Category Archives: Pheasant

What’s in a Name?

Dunkirk, Zurich, Malta, Glasgow, Cleveland, Devon, Rudyard, Harlem, Jordan, Belgrade, Amsterdam-Churchill, Havre, and Manhattan. These are names of places all over the world, but they are also names of places in Montana.

On our way home we stopped for the night in Zurich. Not Zurich, Switzerland, but Zurich, Montana. It’s a tiny farming community where the people drive their ATVs down the middle of  the road if they’re taking their trash to the local garbage dump. You just have to slow down and wait until they make their turn into the dumping station up ahead on the left.

Then you can continue on to the little gem of a community park where they kindly allow campers to stay the night for a mere  ten-dollar fee for electricity. Such a peaceful location.

The community hall was not in use the day we were there, camped in the corner.

The view from my trailer window is of black cottonwoods that whisper as they drop their last golden leaves. The only notably loud sound was made by the pheasant who cackled enthusiastically before taking wing out of the creek bed beside our trailer.

I thought it odd that Montana has so many names that duplicate other places in the world, but on looking more closely at the map, I saw names of a completely different sort:  Poplar, Wolf Point, Plentywood, Buffalo, Cat Creek, Musselshell, Rattlesnake, Lodgepole, Sleeping Buffalo, Whitewater, Crow Rock, Grass Range, Forest Grove, Roundup, Deer Lodge, Cut Bank, Sunburst, Sweetgrass, Fox Crossing, Chinook, Gold Butte.

Montana names are such fun!

 

Montana Fields

We try to get out to Montana every year in October for some bird hunting and photography and hiking. This year, we arrived to about an inch of snow. While it is beautiful, it is quite chilly. The good thing about it is that rattlesnakes don’t like cold weather so I didn’t have to worry as much about Emma and Ruby getting bitten.

You may remember Emma as a puppy four years ago. We had great hopes that she would someday become a good flusher and retriever of game birds.

She hasn’t disappointed us. In spite of being quite small, this English field cocker spaniel is full of energy and her cuddly nature takes a back seat when it comes to finding birds. Nothing gets away from her.

If you thought the prairies were only boring grassy fields, you couldn’t be more wrong. The coulees are full of prickly shrubs, birds, and small animals. A fat hare came tearing out of the shrubs here and just as I was about to snap a photo, my battery died.

But later I caught this mule deer running away from all the commotion. I traipsed along behind the Captain and Emma as they did their pheasant hunting thing, hoping for something interesting to photograph, and I saw something the deer had left behind last year — an antler shed. It was only the second time I had ever found one and I was quite happy about stumbling across it.

After the snow from the day before, the mostly clay ground was “wettish,” and while we had heavy clods of mud on our boots, Emma’s feet were getting harder and harder for her to pick up. Besides collecting many burrs in her fur, she had huge clumps of clay on her feet. Here she is getting them soaked off, just before I took the comb and scissors to her curly ears to remove the burrs.

She is usually so energetic, we weren’t sure this was our Emma flaked out on the couch after the day’s outing.

It was Ruby’s turn to go out today, but she is sick. We think she drank some bad water. This has happened one other year and we have given her some meds that we hope will fix her up in a day or two.

PS Now, two days later, Ruby is feeling much better. We are so relieved.

 

Roughing it in Montana

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When we’re away camping in our trailer, I want to retain at least a few of the comforts of home. Staying warm is one of my big priorities. Our friends kindly let us park our rig at their house and one evening we had a camping style supper together.

In October, days in Montana can still be very warm, making me forget that summer is over. But as soon as the sun goes down, there’s a definite chill in the air.

We put our dogs in their kennels and pulled them closer to the fire. Notice the very smart, impromptu bonfire set up by our Montana hosts. The propane tank is definitely American. It’s BIG!

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We were all thankful for the warmth this little bonfire threw, especially one of the residents’ dogs. The picture is blurry, probably because the dog was shivering, but she was warming an important  part of her body.

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We were going out to hunt pheasants the next day, but we were somewhat handicapped. Ruby had a cut, still healing, on her shoulder, and she had something in her toes that was causing her a lot of pain, so we would be limited to using her only in emergency situations, like finding a lost bird. The bulk of the work would be done by our new addition, six-month-old Emma.

Emma had learned what a pheasant was only a few days earlier. We showed her a picture to remind her of what we were after.

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She bounced around the fields with great enthusiasm and actually put up a lot of birds. She very quickly figured out what to do. Amazing what genetic markers will do.

Back home in the trailer, she was tired and happy, if not too sophisticated with one ear flopped over her head, seeds in her eyes, and a feather stuck to her mouth. But she showed a huge amount of promise.

??????????She was a dynamo this year. She’ll be dynamite next year.

 

Surprise Visitor

Waiting, sitting in the truck, annoyed with myself for forgetting to bring a book or my Kindle, I studied my surroundings, far and near. I thought about how the prairies fool so many people (me too, at first) into thinking it’s a boring landscape. To pass the time, I tried to name some of the animals I`d seen in those fields that seem empty at first glance.

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Hiding in the thick clumps of bushes and trees, mule deer, coyotes, porcupine, pheasants, and owls hoped not to be discovered. In the grassy hills, I`ve seen ground squirrels, badgers, sharptail grouse, and meadowlarks. Not all in the same day or at the same time, of course!

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This field could easily hide pheasants, rabbits, and sharptail grouse. I’ve heard Canada geese fly over it and heard coyotes yipping and howling at night as they patrol along the distant trees that line the Missouri River.

In the midst of my daydreaming, a robin flew over to ask me why I looked bored when I had so much beauty all around me. It sat in the branches of a Russian olive tree just outside the truck window and said, “Did you know that pheasants like to eat these olives? Sometimes they’re one of the few food sources available in the winter when the snow covers everything else.”

030Seeing that robin so close was a little thrill for me. He obviously hadn’t expected a person to be right there when he found a perch beside the truck window. I fumbled stealthily for my camera and hoped for the best. I was so glad this bird came to cheer me up. Wouldn’t he be surprised to know he will now live on my blog?