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WyoChukar
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:59 pm  Reply with quote



Joined: 16 Jul 2015
Posts: 940
Location: Hudson,Wy

Okay, I finally took care of my photos from this year's North Dakota foray. Thus I can now give a little story and much imagery.

The impetus was a bit different this year making the gloomy pheasant reports irrelevant. A very close friend of mine is fairly up there in terms of age. More importantly, he has Parkinson's and it has really sank it's claws in over the years. Vince has tried to get me up there early enough to catch the main migration of Sandhill cranes for two decades. Well this year I finally lucked out and my schedule allowed it (a huge relief, you only get so many chances). There were other birds hunted and I hunted two parts of good ole NoDak, but let's start with cranes.

Sandhill cranes have eyes that make eagles seem blind. Add to that a brain. Actually decoying them is nearly impossible unless you use stuffers or the amazing decoys from Deception Outdoors that actually look like the real thing and then there a no guarantees. Both cost a fortune. Vince has a dozen. We made the deadly dozen work amazingly well after changing the way they are deployed. Think lots of space between decoys in little groups and even greater space between groups. I commonly set 12 decoys arranged as two groups plus a pair. The spread was often 50-60 across. Cranes take up a lot of room. Calling was much like calling geese, you gave them what the wanted. It worked! Day after day, cranes dropped feet down. Quite the triumph considering the fact that they often bailed out of a field if you even drove past. They're tricky.

This part of the journey occurred near the Canada border. I enjoyed some great snow goose years up there (didn't hunt waterfowl up there this time) but this was even better. Old friends, some I hadn't seen in ages came from very far away. The weather was nice. Most importantly, I was able to give a dear friend the best crane hunting days of his life.

Also, the hungarian partridge hunting was better than I have ever seen in North Dakota...but that's another page to come. For now: the realm of the crane.
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WyoChukar
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:07 pm  Reply with quote



Joined: 16 Jul 2015
Posts: 940
Location: Hudson,Wy

I should add that crane really is the "ribeye of the sky". I about split in two eating Vince's crane stroganoff. More crane pics:
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WyoChukar
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:30 pm  Reply with quote



Joined: 16 Jul 2015
Posts: 940
Location: Hudson,Wy

Hungarian partridge hunting was okay in the southwest but outstanding up north. I found coveys that not only were fairly reliable, many of them held real tight. Singles were bliss. Back here in Wyo our huns seldom stray off as singles after the covey rise. My Fox 16 was actually overkill many times. The Lefever 12ga. choked XF/ Turkey that I carried for the occasional sharptail was way more than needed.

I was wishing for the Lefever DS 16 with its skeettish choked right barrel backed by an I/M left barrel. I also would have used it on cranes a time or two with steel shot but alas, it was back at home. Dumb move.

Anyway back to huns. Rusty found the little buggers every day. Some days only one covey. On others he found two or three for me, not bad since most hunts were only an hour or so between morning crane hunts, lunch, and scouting for the next day's best decoying options. With phenomenal crane hunting, this was the cherry on top of the sundae. A big cherry it was.

A few coveys were found near abandoned farmsteads and these provided interesting photo opportunities. Note the dates on magazines. I will continue to build this thread as time allows. On deck I have the pheasant and sharp tail grouse portion of the show, but it's getting late for a guy who is going goose hunting early tomorrow. For now, enjoy more hun material!
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67galaxie
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:09 pm  Reply with quote



Joined: 16 Mar 2017
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Location: Valdosta GA

Thanks for sharing and yes I'm jealous
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Dogchaser37
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:53 pm  Reply with quote
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Plus 1

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Dave Erickson
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:25 am  Reply with quote
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You sure take nice pictures.
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studdog
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:03 am  Reply with quote
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Great report! Thanks! How are the Cranes to eat? George

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WyoChukar
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 12:57 pm  Reply with quote



Joined: 16 Jul 2015
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Location: Hudson,Wy

"Ribeye of the sky" pretty much sums Sandhill crane. They are very good eating.

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WyoChukar
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:09 pm  Reply with quote



Joined: 16 Jul 2015
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Location: Hudson,Wy

Sharptail grouse hunting was pretty tough in crane country, one bird was considered a victory. However, the southwest part of the state was about average and that is enough to be happy with. I love hunting Sharptails. They offer something that other birds just don't measure up to. The grouse truly are the prairie experience. Those who travel north and only hunt pheasants are really cheating themselves out of one of life's great joys.

Hunting these birds earlier in the season was a treat. October birds hold a good bit better than November -January birds. Even so, many long shots were taken. That's okay, it makes the close ones that much more enjoyable.

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byrdog
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:35 pm  Reply with quote
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I killed a lot of cranes in AZ. There I could take Greater Sandhill Crane and I had one mounted that hung from the rafters of my log house.So big It would scare children. I built decoys from plywood patterns with foam glued to the sides and carved into various poses. then they were covered with burlap as a skin and feathers. Good crane hunting takes really good decoys, as seasons went by some of the birds got mounted and were added to the decoy flock. My good friend who still lives in AZ has them. He still uses them with great success every season. The best part of this is the table fair.

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wj jeffery 16
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:55 pm  Reply with quote
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Great to see , wonderful photographs , thank you WyoChukar for taking us on your adventure . WJ.
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Hootch
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:06 pm  Reply with quote



Joined: 28 Mar 2008
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Location: Eagle, Nebraska

Love Cranes, hun and sharpie hunting.
What kind of crane decoy is that?
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pbr streetgang
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:20 pm  Reply with quote



Joined: 26 Dec 2006
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Location: At the edge of a Florida marsh

Oh man. Sharpies and North Dakota. Now that sounds like a road trip worth taking. I like that😎

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WyoChukar
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:02 pm  Reply with quote



Joined: 16 Jul 2015
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Location: Hudson,Wy

The crane decoys are made by Deception Outdoors. The price tag is staggering. I don't have any of my own. I am hoping Vince will bequeath his to me someday when the time is right. He takes pity on me once in a while!

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WyoChukar
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:38 pm  Reply with quote



Joined: 16 Jul 2015
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Location: Hudson,Wy

On to the final chapter of my North Dakota wanderings: rooster pheasant. By now it is no secret that pheasant hunting in most of North Dakota rated as dismal. Up by the border I only found one spot with birds and gave it one hunt. I shot two roosters that were so scrawny that the only clue they weren't hens, was a feeble screeching that sufficed as a cackle. Looked more like Perdiz. After that I let them be.

In the lower corner of the state things were better, but still tough. Oddly enough, crowds were an issue. A friend told me they were all gone a week later once word traveled around. If it were't for Rusty being on his "A" game and me being on at least my "B+" game I would have gotten skunked on public ground. I did enjoy two hunts on one buddy's farm that ranked a bit higher. I saw dozens of birds in one cornfield. Of course that was only a drop in the bucket compared to the glory days there, but it certainly was satisfying.

Speaking of Rusty, it is amazing what a dog will go through to get a bird. I dropped one of only four roosters I saw on day two, right in two inches of water...and twelve inches of black mud! Rusty bolted through the cattails then sailed out over the creek, coming down in a black tidal wave. Gooey. Quite and rather messy. Upon arriving at the impact crater, he plunged his head into the muck and pulled the mostly imbedded carcass from is miry depth. He and the bird received a proper bath upstream of a muskrat dam. Good times.

This was one of the briefest efforts I ever put up for pheasants in my favorite Dakota. With licenses being of the unappealing "two week" nature, I knew my time was best budgeted just the way it had been. Perhaps someday their G&F will go back to a season permit. It almost happened recently. If they do I will likely go back to the way I once did things and pay the area more visits. Perhaps the folks in Bismark will realize that they lose tourism with the current system. Rather than buy another permit, I go hunt another state. That said, North Dakota is still number one in my heart and my roots run pretty deep there.

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