Gnarly Rooster Hunts I've (Barely) Survived

I like the nice, sunny, 50-degree pheasant hunt as much as the next guy. But, hey, they all don’t come that way now, do they!
Take the time some 10 years ago when I (foolishly) ventured forth in central Minnesota for a January (was I crazy?) pheasant hunt. I’m a good sized guy that generates a lot of heat and holds it in well when moving about. I use good gear, but in that subzero wind, if I hadn’t kept moving, the cold, white hand of death was ready to grab me quick. It was a “snot froze instantly” on the hankie day. The dogs could barely gnaw the ice balls off their feet. My cheeks were wind-burnt for a week after.
Did we get any birds? Naw…had we, it would have taken at least 10-degrees off the big chill.
Wha dat’s you say? Go hunting? Now?
Once in South Dakota and, well, again in Ohio, I was talked into hunting in a literal downpour in 30-degree weather. On the Dakota ordeal, we should have called the local fire department to come out for a hypothermia check with us. It was that bad, the kind of driving rain where you had to turn your face to keep the sleet from stinging your skin, which was already raw from the wet and cold. The reason I tried to get out of this hunt was I didn’t have along my usual waterproof pants, so I quickly got soaked. One good thing: As the pants froze and stiffened, they kept me from tipping over when I felt faint. Did we get any birds? Yes, thank goodness. We didn’t have to shoot them, though; they just dropped from the sky when they flew.
In the Ohio downpour, the degree of rain was much, much worse. I kept expecting that Weather Channel guy to pop up in his blue coat and microphone. It was what we call in the damp Midwest a “cloud burst,” that is, the cloud explodes and all the rain comes dumping down in buckets. One of my compadres, who I had warned not to come since he lacked proper gear, did in fact get hypothermic and sick. This time, however, I was ready for old Mother Nature with gonzo gear and then some…I didn’t get the slightest bit wet or cold. For me, another narrow escape…Man, I love hunting.
Have you been on a harrowing pheasant hunt?

-Mark Herwig is editor of the Pheasants Forever Journal and Quail Forever Journal. Email Mark at‚Äč