The Honey Hole
By Loyde Childs
t, hence a honey "hole". It is that impeccable place
or time when everything is the best like no other. Regardless
of what you do, if you do it long enough, you will remember that
special time when it all together.
In bird hunting three things have to be right to have a chance
for a perfect event to happen. First, the scenting conditions
for the dogs need to be exceptional, and the dogs must put game
in the air for close easy shots. Second, the hunter must make
every shot. Finally, there must be an abundance of game. When
all this happens together, hunting seems so ridiculously easy.
I have found that at the time of these significant moments it
is like reaching the pinnacle of a mountain and asking what is
next, what is left? Oh it certainly is fun to be part of the
happening, but the challenge is gone. Sometimes I have felt it
was not a matter of skill but all luck. When you reach this level
your happiness or degree of satisfaction will be based on your
expectations of what you want to accomplish. If you can visualize
what you expect is the ultimate then when it happens it might
not be so gratifying. However, if it is much better than your
greatest expectations, it will be a lofty high. It's like the
first time you found the mint on your pillow in a first class
hotel that you never expected to find. Now your expectations
for that hotel are huge, and if they don't come up with something
else in the future you will not feel good about your next visit.
Ed, my hunting partner, and I experienced the ultimate with
pheasant hunting in Iowa in 1993. You may recall that 1993 was
the year of the great flood. Des Moines was hit hard along with
several cities in central Iowa. With all the water the word quickly
spread that the pheasant season would be washed out. Conservation
people spread the message and in the fall, outof-state hunters
were noticeably absent. We had hunted North Dakota in October
and had put up with wind gales for three days. We returned with
seven birds, which equates to a poor hunt. With all we had heard
about the water in Iowa the pheasant season appeared to be pretty
Our first trip to Iowa was in mid November and we started finding
birds in our old spots. This was a surprise based on the prior
information. Late one afternoon we had some runners on the ground
and the dogs finally put them up out of range. They flew across
an east-west trending road into an area we had not hunted.
The next morning we spent some time to try to obtain permission
to hunt the area where we saw the pheasants fly into the day
before. After several attempts we found a party who had farmed
some of the land and explained that the owner lived in Northern
Iowa however, we could hunt the area.
The land ("The Honey Hole") is cut corn strips trending
down hill, with several small islands of heavy grass, and with
a creek with good cover meandering through what turns out to
be about one hundred acres. We start hunting down hill about
two hundred yards apart. As I head into the first bit of heavy
cover Brandy starts flushing pheasant roosters into the air all
around me. I swing on one only to pull up to get an easier shot.
I shoot two birds quickly and move only a few feet when more
erupt. I knock down a third. I pick one up and Brandy brings
the other two back to me. I have my limit and start to go back
to the truck while watching Brandy put more birds in the air,
all within gun range. Nearly all the birds I saw in the air were
cocks. This is not unusual, as late in the year after a cold
spell the birds will flock up by sex. When I get back to the
truck Ed is coming down the road and he also has his limit of
3 birds. It is a Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. and we are done
hunting for the day. This is a bit out of the ordinary since
we normally will hunt late in the day to get a limit of birds.
It was quick and fun to say the least, and we also got a chance
to watch football on television back at the motel. Something
we usually can do only when there are night games.
During the remainder of the season we made four more trips to
Iowa and hunted primarily the same spot with the same results.
Every time we hunted the area we found the birds. They moved
around and sometimes it might take an hour to find them but we
knew we would.
One particular stretch, which I remember, was always excellent.
It was a tall grass piece which was about fifty yards wide and
extended about a quarter mile. It was a gentle up-hill walk with
a fifteen to twenty degree grade. I had my best luck working
with Bonnie as she was a bit slower than Brandy and would not
rush the birds into the air. I knew that when I got to the fence
on the far end that the birds on the run would be airborne once
they ran out of cover. This is a given when hunting with a flushing
dog. Your heart is in your mouth as the end nears and up they
come, but you're ready and that's what it is all about. High
expectations just like the mint on the pillow!
Over the last several years we have hunted that same land with
poor results. Although the land looks the same and there is corn
planted each year there are no birds. I can't explain the change
over the years. However, I'll never forget how easy it was that
fall in a place we called "The Honey Hole".
Loyde Childs hails from Marshall, WI