South Dakota is the pheasant hunting capital of the nation and as I worked my way north I was looking forward to this, my first pheasant hunt of the year.
As a youngster growing up in South Dakota, I was amazed at the number of birds in the Watertown area. We lived just one block from the edge of town, where the Sioux River snaked through bottom and there were always birds in the sloughs and wet areas along the river.
Another thing, which amazed me, was the fact that the bird that drew so many people to the state to hunt was the state’s bird, the Chinese Ring neck pheasant!
It’s a great upland game bird and one that brings hunters from throughout the United States to take part in opening day.
In South Dakota, hunters can bag three roosters per day and take home a possession limit of fifteen.
On this hunt, I’d join members of the North Central Paralyzed Veterans of America to take part in the Doug Brown Memorial Pheasant hunt at Top Gun Hunting Ranch near Howard, S.D.
Doug Brown had served veterans for years as the Veteran’s Representative at the Sioux Falls, South Dakota VA, with this annual event being held in his memory giving disabled veterans and individuals an opportunity to take part in a real South Dakota Pheasant hunt.
Family members and friends of Brown as well as the North Central Paralyzed Veterans of America staff, volunteers from the area and the folks at Top Gun Hunting Ranch all help to make this 2016 event a great success.
The event kicks off with a breakfast at Top Gun where generous proportions of eggs, biscuits and gravy, juice and coffee are served.
After breakfast, those in wheel chairs ready themselves to be loaded in preparation to heading out into the field.
The North Central Chapter of the P.V.A. has specialized equipment, including a trailer with a hoist, which allows those in wheel chairs to be transferred into the back of pickups
Included in their equipment is a tracked wheelchair, giving double amputees the ability to move around in the fields and take part in the hunt.
The pickups, specialized trailer and tracked wheelchair are then moved to the field where they are set up along the outside edge and at the end of the field, giving these hunters the opportunity for a shot at a bird
While they block, volunteers and their dogs make their way through the corn, grass and shelterbelts pushing the birds towards the waiting hunters.
As the walkers and dogs near the end of the field, the birds took flight,with the roosters cackle and the sound of dozens of pairs of wings as they erupted from the corn rows taking wing in every direction, with the disabled hunters doing their best to catch up to these high flying birds.
The report of their shotguns filled the air as the birds took to the air some escaping while others didn’t. At one point while I was following a high flying rooster with my camera, the bird flew straight towards me, gaining height with every wing beat. There were so many shots being fired, I didn’t notice the bird get hit until it came crashing down and bounced a foot away from me.
The hunters were having a great time, as could be heard by the stories that were flying here and there. It was very obvious by the smiles and comradely among the hunters, that this hunt was a huge success, one honoring Doug Brown and giving these individuals an opportunity to spend time that fall day in the field enjoying a special South Dakota pheasant hunt.
I’d like to thank the family and friends of Doug Brown, the volunteers, The North Central Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the folks at Top Gun Hunting Ranch and the hunters for allowing me to be part of this hunt!
For more information on this great organization, the North Central Paralyzed Veterans of America you can go to http://www.ncpva.org
If you’re looking for a great South Dakota pheasant hunt, check out Top Gun Hunting Ranch at http://www.topgunhunt.com/
Gary Howey, Hartington, Neb., originally from Watertown, S.D. is a former tournament angler, fishing and hunting guide. He is the Producer/Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series. Looking for more outdoor information, check out www.outdoorsmenadventures.com and like Gary Howey’s Outdoorsmen Adventures on Facebook.
The tracked wheel chair allowed this double amputee veteran the ability to join in the hunt and shoot a few birds. (Outdoorsmen Productions Photo)