Two weekends ago Jake, the dogs, and I headed out for the first pheasant hunting trip of the season. Over the years we’ve been invited to join some friends at Cordie and Marlys Scholmer’s Snake Den Lodge in Presho, South Dakota for South Dakota Youth Opener. Even though we don’t have any two-legged children of our own, they’ve invited us anyway to join them for some early season wing shooting on the preserve. Amazingly the stars aligned and this year we finally were able to make it!
When we rolled into the Lodge late Friday evening I wasn’t surprised to find that, as usual, I was the only girl. Hugs and wagging tails greeted us and immediately set the tone for the weekend. Our three youth hunters, Noah, Micah and Austin, are all in their mid- to late teens and have been hunting for a few years, which made the weekend all the more fun. Fortunately the guys were cool about letting me tag along on their father-son hunting weekend.
I’ve been lucky enough to hunt out at Snake Den Lodge once before and let me tell you, I love the place! Living next door to Wyoming I don’t exactly look to my home state when I think about taking a vacation but this place is the exception. Not only is the hunting awesome but the lodge is so comfy and fun I could happily go there just to hang out. The great rustic décor and homey atmosphere makes it perfect for lounging around with your friends at the end of the day. With multiple flat screen TVs to keep tabs on the Vikings and baseball play-offs, a pool table for some friendly competition and the bar nearby we had some memorable evenings sharing stories and rehashing the day’s events.
Saturday morning we woke to frost on the ground, crystal blue skies and temperatures cold enough to have me digging out my warm gear. Although it was only the first weekend of October it definitely felt like hunting season. Cordie and Casey, owner and guide, loaded the gang, their dogs and our dogs (we might have had almost as many dogs as hunters!) into their pick-ups and we were off to the fields. It took a couple of walks down the food plots to get the shooters and dogs back into the rhythm of pheasant hunting. I got a couple of shots off the first morning but those boys are faster shots than I and by lunch our limit had been filled.
After a tasty lunch the adults left their guns at the lodge and we headed out for the Youth Hunt. The afternoon had warmed up nicely but the birds were still plentiful and with a little help from the dogs it wasn’t long before the guys had filled their limits for the day. Back to the lodge we headed with most of the afternoon still ahead of us. After the late night the evening before some folks headed for naps but Jake and I decided to just relax and enjoy the down time. It’s amazing what you can do when the cell phone and computer don’t get in the way.
The next day dawned a bit warmer than the previous. By the time we hit the field it was almost t-shirt weather. On our first pass Cordie noticed that I’m not exactly a crack shot and with my new Browning BPS that I’d never shot before the lack of skill was amplified. He gave me a quick shooting lesson, the only instruction I’ve ever received mind you, and then I was back in the game. It was pretty amazing what a bit of coaching can accomplish. Right after that I bagged three birds helping to make up for Jake’s unusual lack of shooting that day.
The youth hunt that afternoon was downright hot with the sun in full force. After a fighting through a few sloughs, hiking some long feed plots, and searching the corn rows the boys had had enough for the day. The birds had been trickier to find but the guys had still done well.
That evening Jake and I had to return home while the rest of the gang planned on hunting again the next day. Before we left though, the Schlomer’s put on a fantastic dinner. Marlys and her daughter, Jamie, made most of the food while Casey handled the grill. If the silence during supper was any indicator then those folks earned a 5-star rating because not a peep could was made and there were definitely no hungry people when all was said and done.
After two fun-filled days at the Snake Den with our friends it was hard to say goodbye but the road was calling and there was work to be done at home. We loaded up the pups and hit the road knowing that we’ll definitely be back to visit again soon!