Don Korkow: A Hunter Who Knows.
Growing up on the plains of Pierre, South Dakota, Don Korkow has loved hunting since the day he learned how to walk. At 72 years old and with nearly seven decades of pheasant hunting experience, he still looks forward to every opening day.
We sat down with Don as he shared his best tips and tricks along with veteran insights on how to make this your best pheasant hunting season yet.
Choose the land and location wisely.
“There’s no doubt that choosing the location of your pheasant hunt is important,” Don advises. Whether you’re walking the same badger holes year after year or trying some place new, consider three important factors when thinking about bagging birds: water, food and cover—all of which you will find in abundance in the Pierre area.
Don says water is not only a hydration source for pheasants, it’s also a “bug source.” Whether small or large, a body of water doubles as a way for pheasants to stay hydrated and a place for young chicks to find grub. Look for tall, native grasses and tree shelterbelts, which act as both cover and food source for the upland birds. Pheasants forage for various insects in these grasses while filling their diet with fresh greens from their habitat. Don says all of these components lead to more chicks and bigger birds. In Don’s own words, “there’s nothing better than fat n’ sassy birds.”
Bring plenty of shells.
Don remembers his first hunt like it was yesterday. “I shot and shot and shot until I ran out of ammo for my .410 single shot shotgun.” After that, he had to get creative to bag his first birds. Learning his lesson quickly, Don now brings plenty of shells on every hunt (and not because he’s a bad shot).
“There’s no worse feeling than reaching into your vest pocket to find it’s empty. No one wants to be ‘that’ guy or gal hollering down the line asking for more shells,” says Don. Rather than run this risk of embarrassment, Don always wears his trusty bandolier and fills it with about 50 shells at a time. He also carries extra ammo in his vehicle. Two or three boxes per day is his preference. “Think of it this way: no shells and no bird OR too many shells and a bird. No brainer.”
Three is definitely not a crowd.
There are fewer grave mistakes when pheasant hunting than lacking enough manpower to thoroughly cover an area. In Pierre, Don typically hunts with 11 to 12 people plus a few dogs. He finds this is the best way to hunt his native prairies. Scouting out the area prior to the hunt will allow for better planning and working of a certain area.
Of course, a larger group adds more variables to the hunt and safety should always be top of mind for the group. Don says designating a leader will help to keep the hunt organized and safe for everyone involved.
Work your dog.
When it comes to hunting, man’s best friend always makes for a much better hunt. “They add a different dimension to hunting and make it easier to find the birds.” If hunting with a dog, Don recommends going out more than once or twice in a season to bag some birds. Upping the amount of hunts per year will help you to develop a better relationship with your dog and become more acquainted with his tendencies and his nose. Don believes there is no better way to flush a pheasant than with your dog, and as the old adage goes, “it will only get better with time.”
Pheasant hunting is about more than bagging the bird.
While there is nothing Don loves more than the rush of the flush and the bagging of the bird, his favorite memories aren’t from the field. What Don loves most is sitting around the fire, talking about the “remember whens” with his family and friends. It’s all about the relationships with his fellow hunters and watching his kids and grandkids grow up to become the next generation of hunters and conservationists.
Don loves bagging his limit when bird counts are up, but it’s the scarce years that he tends to cherish and enjoy the most. “Relish in the camaraderie with your family and friends and enjoy watching your dog do his thing. Those are the things you truly remember.”
If you’re ready to experience every aspect of pheasant hunting, plan your hunting trip at VisitPierreSD.com
. While you’re there, look up Don Korkow. He’ll have a big smile, a friendly handshake and, without a doubt, a few good stories to tell.