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Calen Ruff pheasant

Calen Ruff, 10, and his dog friend Trout, are shown with Calen's first pheasant.

Hello friends,

When I was a young boy growing up in Poynette, my family was very active when it came to pheasant and waterfowl hunting. Many of our hunts took place on public property, of which most of them were either at the Mud Lake or Pine Island Wildlife Areas. Both of these properties are massive and are regularly stocked with pheasant from the state game farm at Poynette.

This week I spent three separate days hunting pheasant with my golden retrievers Fire and Ruby, and sometimes my daughter Selina, and to be honest, most of my thoughts were about life back in the 1970s.

Thursday, Oct. 25

High 52, low 29

This would be Ruby’s first pheasant hunt and it has been years since Fire has chased pheasant. Today, Selina would be along as well for what would be three hours in hip-boot country at Pine Island. Generally this is not hip boot country, but times have changed.

First and foremost, Selina and I are worn down from being very busy, and pretty much were looking at this as a long walk with the pups. If a hunter chooses, when hunting Pine Island, you can get away from all hunters if you just keep walking away from the parking areas. The deeper you hike, the wetter it gets, and the longer the walk back to the truck is.

Selina and I hiked what I believe would have been 3-4 miles. We took a heck of a great nap in a meadow, did not flush a pheasant until we reached the truck and it was 2 p.m., at which time the season closed.

Friday, Oct. 26

High 49, low 25

Today, Selina had to work, so I drove down to Mud Lake for a duck hunt and a trip down memory lane. From roughly 1950 until 1985, my family had a duck blind on Mud Lake, and my dad was one die-hard duck hunter. We used a 10-foot row boat to get to the blind and dad would sit in the back facing forward and my brothers Tom, Mike and I would take turns rowing in the dark as dad would say either right or left, meaning which oar to pull harder on.

Today it was my hopefully pregnant golden retriever Ruby and her mom for companions. This would be an afternoon hunt, and I would be the only hunter on the water. I did not come close to getting a shot. As I watched the sky, all I had on my mind were memories.

Friday, Oct. 26

High 49, low 25

Early this morning I dropped Selina off at Poynette, where her uncle Dick Schuster was taking her on a bow hunt. I then drove to Pine Island with the pups and arrived 45 minutes before shooting could begin.

First I want to say this, to each and every hunter that recognized me and the pups over the last three days, thank you for the compliments. Like a blind fool, I stuck with my plan of getting far away from the road this morning and after three hours of hiking, in or around lots of water, I did not see a pheasant.

With an hour left to hunt, I started heading back towards the truck, which was about 1 ½ miles away. When I was about 500 yards from the truck, Ruby flushed a rooster, and holy moly, it fell out of the sky after I fired my 12 gauge.

Another hundred yards closer to the truck, Ruby flushed another pheasant and I dropped it hard but it was no where to be found. Ruby was hot on its trail and ran it down, and that is one bird that would not have been found without a dog.

On the hike back to the truck I saw my old pal Trevor Ruff. Trevor had his boys Calen, 10; Brodie, 8 and Asher, 4, along for a hunt and Calen had harvested his first pheasant. Asher was carried in a pack on Trevor’s back and this group reminded me of my brothers, my dad and I back in the 1970s.

Trevor was a member of Kids and Mentors Outdoors until his very young boys took over his schedule, and he is now seriously thinking about getting back in. Come on back Trevor!

Anyways, you can maybe see that hunting as a family with your kids helps keep a family together as adults, so please take a kid hunting.



Regional Sports Editor

Capital Newspapers Regional Sports Editor