Last week I had the awesome privilege to go Pheasant hunting on the Deer Creek Shooting Preserve with fellow blogger Spider Rybaak (to read his post from the hunt, click here). We were guided by Deer Creek Owner, Stan Oullette. The Deer Creek Shooting Preserve is located on Route 3 just outside of Port Ontario in Pulaski. Deer Creek also has hunts for chucker partridge, quail, turkey and deer. For more information on Deer Creek call Stan at 315-298-3730.
The only hunting I’ve done that has involved birds of flight is waterfowl hunting, and my record is about 1 out of 891,238 birds. If you count the birds I’ve hit with my car then that jumps the ratio up to about 5 out of 891,238 birds. When Spider invited me to go pheasant hunting I was excited but lacking optimism. I just figured it was another chance to fail at something and have not only one blog written about it, but TWO!
The questions I asked before the hunt were, “Do I need to wear full camo, what kind of choke do I need on my shotgun, and do I need to bring my license?” The answers were, “Full camo is not necessary, use a modified choke, and no, licenses are not needed on private hunting preserves.” Another interesting fact about private hunting preserves is that younger hunters are allowed. Deer Creek allows youth hunts for ages 10 and up.
The day of the hunt I was extremely nervous, not just because of the number of missed shots I was anticipating, but because of the chance I might end up shooting Spider or Stan, or with my luck, both. (*Note: Spider and Stan are both alive and well. I did not shoot either of them or myself so you can read the rest of this post without being worried).
I had no idea what to expect as the hunt began. Stan’s amazing bird dog, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon named Belle, was already off on her way to find a pheasant. She had a bell on her collar and as soon as the bell stopped we knew she was on point. I figured we would walk around for a good half hour before Belle found her prey, but I was wrong. Within five minutes, only about 100 yards away from the Deer Creek Motel, she was on point. I had no idea which way the bird would fly up, and in which direction it would take off. I am used to watching waterfowl that are already in the sky flying in a straight line. Without a second thought a bird swooped up right in front of my eyes and flew out straight in front of me. I hesitated and then let off my first shot and hit the bird! It all happened so fast but when I put the gun down I heard Spider’s enthusiastic hoots and hollers and I knew that I had killed my first pheasant… on my FIRST TRY! Perhaps the curse was finally broken!
Belle sped off to hunt down the pheasant, wounded or not, she was going to find it. She did, and behold - the first kill of a pheasant hunting novice.
I’ll admit, taking down the first pheasant might have gone to my head a little. I was knocked back off my high horse when I missed the next one, and then the next one, and then the next one… I hit one more pheasant total but I didn’t kill it. That’s where Stan came in. He’s got a great shot and if anyone he guides misses or injures the bird, he shoots him down so the bird doesn’t suffer.
The element of surprise was my biggest downfall. Every time a pheasant shot out of the brush I jumped a mile then I had to regain my composure before shooting. Even when I saw Belle on point, and told myself over and over, “get ready, the bird is going to fly out any second” I still jumped like a ten-year-old watching a bad Freddy Krueger movie.
After two hours in the field we called it a day. Everyone had things to do and I don’t know how much more missing I could have taken. In total we killed five pheasants. (I should use the word “we” lightly since Stan did most of the work). Stan was generous and cleaned the pheasants for me. I heard that pheasants are delicious which means I have to learn how to cook them, and if you think I’m bad at hunting, you should taste my cooking.
Stan, guiding me through his preserve.
Belle, carrying back a hit pheasant
Stan and Me, holding up a couple of pheasants during our hunt
Spider, Stan and Belle taking a break on the gorgeous Deer Creek property
Showing off all five pheasants, pretending I killed them all :)
A successful hunt!