Pheasant frenzy

Child-raising and bird-blazing

Posted 12/6/22

“I need to kill something,” my wife said to me as we juggle attempting to clean the house and preparing for work, church and half-a-dozen other family obligations taking place in the next few days.

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Pheasant frenzy

Child-raising and bird-blazing


“I need to kill something,” my wife said to me as we juggle attempting to clean the house and preparing for work, church and half-a-dozen other family obligations taking place in the next few days. 

Like a good and supportive husband, I say, “Not too much longer darlin’.” 

I was referring, as she was aware, to our upcoming Thanksgiving hunt with my father and grandfather. While we always anticipate the hunt, this year it was needed for entirely new reasons. 

To be fair, my wife had been a champ, running around and cleaning the same things over and over behind our two sons. The boys made a sport of not only undoing her work, but also finding new ways to broaden what they saw as a game. I helped in my usual capacity of attempting to distract them from their chaotic inclinations, which allowed the harbinger of hygiene to catch up with our little angels. 

All I can say is, I may need to take her hunting more often.

In any case, the day of the hunt—Thanksgiving morning—came as promised, and the boys were off to their grandmothers, whilst we were off to blow off some gunpowder—I mean steam. Those poor pheasants would never know the good they would do for the stressed-out momma bear that awaited them. 

We arrived at the hunt, donned our orange and loaded our shotguns, prepared to enjoy the peace and tranquility of nature on that sunny calm day. After a brief start to our walk, with the shorthair working just ahead of us, the first opportunity for bloodshed arrived. The dog came to a solid point and we lined up—as per protocol—in the direction the bird would likely fly from, where it was concealed in a dry swath of brush. 

Our guide for the day, my stepmother Trish, kicked out the hen, which promptly turned and flew behind us, causing the whole line to reposition on the spot and take a few unsuccessful cracks at the very lucky escapee.

Glancing over at my wife, I knew this was not a good start to the therapeutic session we had planned, but I squeezed her hand and smiled as we walked to where the next bird would be found. 

A few birds later, as a group our luck began to improve, but my wife had yet to claim one of the shots as her own. 

By now we had reached the bottom of the field, and were about to cross a small stream before heading up the next field. Just at the edge of the water, the dog stopped once more, indicating another bird. 

Chelsea lined up in the very center, behind the dog, ready to take the first shot once it was flushed. 

Trish stirred the grass and spooked the large hen into action. In an eventful flourish, the bird flapped her way straight up my wife’s torso before turning forward, only to fall moments later not 10 feet from the end of Chelsea’s smoking barrel. I could see the excitement wash over her face, knowing there was no mistaking her single-handed victory—she had very clearly been the only one to shoot. 

All in all, we shot all but one of the birds that were set out for the hunt, and we even saved a nice set of tail feathers from a mature cockbird for my son to hang on his wall. We took our family photos and processed the pheasants and a few chukars, saving the breast meat and legs, which mainly went to my grandfather as a special treat for him.

Chelsea and I saved a few just for us, because it’s hard to resist fresh pheasant. We returned to the family dinners and child-chasing that constituted the rest of our day, but we felt much better, having taken the time to be outside and harvest some food while enjoying each other’s company. 

The way out here it’s OK to be a little bloodthirsty. The world has a lot of demands, and they don’t get any easier if you don’t take time to re-center. For many farming families like ours, hunting is a backyard vacation from the day-to-day. Even just a few hours and a short walk by a river can mean the difference between another successful week, or falling asleep face-first in a basket of dirty laundry while the children establish a new world order, screaming and running through the house. 

To those who hunt, good luck with what remains of the deer season. To everyone else, I pray your babysitters are strong and your coffee stronger.

hunting, family, hunting season, pheasant


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