• Lake Ontario Charter Captain’s Vacation!

    Posted on September 30th, 2009 admin No comments
    My English Setter retrieving a Hungarian partridge on the Schauer ranch in South Dakota

    My English Setter retrieving a Hungarian partridge on the Schauer ranch in South Dakota

    What’s a Lake Ontario charter captain do when the lake fishing season for salmon and trout is over?  Well, he goes hunting!

    And that’s just what I did in late Sept., 2009, when I headed west with my English Setter, Bandit, to South Dakota to hunt sharptail grouse, prairie chickens, and Hungarian partridge on tens of thousands of acres of rolling grasslands and ranches in endless prairie country.

    With experience scouting and hunting these great game birds in South and North Dakota, plus north central Montana in the fall of 2008, I knew eactly where to go…, the Pierre National Grassland, Grand River National Grassland, and the 27,000 acre Schauer Ranch near the community of Faith, population 789, in Northwest S. Dakota.

    The national grasslands are a public treasure where hunters, have access to hundreds of square miles of hunting for big game like antelope, mule deer, and whitetails, plus small game, especially sharptail grouse and prairie chickens, collectively known as prairie grouse. 

     The wide open rolling grasslands are a mecca for hunters with wide ranging pointing dogs who pursue these wild, native game birds that inhabited America’s prairies long before the white man set foot here.   Visit Pierre, South Dakota on the opener of the prairie grouse season, Sept. 19 this year, and as you drive by the Fort Pierre Motel you’ll see a large sign that says, “Welcome Hunters and Dogs”.   In the motel parking lot, you’ll see pickup trucks with  license plates  from Maine to Virginia to Alabama.   

    I spent several days hunting sharptails and “chickens” at the Pierre Grasslands, then traveled on to the 27,000 acre Schauer Ranch with thousands of acres of wheat and sunflowers  stretching from horizon to horizon, plus more acres of grassland where hundreds of black Angus dot the fields.  Food plots of corn, sourghum, and millet are strategically scattered through the property.  Doug Schauer, who operates Prairie Hills Hunting www.prairiehillshunting.com carefully manages the habitat for trophy antelope, whitetails, and mule deer, plus wild South Dakota pheasants.  Two of my favorite western game birds, sharptails and Hungarian partridge, are abundant there.   The hunting for “sharpies” and Huns this year was even better than in 2008.  Exactly as described on the Prairie Hills Hunting web site, I saw many antelope, whitetails, and mule deer while hunting birds, with no other bird hunters on the entire ranch while I was there.

    My last stop this season was the Grand River National Grassland, my favorite grassland for sharptails because there are lots of birds and NO HUNTERS!  In about 10 days of hunting in ’08 and ’09, I’ve seen only two other bird hunters, and they spent only a few hours away from their vehicle.  The word for Grand River is remote…, it’s almost as if you were the first person to hunt there.