Wednesday, October 13, 2010

my first upland hunting trip

I’m new to this, painfully new. I just completed my Hunters’ Safety course this past summer and had only aimed a shotgun at clays. I had no plans of coming home with a ringneck, but the possibility had me excited on the dark drive to our meeting spot before dawn. When I pulled my truck to the parking area on the side of the road, I was greeted by what I would learn would be the classic pre-hunt scene. My friends Steve, Tim, and Tim’s son Holden were outside their trucks, talking with coffee in their hands and Steve’s dog, Cayenne, lunging at the end of her leash. I was an emotional concoction of excited and nervous. I kept it to myself that I hadn’t felt this way since Prom Night. This was a whole different dance though, and the borrowed 20 gauge would’ve looked awkward with my teal dress from high school.

At dawn we were on the move. Cay exploded into the thick undergrowth as if letting go of her leash was a trigger in itself. We moved in pairs along the pathways and then grew bolder, walking right through the tall weeds and burdock. (I instantly learned to appreciate my borrowed chaps.) Within ten minutes of frantic, high tailed pacing the dog flushed a bird up in the air. It was the perfect shot right in front of me, but in the chaos of the moment I was too nervous to concentrate and missed by feet. My left thumb was bleeding like crazy from being caught in the safety latch in the frenzy. Not only did the bird escape, but I was wounded. Let’s hear it for me.

I kept my eyes and ears open. As the hunt wound down, we started moving back towards the parking area, and it was here we came across a veritable nest of pheasants. Within twenty minutes we took four birds, one seemed to come down every few minutes. When slightly off to my left a bird presented himself I took my shot and watched him drop. The thrill was remarkable. The excitement indescribable. I had taken a bird on my first hunt.

Now there’s a smoked pheasant with my name on it in the company fridge, literally. Tucked in behind the Tupperware salads and soggy sandwiches is a zip lock back with a little brown bird, and “Jenna” is written across it with yesterday’s date. Tim smoked it last night with the other four birds we took Saturday morning at dawn. What a delicious affirmation of a morning spent with friends, and a new tradition started in high grass. I doubt I’ll ever forget it, but If I need a reminder, the smoked pheasant ravioli I’ll have for dinner tonight should do it. And if I remember correctly, it’ll be a far better meal than what was served on Prom Night.

20 Comments:

Blogger Geek 3000 said...

never worry about your aim with bird shot! And we recently got a smoker, best 200 spent in years. Perfect for smoking homegrown chickens!

October 13, 2010 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

I think I liked it better when you were a vegetarian.

October 13, 2010 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger IanH said...

If you are an adrenaline junkie, wait till you try big game! Congtratulations!

October 13, 2010 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger JeanineH said...

Big congrats. I bagged my first bird last year around this time and just haven't taken the time to get the license for this year.

So much better knowing you can look after yourself doing these things, and really, better than the industrially raised poultry we buy at the grocers who lived in who knows what kind of conditions. Least the birds had a chance of getting away, even at the expense of some of your own skin.

Keep it up, this is real, you may have just convinced me to go get my permit for this year though, have been seeing some birds not far from home, don't worry home is 10 miles out of town, one of 2 places on a mile long dead end road, no neighbours to worry about other than other farmers livestock.

I do need to look into getting a smoker, I keep asking about jerky (to me that's thin strips of meat dried/smoked but everyone around here presents you with formed meat sticks like a pepperette) so I may have to make my own.

October 13, 2010 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

Such good eating! With every mouthful you can feel the satisfaction that you shot it yourself.Don't forget to spit out the birdshot.
So are you going to fill your freezer with venison? That would be the best but a lot of work to butcher it.
Have you processed the rabbits yet?

October 13, 2010 at 5:51 PM  
Blogger twistie said...

Ditto Dog Hair! :-)

October 13, 2010 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger finsandfeathers said...

CONGRATULATIONS JENNA!!! I've been pheasant hunting numerous times in Nebraska and never shot one. You do know you can tie some awesome flies with those tail feathers and cape, right?

When I grow up I think I want to work for Orvis too.

October 14, 2010 at 1:45 AM  
Blogger KathyB. said...

Good for you! I have been thinking of taking up a Hunter's Safety course so I can hunt with my husband and add to his supply of pheasant , grouse, and maybe venison
in the freezer.

Congratulations!

October 14, 2010 at 3:59 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Are hunting posts offensive?

October 14, 2010 at 5:59 AM  
Blogger Toni aka irishlas said...

Teal and steel - it's all the rage for proms...

October 14, 2010 at 8:01 AM  
Blogger dogear6 said...

Hunting posts are not offensive. They are a further continuation of your story.

Thanks for sharing. Oh, and you are not the first one to hurt themselves like that with the gun :) That's why the safety class warns to be careful about that!

October 14, 2010 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger quiltaholic said...

Definitely NOT offensive! My son and I have scheduled our first hunt together in mid November. We're going after Canada Geese. I can't wait!

October 14, 2010 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger treehuggers kitchen said...

I agree, not offensive. I used to hunt as a kid, not much now. Congrats on bagging your first bird. :)

October 14, 2010 at 1:21 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Awesome!

October 14, 2010 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Congratulations! Hunting isn't offensive, it's the way out fathers built this wonderful country.

October 14, 2010 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Hunting posts will be offensive to some people, but remember you can't please all of the people all of the time.

Personally, I've no problem with it, particularly when I think about the fact that wild animals taken in a hunt probably suffer a far more lenient death than if they were taken by a wild predator.

In the natural world, things die, and they die violently. Humans have to eat too, and we're evolved to need the long-chain proteins found in animal flesh.

How much more civilized we are when we take an animal life quickly and humanely, after the animal has lived as close a life to what is natural for them as possible. Factory farmed animals can't be included in this category of course, so it makes more sense to support growers and producers that treat their animals humanely than to bag the idea of eating meat altogether. Lots of ground-dwelling animals are killed in combines and other harvest machines, so those vegetarians who think that by not eating meat nothing dies in the pursuit of their meals are just deluding themselves.

Hunting for food that you're going to eat is perfectly civilized; hunting just for sport is not. The more you do it, the better you'll get at it, and the better you get at it, the less your kills will suffer.

By the way, smoked pheasant ravioli sounds pretty awesome. Bon appetit!

October 14, 2010 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger Erica said...

I agree with previous posters- Hunting posts are NOT offensive! You have actually inspired this meat eater to want to learn as well! Just wish I had some Orvis-y friends here in California to take me along! Awesome job Jenna, and I can't wait to hear more!

October 14, 2010 at 9:27 PM  
Blogger Steven_10 said...

Hunting posts are certainly not offensive here, you'll find your number of comments varies, you strike a chord with certain topics and others folks just don't want to comment on. It's your blog, post about hunting, post about knitting, it's all stuff that you're doing in this homesteading adventure you're sharing with us. I'll take the posts that aren't right up my alley along with the ones that are.

You're very good about posting regularly and I never know what to expect posts about, makes it interesting and the one blog I constantly follow, others some haven't been updated in a month or more, and those that have been have 1 or 2 comments nothing like yours :)

October 14, 2010 at 9:56 PM  
Blogger dogear6 said...

Paula gave a really great explanation of why I did not find the hunting posts offensive. My father used to tell me the same when I was little and he would hunt. It wasn't until I got much older that I realized how true it was.

I do not hunt myself. It has nothing to do whether I find it offensive or not, it simply does not appeal to me.

October 15, 2010 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Jospeace said...

I loved your post. in fact after 16 years of being together i might give it a shot with my hubby. He's been wanting me to but I think I've been afraid. AND after reading your blog regularly it has inspired me to try my hand at blogging my journey...

October 15, 2010 at 2:33 PM  

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