Most of my hunting excursions are a bit on the red-neck side of the fence. But I work for a great company that believes in the hunting traditions of Texas (and the U.S.) and is happy to offer those different experiences to its employees. So… I had the opportunity to go on a canned pheasant hunt at Hidden Lakes up above Tyler towards Dallas on I20.
Up front, let me say that our hosts were nothing less that gracious and accommodating in providing an unforgettable experience.
Like many hunters I confess I considered the canned hunts something the city folk did. It was something I wouldn’t get a chance to do myself. But again… my employer offered and I am not one to turn down an opportunity to try something new.
I admit I never got a glimpse of a bill, so I can only comment on the experience itself. It was a lot of fun and it was very humbling.
They put us at various stations around a grove of trees, told us the rules (mainly don’t shoot the dogs or guides) and then released the birds from a station in the center of circle the trees. The birds pretty well had to fly over somebody with a gun. Of course sometimes they flew to a safe height and sometimes they just landed in the trees before they got to us. BUT… most of the time not. Most of the time somebody got a shot and if you didn’t get the bird. Well… it was your own dam fault. Many (not half, but many) got away… Every so often they would stop the process move us to the next station and repeat the process.
Because of the bit of red-neck in me I decided to bring my hump-back (Belgium made) Browning with high brass #6s (the same thing I shoot squirrels with). Maybe it was a statement… I actually own a Berta made for bird hunting. Anyway, let me say for the record I made some brilliant shots. And for the sake or accuracy let me say I made an equal (at least) number of bad and embarrassing shots. Like I said, fun and humbling.
Towards the end of the hunt a special prize pool bird was released with a long flowing ribbon. It flew a station or two over and the company lawyer (and his shooting partner) lit it up. I don’t think any bird that day received the business end of that many shots. They definitely got him.
So… if you get a chance, give it a try. Yes, I know it’s canned. Do the real thing if you can. I can remember the great quail hunts with my dad as a boy (before the quail died out in East Texas). But go ahead do the canned hunt too if you can. Have the right attitude, enjoy yourself, and take home some pheasant meat.
Advise? Full Choke, lead ’em… when you can’t figure out why you’re missing… lead ’em some more.