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For Wisconsin Teacher, Iowa is Pheasant Hunting Paradise

November 20, 2007

By Lowell Washburn

Iowa Pheasant HuntingRick Seume admires a rooster pheasant bagged in north Iowa on Monday. Seume, a chemistry and biology teacher at the Webster, Wisconsin high school, has been pursuing Iowa roosters for the past twelve years.

Rick Seume has a hectic schedule. On week days you'll find him standing at the front of a classroom, teaching chemistry or biology to students of the Webster, Wisconsin high school.

But if anyone wants to touch base with Seume on a Saturday morning, they'll most likely have to travel to the tawny bird covers of northern Iowa. That's where this Wisconsin school teacher spends his fall and winter weekends, carefully following the nose of a well trained bird dog in quest of the ever popular, ever elusive rooster pheasant.

Ask him how the bird hunting is going this season, and Seume nearly explodes with enthusiasm.

"The habitat is in really great shape this fall and, so far, I'm finding about the same number of birds as last year which is really good," says Sueme.

"I've been coming down to Iowa for twelve years now and have gotten to know a lot of farmers. Getting permission to hunt hasn't been a problem and the people are really great. Over the years, I've gotten to know some of the local farmers pretty well and have become good friends with many of them. To me, that's great."

Although Seume spends a good part of the early season tromping private lands, his attentions may turn toward public areas as winter arrives.

"Iowa's public lands are incredible," says Seume. "The habitat is good. There's room to do all the walking you want, and we always seem to see a lot of birds. I keep coming down [to Iowa] for the entire season and it usually seems to get better and better the later you go. Hunting pressure usually goes way down and the birds really pack into the thick [public] areas once the weather gets tough."

When I crossed trails with Seume early Monday morning, he had just finished walking a fog bound chunk of low lying private grassland north of Clear Lake. As is normally the case in foggy weather, the birds were skittish with several pheasants flushing wild. One rooster, however, had made the fatal mistake of sitting too tight for too long.

Seume admired the plump bird's plumage as he slowly and respectfully rolled it in his hand. The day was young. One rooster down. Two to go.

"The pheasant hunting down here is really spectacular," said Seume. "We're starting to get better [pheasant] numbers back home, but it will never be anything like you have down here [in Iowa]."

So how did a Wisconsin high school teacher get to hunt ring-necked pheasants in Iowa on a Monday morning? The answer was simple.

"Actually, I'm on vacation for the whole week," grinned Seume. "The Wisconsin deer season opened last Saturday and everything ---- including the public schools ---- just shut down for the entire week."


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