Hunting is a team sport. There are pre-hunt huddles and post-hunt analyses. You spend as much time standing around the truck wondering just how the hell to hunt these damn wild beasts as you do walking the fields harvesting them. Then there’s the time in the truck, the lunches at diners you normally wouldn’t dream of approaching, and the cleaning of birds on the back of the truck, headlamp on, knife in hand.
It’s a wild mix of experiences. Solitude in the field — a lone walk through the snow-covered wheat. Camaraderie at the truck — pulling the birds from your vest and counting the ring necks in the bed. Revelry in the lodge — toasting whiskey to kills and downing skewers of meat your own hands and eyes shot. And so, the charm of the endeavor isn’t simply the thrill of the trigger pull and felling the bird. It’s about the time you spend as 12 grown men and four anxious dogs setting up a strategy to walk a mile-wide by mile-long field full of savvy late-season roosters. That’s life in South Dakota. That’s the thrill and spoils of pheasant season.