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Joined: 06/03/2010


               I shot my first pheasant (Chinese
Ring Neck rooster) when I was about thirteen or fourteen but didn’t get another
one for several years, not because I didn’t hunt for them, but because they
were pretty scarce around my hometown. Several farms around the outskirts of
town had some cornfields and I got permission to hunt there off and on but the
pickings were still pretty slim. I finally shot my second pheasant when I was
sixteen in an overgrown old field by a vacant farm house. I had walked that
field, not worrying whether I would see anything or not, when a lone rooster
sprang up. Since it was still pheasant season I raised my shotgun and fired, without
knowing for sure if I was doing it consciously or just by reflex at the
cackling rooster as he rose from the long grass in front of me. I found out
later that there was a pheasant club in the area that released pheasants every summer
before season to try to get a viable population of the birds to stick around.
It has been a tough go for that but to this day the club still releases birds even
though the pheasant population has never gotten above “poor”.

               Just why pheasants don’t seem to
stick in the U.P. of Michigan is kind of a puzzle to me. Pheasants are hardy
and can withstand the cold somewhat, depending on not too many sub-sub zero
temps in a winter, yet they seem to fail where I live in what is considered a
mild climate area in the southern most part of the peninsula bordering
Wisconsin. In places like Colorado, Utah, Montana, the Dakotas and other states
that present many of the same climates and habitat pheasants thrive. I consider
habitat loss (fewer farmlands) and predator numbers to be one reason but certainly
not the main reason. Many animals love to eat pheasants and their eggs along
with new chicks when they are hatched but I don’t think predator numbers in my
area are high enough to be the reason that knocks down pheasant populations
consistently every year so habitat loss is left to be the possible reason.

               Over the next few years I
occasionally shot a rooster but it was never more than one and usually none
most other years. A local farmer opened a shooting club on his farm and stocked
pheasants and quail which a person could hunt for the proper fee. I loved the
opportunity but after several years he quit the game farming business and that
finished my good pheasant (and quail) hunting for a while. It wasn’t until I
was living in southern California that a friend offered to take me to his
hunting club for an afternoon of bird hunting that I did some pheasant hunting
in style again. We hunted pheasants, quail and Hungarian partridge and it was
great, no limit on birds and they even cleaned and bagged them up for you when
you were done. I went as his guest several times before I left California and
landed in New Mexico.

               In New Mexico I made friends with
a guy who loved hunting and guns and he liked to have a partner when he roamed
the vast ranch land and farms around the area where we lived and he knew a lot
of ranchers and farmers and seemed to have everyone’s permission to hunt
wherever he wanted. I became his hunting partner and we eventually hunted
quail, doves, sand hill cranes and pheasants along with some sage grouse during
the grouse season. For the pheasants we would hunt the huge “Milo” fields on
some of the farms where the pheasants were plentiful and very huntable. I shot
more roosters in and around Portales than I had ever shot anywhere else. I
loved that period of my life and sometimes miss the great bird hunting but all
good things must end and for me it happened when we moved back to our hometown
in Upper Michigan. Now don’t get me wrong, I love where I’m at and wouldn’t
leave now for anything, even great bird hunting!

               I don’t get out hunting much now
but I’ve had some of the best in my past so I can sit and remember how lucky I
was to have such great experiences. I do sometimes miss the taste of fresh
pheasant on the supper table but that is how it is.