A Pheasantful of Memories

A ring-necked pheasant, in all it's colors of glory.
JanTemmel / Pixabay

Where would we be as outdoorsmen, and as human beings, if not for the people in our lives who took us hunting?

It is a question not so easily answered, though at least we get to ask it. Sadly, a steadily increasingly group of young people never get that chance. In most cases I can only grieve for the loss that they will never fully understand, while staring upward and thanking the heavens for the sportsmen of my youth.

It was only a natural way to be in the world in which I grew up. My father had been a hunter all of his life, and his father was too. To be true so were my uncles and cousins, my brothers, friends, and our neighbors. There was always someone to go hunting with and a shotgun was never far out of hand.

We hunted small game and deer and birds of all kinds, but pheasants – pheasants were a special creature. There were not many to be found in our corner of the uplands, and those that remained were wary and smarter than smart. It was a big event to bag a hefty, redheaded cockbird.

If you are like me then there is no doubt that you remember your first cackling rooster rising like a shimmering phoenix in the sky. The memory of that long-tailed vision burns brightly in the mind, ready for access at a moment’s notice. Mine is a mind full of ring-necks.

I hold my treasure trove of remembrances most dearly, yet it occurs to me that It is only right to return the favor. I am more than willing to share that long list of images in my head, though I would be most happy to help you gain your own.

One thing can be said.

Take a boy, or a girl, hunting – today. It is a responsibility and an honor, and in fact a debt that must be repaid.

We can only be as strong as the sum total of our experience, and I cannot comprehend a life barely lived without the solid grounds of woods and field beneath the boots. The pursuit of wild things is a foundational activity, built upon the realities of the natural world and the spirit of the quickening heart. It is an opportunity to learn some core moral values, while becoming part of something much larger than one’s self.

We owe it to our mentors to carry the torch; to help ignite that undying spark in the imagination and energy of the next generation. I can think of no greater reward than to be remembered fondly in the thoughts of the grateful and fortunate soul of a hunter.

It is only but a moment of memory, and a towering pheasant, away.

A rising ring-necked pheasant towers toward the sky

Michael Patrick McCarty

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“If Christmas came on the Fourth of July and it also happened to be your birthday, you might have some idea of what a first pheasant is like on a clear, crisp Maryland day, with the hills behind, and the tender-green meadows reaching out to black-green blotches of trees, and nothing very much to do but watch a couple of expert dogs work over the noblest Oriental stranger we have in our midst, while two mellowed old gentlemen do not interfere with a boy’s passionate effort. They were not shooting; they had been there before. It took me another thirty years to find out how much fun you have not shooting if there is somebody else around who wants to shoot it more than you do”.

-From The Old Man and The Boy by Robert Ruark

A hunter and a young boy hunt upland game

See our other favorite Robert Ruark Quote at the bottom of our post Here

*We generally have for sale some collectable copies of Ruark’s books. Please email for more information.

Read More About Black Canyon Wing and Clay HERE, and a recipe for marinade.

Shotguns, young gunner’s, and Pheasants Forever!


Wondering what do to next with your bird? Try This:

Pheasant Burritos

  • 2 pheasants (cut into pieces)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup fig, plum, or apricot jam
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in a little water until soft, then chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, with stems and seeds removed and then ground
  • 2 minced garlic gloves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 8 large flour tortillas

Brown pheasant pieces on both sides in broiler or hot skillet. Boil remaining ingredients(tortillas excluded) in a covered sauce pan. Add the pheasant and cook on low heat for 30 minutes or until done. Let cool, then pull the meat from the bones and set aside. Stain the sauce and return to heat. Reduce over medium heat by about 1/3. salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with warm tortillas, topped with pheasant meat and sauce.

Enjoy with your favorite extras and wine, then prepare to get ready for your next pheasant hunt.

*This recipe taken from At Mesa’s Edge: Cooking and Ranching in Colorado’s North Fork Valley by Eugenia Bone.

It’s a lovely read about life in this unique area of northwestern Colorado, with some wonderful recipes using the area’s plentiful bounty. It includes some wild game recipes too.

We have some copies for sale if so interested.

the front cover of At Meas's Edge: Cooking and Ranching in Colorado's North Fork Valley by Eugenia Bone with some pheasant and wild game recipes
Eating What You Catch

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