Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's All Good, Right?

Hunting pheasants on public land is a bit like casting to planted trout: it feels pretty good in all the obvious ways, even though you'd prefer your birds and fish wild given the option. Factor in a bird dog, and the pleasure is in watching that canine find and--in the case of my English setter Radar--point the quarry. Even liberated pen-raised ringnecks run and understand survival. Still, it feels like a preserve hunt, and in some ways it is.

So after I pounded out some copy for a destinations piece this morning, quarreling over parking access in the article for the longest time, I kenneled him up and we hit a spot over in New Hampshire--we weren't alone.

In truth I'll take one migratory woodcock over a brace limit of stocked pheasants, but today we found no 'doodles, and Radar's sweet point on one of the bigger birds couldn't be resisted. Weight in the field vest usually feels pretty good. He also pointed (at my encouragement) a dead cockbird a guy had dropped with a golden BB, one that folded about sixty yards from his muzzle, after first being shot at a third that distance. Lost. Found by my hunting partner. I handed the rooster to the stranger. "You using 6s?" I asked the guy. "7 1/2s," he said. Tad small for ringnecks, but hey . . . it was pretty clear he wasn't after woodcock.

As for our end of things, the little pile of frozen pheasant breasts and legs in the freezer will make a stew one of these days. Ten-bird season limit on the planted ones, and we still have a ways to go . . .


(Steve Hickoff photo)