Blizzards, Beer and a Pheasant

Usually you expect a fishing report from this blog, however, this weekend I found myself in South Eastern Iowa on a pheasant hunting trip. It was a get together with some of my old college buddies from Northland College in Ashland, WI. We studied together there over twenty years ago! Remarkably, we continue to stay in touch like family and do some really fun trips together.

Although this particular trip has been an annual for over a decade, I’ve never been able to go because it occurs in December. Getting time off from the old retail job during Christmas season was next to impossible. But now with my new career, I gave myself the time off and don’t plan to miss such excursions ever again.

There were eight of us total. We expected more, but the blizzard that ripped through the heartland last week put a damper on some schedules. I lucked out by flying into Minneapolis Thursday night just scathing the huge storm. A couple of the fellas are from MN and asked me to co-pilot their road journey to IA. It was a great idea as we got extra time to catch up and I got to see some country that I rarely get to see.

Our precise destination was Marion, IA at our colleague Mike Birmingham’s family farm. It’s a gorgeous estate where he has turned the farms corn crib into his house. It overlooks the property and at any given moment you could watch whitetails feeding on the edge of the oak forest or pheasants in the snow covered corn fields.

Birmingham greeted us in his driveway with open beers. He was quick to inform us, we’d be drinking quite a few of these because pheasant populations were horrible from consecutive harsh winters and serious floods from last spring. This wasn’t bad news to us for the true meaning of the visit was to catch up with old friends. Two of the gang had been hunting the farm for two days and literally saw one bird. That was enough for me to not even pick up a gun (I’m not a serious hunter or a good one) and let the others get their best shot.

That proved to be a wise decision. Despite spending Saturday on another private farm, only a pheasant and a rabbit were taken amongst the crew all weekend. While most the boys spent their time carrying shotguns and running the dogs, I enjoyed a snowy walk through the oak forests where I jumped the occasional whitetail deer.

Today I’m travelling home and as one can imagine after a weekend of post-holing through deep snow and late evenings with old friends, I’m flat out exhausted. It was a great four days and I look forward to our next get-together. From what I hear, it’s warmed up in ID and I just may sneak over to the South Fork on foot for a couple hours this week to fish some midges. Stay tuned. . .

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