There are some people whose hair will stand up in anger when the long-gone pheasant population is mentioned. It is difficult for those under the age of 55 to truly understand just how common it was to watch a cockbird cross the lawn or to flush one from a local cornfield. Some dogs would be working in these cornfields with the hunter. You would see the pointer freeze, exposing the bird’s hiding spot, and the flush dog would be hot on the bird’s tail, only to watch it cackle and fly where it was safe from the annoying canine but exposed to the waiting shotgunner.
Two things happened last week that revived my memories of flying birds and the trusty side by side scattergun. First of all, to our astonishment, we watched a male Ringneck Pheasant casually stroll across our yard. We live a long way from any gamelands or, for that matter, cornfield. It jogged my memory back to when such a sight was common. That was before the bottom fell out. Everything from farming practices to disease have been blamed for the demise of the wild pheasant population, but it doesn’t really matter for the wild flocks are long gone.
Another reminder of the pheasant came from George Furda, who invited me to see the pheasant- and quail-raising operation done by the Westland Sportsmen Club. This was a reminder not only of the birds but of the individuals and clubs that sacrifice so much time and money improving all outdoor endeavors. Furda and Chet Krcil of Claysville are two who were there that day. Krcil is active in Pheasants Forever and President of the Washington County Sportsmen League. He works hard, along with this club, to improve habitat for these birds. Krcil does a lot of things toward this end, preparing for the yearly sports show at the mall, attending meetings in other counties and notifying other clubs of various goings on. These people do these jobs with no expectation of thanks.