For the past four or so years I have made a point of joining some other guys that I know in an annual pheasant hunt. I first went pheasant hunting maybe four or five years ago, and quickly discovered that it was something that I very much enjoyed doing. I didn't have a shotgun of my own, however, and was always forced to borrow one from a friend. I have since purchased my own gun, some minimal hunting equipment, and have more than enough desire to put it to good use. This year's trip was just this past weekend, on October 26-27. This year I was able to shoot my fill of birds, and as a result I have five smoked pheasants in my freezer as I type.
Pheasants are one of my favorite animals to hunt. I have tried deer and small game hunting before, but have 1) never had any success, and 2) I am not a fan of sitting around in a tree all day, doing nothing, waiting for the deer to come to me. There's a lot more action with pheasant hunting, and even if you don't flush any birds, at least your walking and moving around constantly. This helps with keeping warm, and it just makes the hunt go faster. I've also had the chance to hunt turkeys a few times, and have been successful once. Turkey is also a very fun animal to hunt, but for different reasons that I'll save for a post after the next time I go turkey hunting.
Plus with pheasant hunting, there's just more going on at one time. Pheasants are usually hunted with dogs. Dogs run through corn and tall grass, trying to scare pheasants out of their hiding spots. A pointing dog will find one, and when he does, his whole body will freeze, with his snout pointed toward the pheasant. Watching this whole process happen is incredibly interesting. It's fun to see these very well trained dogs do their thing. And by all accounts, the dogs enjoy the hunt more than the people.
Also, pheasant hunting is easy! It's got to be one of the easiest kinds of hunting out there. Even people who don't particularly shoot very well can find success in pheasant hunting. Pheasants are rather large birds (about the size of a chicken) and they don't move very fast, making them rather large targets.
It's a good chance to get together and hang out with other guys who enjoy the sport. Our hunts usually consist of an overnight trip, which means we stay at the lodge the night before the hunt. This night is usually full of good conversation, a lots of laughs, and card games. This year was no exception. The lodge we stayed at had a game dinner all set up and ready for us when we arrived. We had pheasant, duck, mashed potatoes, dressing, and coleslaw. It was fantastic, although I can say that I definitely prefer pheasant to duck. Even so, very tasty.
Pheasant is very good eating. There are many types of game that don't taste very good. We have been conditioned to basically only enjoy corn-fed beef and chickens who have been fattened on quality food. What an animal eats matters - it affects the way it tastes when consumed by humans. Pheasants, however, have a naturally very good taste. They taste like, you guessed it: chicken. But they are wild animals that taste like chicken, and you don't get that too much when eating wild game. The club that we hunt with offers to clean and smoke the pheasants we shoot, which I've always taken advantage of.
I enjoy this new found past time of mine, and I hope to keep it up for years to come.