, his poodle Lambeau, my Scout, Seth, pup Bella, and finally my Beau.
Shortly after purchasing Bella, Blair and Seth stopped in to see Helen and me in Minocqua while they were visiting Sandy's folks just down the road a bit here in WI. They brought Bella along to meet our two poodles, Beau and Scout, and to see what I thought her future might be hunting,
We went down to the lake with all three poodles to see what Bella's reaction to water would be.. She willingly followed as both Blair, Seth, and my two poodles all went in for a swim. She swam for a long time and liked it. Back at the house I got out some pheasant wings. She went nuts retrieving them. Blair left with a big grin on his face.
I'm not sure who thought of it but the idea of a SD all poodle hunt came up sometime later, that also included Blair's long time friend, Anthony Newman, from MN, and Lambeau, Tony's hunting poodle. After lots of planning and research by Blair ferreting out hunting spots the "All Poodle Pheasant Hunt" materialized that November.
Blair thought his local newspaper, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, might be interested in doing a story on the "All Poodle Pheasant Hunt." He contacted them to see and sure enough they were interested. The author of the resulting article, Ben Shouse, and his photographer Lloyd Cunningham met us for our first hunt in Freeman, SD. at 10:30 AM. Hunters present were Blair, Jim Kostboth, Tony, me, and Seth only to help drive, not shoot. We hunted a large well used Public Hunting Ground for about 2 hours with the reporter and photographer before they left to meet the deadline for writing and publishing the article. Unfortunately, while they were present all we were able to flush was several hens. I think all the roosters had been harvested. However, the reporter and photographer were impressed with the enthusiasm and drive all the poodles showed working difficult cover. They took several pictures prior to starting the PHG actual hunt. The article with me, Beau and Scout, showed up on the front page of the Argus Leader the last day of our hunt.
Once left to our own devices, Blair's next plan changed things dramatically. The rooster harvest improved immensely. We met up with a local farmer and to our surprise 3 of his friends. This hunt was on private land . I think the friends were there to scrutinize the poodles as hunting dogs and to possibly laugh about it once we'd left. I'm sure they went home at the end of the hunt with no thought of denigrating poodles as pheasant dogs. We finished with 13 roosters and two hungarian partridge, better known as huns.
The next day we met Jim Kosboth and his son at their privately owned quarter section, 5 shooters and 4 poodles. This is where Bella shinned. At 8 months of age she hunted hard, scent trailed, flushed, and found her share of downed roosters. She wasn't sure about picking them up but found them in heavy cover and waited at the spot for Blair or Seth to arrive. On the last drive with Jim posting ahead he downed 3 roosters but wasn't able to find any until the dogs arrived. Lambeau found the first one still alive and buried where it never would have been discovered. Beau found another and Jim's son luckily stepped on the last one before the dogs got there. We took the above picture with 10 of the roosters. Five had already been left at the vehicles. It took us about 2 hours to limit out. Yes, there were lots of roosters, BUT, finding them once down without the poodles, several were runners, would have left us short of our limit with many birds gone to waste. "Conserve game, hunt with good dogs." Hunters hear and read that statement a lot. Our poodles more then proved it right this day.
On our last day hunting, down to just Blair, Tony, and myself, again 4 poodles; Seth had to stay home to do school work. We hunted private land near Howard. It was tough hunting, all most all in standing corn. We had one big number flush with everyone shooting at once. There were lots of misses. After that it was a single here and there leaving us short of our limit and wondering where to try next. With only an hour left of legal shooting Blair suggested one of his secret spots. He dropped Tony and I off. Then drove ahead to wait and pick us up. I went one way with Beau and Scout, Tony and Lambeau another. In less then half a mile I had 2 birds, missed a third, all flushed by good dog work out of head high cat tails, the last wing tipped and run down in a picked corn field by Scout. While the 3 of us walked back to the vehicle Lambeau flushed the final rooster, downed with nice shooting by both Tony and Blair. Not bad for half an hours hunt.
All in all the poodles did themselves proud. I have to sincerely thank Blair for planning a very successful hunt and his wife Sandy for putting Tony and I up, feeding us, and treating us like family. It was a truly fabulous hunt, hopefully to be repeated. My only regret is not having the out going State Senator, Lee Schoenbeck, of Watertown, whose opinion of poodles mentioned in the Argus Leader article, didn't see our 4 hunt tough cover. I'm confident it would have improved his opinion of poodles as hunting dogs. We hope to have the article on this site sometime in the future.