It was the first year my boyfriend Bill and I had been dating and we were talking about ice fishing, and I had told him one of these years I am going to go to Lake of the Woods ice fishing.
Something I have wanted to do for years and that it was on my bucket list of things I’ve wanted to do. So, he asked me, have you ever been to Devils Lake? Of course, I said no. He said he heard the fishing was awesome there. So, jump ahead a few weeks, he is headed out to Montana for a couple of weeks in October and sends me a text asking what dates work better for me, which was right at Christmas.I’m like any of them will work for me.
What’s it for? He says I’m booking us an ice fishing trip at Devils Lake, ND. I was grinning from ear to ear, I felt so special that he would think of that for me. He was originally going to book it for Christmas Day and the next 3 days, but they were booked so he booked it for December 28 – January 1 I was so excited. The first Christmas I had looked forward to in years. Once he got back, we started talking about it and planning our trip. We decided we were going to turn it into a long hunting trip, and hunt for a week in South Dakota, hunt for a week in North Dakota and finish off in Montana.
December 22, we headed out early in the morning to avoid traffic, it was a long drive, but we had fun talking and laughing the whole way. We arrived in Alexandria, SD late in the evening. Found ourselves a motel room a shower and some much-needed rest after a long drive. So, we got up early ate some breakfast, and headed out, first thing we had to do was get our hunting license, so we went to Cabela’s once we were done there it was time to pick an area to hunt. Bill had hunted a lot in SD when he was younger, so we went to many of the areas he had been to in the past. I never knew that there were so many plots of land that was open to hunters. It was cold and snowy and so much of the land had been flooded out in the fall and froze over, we did a lot of driving around looking for spots to hunt pheasant mainly. We were looking for any signs of tracks, but came up short, we tried a couple of areas that were full of cat tails but nothing, and without a dog makes it even more difficult to flush them out. so, we preceded to try calling coyotes, not much sign for them either, but we still gave it the ole college try. We walked into some Bureau of Land Management and set up and tried to call a coyote in, nothing. So, were driving around some more tried several more places but nothing. So, we continued west we stopped in Onida, SD and found ourselves a motel. Boy that poor lady Bill loves to mess with people, she says to him I only have a single bed, is that ok? He responds to her she’s my sister we don’t mind sleeping together and this lady looked at him and says you better not be serious, with this look of anger, we had to tell he we were just kidding, I really think she would have not let us stay there if it was true. We stayed there for a couple of days driving around and the only thing we had seen is round bale after round bale, are you kidding me I swear this was the round bale capitol of this country, even the shoulders of the road were cut and baled. I had never seen anything like it. We had gone into a restaurant for dinner that evening and sat up at the bar started talking to the bartender asking where all the pheasants are, she tells us it’s been a hard year for them and that a good portion of there habitat had been flooded out. It had been such a wet fall for them that most of the corn fields hadn’t even been cut yet and of course the pheasants we did see were hanging in the still standing corn. So, the next morning we headed out looking for some place to hunt, we tried a few fields but still nothing. So that evening we found a spot that had signs of coyotes, it was a field with a froze over pond. We walked in crunch, crunch, crunch, the snow was so noisy there was no walking in quietly. Bill was already frustrated with that, but we still tried. He started up the caller with some howls and all the sudden they started howling back, it was one of the coolest things to me because there were several of them and I had never heard anything like that. I was just learning about coyote hunting and had only been out with him back home a few times. But I was eager to learn. So, anyways we called until it was almost too dark to see, and the coyotes just kept teasing us. Nothing came in. So as were walking out I’m asking him questions about why they were howling back every time he used the howl on the caller but not coming in. He says they watched and heard us walk in, and he started to explain to me how smart they are. I never knew how intelligent of an animal they really were. We spent the whole week driving all over the state hunting, it was beautiful, and I got to see so many things, I would have never in my life got to experience or see. We decided to head north toward Bismarck, North Dakota and hunt our way to devils lake.
Week 2 to be continued next week…