Pheasant Hunting

I was getting ready for a pheasant-hunting trip the other day, and it occurred
to me that the getting-ready is a wonderful part of every trip we make. As I
threw together guns, shells, hunting clothes and food, I would find myself
thinking about where I was headed. I envisioned the farm, the homey kitchen, the
pole in the farmyard where we hang our birds, the dogs bouncing in anticipation
of the day’s hunt. I could see the land. I could hear the action working as I
slipped a shell into my shotgun. I could see my dad, my brothers, my hunting
companions of more than 20 years.
All of this is part of what is known about the coming trip. You know
the food will be good. You know the long trips out and back will be full of
stimulating conversation. You know the dogs will be squirrelly the first night
but will sleep well after that, tired from days in the grasslands.
What you don’t know is what the actual hunting will be like. Will most
of the corn be harvested now? Will there be plenty of birds? Will you shoot
well? Will the weather be cool enough for the dogs to work well? Will ducks fly
in the mornings over the little slough near the farm house?
And so, every hunt becomes a sweet blend of both the known and the
unknown. For a while, I thought maybe the known aspects of the hunt were what
pulled me back each fall. And then I figured, no, it’s the unknown.
But I think it’s the way they’re both woven together that is so
compelling.