This week’s column for the most part is about spending four days in Dodge County near Burnett with my super-duper, most perfect buddy — the one and only Rod Bensley! I have written about Rod in the past and until recently he created, ran, and owned Roosters Run pheasant hunting preserve. Rod and his wife, Wendy Vick, still manage the prettiest 212-acres of pure paradise in Dodge County, but for a solid reason that you will soon find out, they do not market pheasant hunts anymore.
Wednesday, Sept. 1
High 74, low 54
All the credit for the best goose hunt that I have ever been on goes to retired Dodge County conservation warden John Christian. I had met John in the past but today would learn that the man is pure bird dog and he had left no weaknesses when we met with him long before daylight in a somewhat picked, sweet corn field. There were three small spreads of decoys to put out and then the bird dog made a blind for me out of corn stalks, told me to lay on the ground and covered me up. I was told the geese would be in soon and the wait was not long.
Now here is the inside story and it is a big, albeit a sad one, but it is what life is all about. My super-duper buddy had a sore leg last fall and it got worse all winter. Due to Covid issues and some scheduling mishaps, a serious look at what was causing the pain did not happen until mid-spring and it was soon determined that Rod had prostate cancer that had progressed to his bones.
It was determined that Rod had a fighting chance until he became very ill on Memorial Day and found out that he had rectal cancer, and quite possibly, not long to live.
All summer I have been in regular communication with Rod and Wendy and four days at their place was scheduled to visit, and for me to also be put into the Rod Bensley Labor Camp.
This is how John Christian comes into the story, it was determined that he could set up a hunt under conditions where there were next to no geese in the area for the opener and with his long-term buddy who has less than perfect health.
Wendy, who is a nurse at Waupon Correctional Institute, was so concerned about her husband that she came along and sat in the truck.
A flock fly’s over. I can’t see boo because of corn stalks covering my face, but John drills one. A flock lands, I cannot do anything because they are out of range. A flock makes the mistake of coming too close and we drop five. Before it got light, we said we would be happy with a couple of geese. We now have six.
Rod sails a goose and Wendy goes home to get their German Wirehair “Sassy.” Rod Bensley is one of the best hunting dog trainers that I have observed. The goose is at least 500 yards away and in a sunflower field. Sassy finds the goose! We now have 10.
Rod knows that he is a man on a short rope; he is taking care of business in every way possible and doing his best to make sure Wendy is taken care of, including the two of them planning and building a new house on their 212 acres.
After the amazing retrieve, and some more exceptional shooting, I have four geese, as does John and Rod has two. Rod’s bad leg (cancer deterioration) is telling him he needs to go home. We literally had to lift him off the ground.
A flock of Canadas makes a mistake; I shot one, John shot one and Rod gets a triple! Wendy hikes in from the truck and the first thing she tells me “Its God, I guarantee you its God!”
I stayed with the Bensleys for two more days and did basic labor and mostly just visited and watched the non-stop parade of people visiting with Rod, and it was an incredible experience for me.
Rod has had some good luck lately and is praying that he can hunt deer with his crossbow, and maybe even with a rifle.
No matter what happens, this retired corrections officer, long time tree climber/harvester is living large and each day to its fullest! Live like there is no tomorrow!
Contact freelance journalist Mark Walters at sunsetoutdoorsmen @gmail.com