Monday, February 17, 2014

Outdoor Update - Pheasant Hunting 2014

A nice male pheasant
I spent the weekend running around the channeled scablands of central/eastern Washington hunting pheasant.  Since it’s been a while now, I think it’s time to lay some more biological-type learnin’ on you, folks.

Pheasants are not native to North America.  Originally native to Asia, the Romans began to introduce them into other parts of Europe and the Mediterranean, including England and Ireland, and they became very popular as a game bird in the places in which they were established.  The first known population of them was introduced into North America sometime around 1881, although it is almost certain that pheasants existed in North America long before that time, as European and Asian settlers almost certainly brought domesticated pheasants to the Americas before then. 
The old "catch them under a pyramid when they go to eat your coin" trick

Regardless of how they actually got here, they thrived in many parts of the Americas; particularly in the plains states and the states with steppe type climates and habitats.  This means that they exist throughout most of the land west of the Mississsippi, with the exception of mountainous high-elevation areas, and coastal areas too wet for ground-nesting birds to properly hatch chicks.  They exist East of the Mississippi, also, but I’m lead to believe that they aren’t as widespread there. 

There are several species of pheasant,  but the only one that has been successfully introduced to North America is the Common, or Ringneck Pheasant.  Males are about the size of a small chicken, and have beautiful, iridescent plumage, red wattles, and long tails.  Females are a little smaller than males, generally, and are brown and very plain looking. 
A male pheasant and a female pheasant.  Kind of foppish, ain't he?  

As I said before, I hunted them in an area called the Channeled Scablands.  Click here for more information on that area. 

There were seven of us, hunting with four dogs.  We had two German Shorthaired Pointers and two Golden Retriever flushing dogs.  We got a bunch of birds, and had a very good time. 
Dutch, me, and her most recent victim.
My pointer, Dutchess, is going on eleven years old now.  You hear from people from time to time about those “once in a lifetime” dogs, and Dutch is absolutely that dog for me.  She’s been my best friend for over a decade, and as I’ve noted before, I’m starting to notice that she’s slowing down with age, and it hurts to see that.  She’s a tired doggy this morning, and had to be coaxed with great effort to get up out of her bed so she could go outside to relieve herself.  She was stiff and gimpy the whole morning. 
Pictured: Tired bird dog...
I never understood it, but, as Kipling so aptly put it, it isn’t like we have enough sorrow in this life, that we need to set ourselves up for more by giving our hearts for a dog to tear.  Yet I did it, and plan to do it again.  A new pup is likely going to enter our family within the next year or two, since the old dog can help train the new one, and I don’t know how many more years Dutchey has left in her.

Despite her advancing age, she still loves to find those birds, and gets very vocal about it if I do not proceed fast enough in initiating the hunt once we’ve reached the hunting grounds.   

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