Monday, November 17, 2014

An Iowa Pheasant Story

A Pheasant Story

On the farm in Iowa, back then.

Pheasant Hunters, South Dakota circa 1920 

Always, on the farm, priorities led the way!  Certain things just had to be done before those little pleasures of life could be taken up.  In the fall before any thoughts of hunting or trapping could be engaged the harvest must first be completed.  That old farm country adage: 'You have to make hay while the sun shines', fell right into harvesting crops before the snow flies!

This particular year, lets see, well it was way back then, the harvest had been free of those things that slow it down. You know, equipment break downs, rain, rain and then more rain, livestock escaping their fences...things of that sort.  None of those interferences had reared their heads and the harvest was swift.
So, with the last ear of corn in the granary my brother Loren and I dusted and cleaned our shotguns so as to be ready to head to the field in the morning.  Now hunting after the harvest and on Thanksgiving was kind of a family tradition. Other than that for most of the family it was not enjoyed much apart from those times. My desires tended to be more ravenous, but alas I was still a bit of a sprout in those days and was not allowed to go out alone.  So, guns all ready the next morning we headed out.  We tramped through the corn field, through the tall grass surrounding the corn field, through the ditches and draws and into and out of the evergreen grove.  Not a pheasant, not a cotton tail or a jack rabbit, not a fox, not even an old possum!  All of these critters had been seen in bounty during harvest, but now gone.

Thats just the way of it, those animals seemed to just know that "man was in the forest".  Referring to the Thornton Burgess books my mother had read us about such woodland characters as Little Joe Otter, Jerry Muskrat and Ole Uncle Billy Possum always fearing man and hiding when he came into the forest!  I was sure these rabbits and pheasants just knew and were hiding where we could not see.

Well after some lengthy hours of hunting my brother and I came together at our property fence line, set our gun butts on the ground and puzzled over the disappearance of all the game.  Without warning from 2 or 3 feet to my left jumps a rooster pheasant, runs a few steps and takes flight.  Faster than i thought possible both my equally startled brother and I swung our guns and fired at the same instant.  Smoke and feathers is all we saw, that bird could not have gotten more than 12 to 15 yards away when all the force of two 16 gauge shotguns with #6 shot hit that bird.  The left over 'parts' seemed less than edible as we pondered weather to present this mess to Mother for tomorrows dinner.  After some discussion with thoughts being verbalized like, "well here is a bit of meat" and "do you see his legs" we decided a meal was lost.  Good shooting though, fast and accurate.  continuing to hunt seemed useless, and well you know...We had a STORY to tell!!!

 -David Book, Kentucky 

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