Hunters rarely think of upland hunting first when they consider Wyoming.
Pheasants require annual planting in most areas. Chuckars and Hungarian partridges are scattered and vary by the year. Grouse seem to be everywhere, and nowhere.
But it’s upland birds that ease us into winter. Pheasant season transitions us from a fall full of 5:30 a.m. wake up calls and miles crossing downed timber into hillsides of white and weeks below zero.
We get an hour back during pheasant season. Even some of the regulations seem to want us to sleep in and end early with shooting hours between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
We don’t have to be quiet. We don’t have to be sneaky. We don’t have to walk fast.
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Our dogs do most of the work, rushing back and forth, catching a scent and giving themselves something to dream about for the other 10 months of the year.
The land is also transitioning.
The prairie sand reed is cured, bending its golden head in the breeze. The cattails are billowing, sending millions of seeds into the wind. The milkweed have opened, leaving their strange, almond-shaped shells behind.
Ponds are freezing. Patches of snow sit nestled against ridges hidden from the sun.
The pheasant sky is endless.
It’s fall’s last gasp. Even if you don’t find birds, the experience provides one last bit of warmth and the comfort.