Wednesday was largely uneventful. We had some more yelling, some more swerving, some more dog whining, one heated political discussion, and then we arrived at our destination in Williston, N.D. late Wednesday. We hunted a little on Thursday and Friday. The big hunt was scheduled for Saturday morning.
I have to tell you about an incident that occurred on Friday. We had driven by two gals on horseback who were riding about a quarter mile from us. We were hunting some farmland about ten miles from Williston. My cousin Ronnie is a character. He has lived here his entire 61 years, everyone knows him, he has catchers mitts for hands and a size 14 shoe. He was quite the rounder in his day and he still scares the shit out of me. So Ron jumps out of the truck and just as soon as he does- the dog kicks up a rooster. Ronnie shoots it. Just as he shoots, I glanced behind us and the two horses those gals were riding spooked a little bit. The riders were about 200 yards away and they brought the horses under control pretty quickly. I didn't think anything of it.
About an hour later, some drunk guy showed up driving his truck and attempted to kick us off the land we were hunting. Ronnie always gets permission and he told the guy to beat it since it wasn't his land and he had no standing in the issue. The drunk guy's daughter (one of the riders) was in the truck with him and she was trying to turn this incident into some big deal which it wasn't. We attempted to apologize but this only empowered the young girl to act even worse. So between the drunk guy and his whiny ass daughter, we quickly surmised there was no win here and that if we continued- one drunk guy was liable to get hurt. It reminded me a lot of my old law enforcement days.
On Saturday morning after about 5 minutes of sleep, we had to go into Williston to get Montana hunting licenses via some state reciprocity at 6 a.m. The Bakken oil shale formation has turned Williston into a traffic nightmare. Williston simply doesn't have the infrastructure to support the enormous truck traffic which has consumed this area. As we got closer to town, a truck turning right onto the highway had ripped out an entire four lane traffic signal system- temporary lights which they have strung up like Christmas tree lights. The lights were laying all over the road with the cops directing traffic. (I looked for a link to the news story but I could not find one)
We obtained the licenses, drove back to my cousin's house, and though it was still very dark- we left for Montana. The wind was howling when we arrived at the posted and protected 1500 acre farm that we would be hunting. I was only out of the truck for a minute or so when I realized my ears were about to become frozen and turning blue. It seemed entirely possible that they might break and fall off my head with any sudden movements. I felt like an idiot for leaving my knit hat behind. I noted everyone had the hoods up on their hoodies. That seemed like a logical move.
There were pheasants everywhere. Hundreds of them. My dad and I posted up at the end of a field while two dogs and four people drove birds at us. The wind was blowing so hard that the pheasants were coming at us like small, 100 MPH missiles. I tried leading them 10 feet or so and I couldn't hit them. At one point, there were dozens coming, we couldn't keep shells in our guns, and we still hadn't hit one pheasant. I began laughing so hard that I couldn't stop.
Ya know, I've been shooting my whole life. Anybody can hit clay targets that move the same speed, in the same directions, on command, at the shooting range on some warm day that you select. I would have loved to have seen some professional shot gunners I know- guys who have shot in the Grand National- try to hit those birds. I have a feeling that I would have laughed even harder seeing those guys miss. I have no idea how far one leads a pheasant fleeing for his life with a 30 mile an hour tailwind. The walkers nailed a couple.
We changed locations. One of the guys coming at us shot straight at me. I heard the thick grass, maybe only 20 feet in front of me, get peppered with shot. I hate hunting with more than four people for that reason. You really have to pay attention to where everyone is, where the dogs are, where the trucks are, and sometimes you just can't shoot. Sometimes, people make mistakes.
We must have covered 10 miles of very hard walking on Saturday. We shot 17 pheasants, one short of our limit.
On Sunday morning at 6 a.m., cousin Ronnie decided to wake us up with his electronic dying rabbit calls which he uses to lure in coyotes. He has a remote control and he can make several different noises. So the dogs went haywire and started barking, we all got up shaking our heads, and Ronnie was upstairs laughing as he changed the desperate noises on the remote control.
We hunted again on Sunday morning but mostly I am hunted out at this point. It was a beautiful day, sunny, warm, all the trees are changing color and they were beautiful. My brother, his wife, and cousin Ronnie went fishing during the afternoon.. I napped, watched football, and wrote this. We will probably hunt one last day and point the truck towards Idaho.
The week went by quickly. I hope the trip home goes by just as quickly.