It was lunchtime of the second day of our annual 'pheasant opener'. We were done for the weekend with 35 odd birds in hand for the 7 of us and our assorted dogs. While driving I reflected about the trouble I'd had putting myself in a position to shoot cock birds during the Saturday morning session. A succession of hens had been pushed by Layla and my only chances had been sharp momentary glimpses of rooster bum. Layla had at least got rooster taste in her mouth by whipping in and grabbing birds that Craig had shot; I was hunting with him and his new dog Jock and Jock was being out-experienced by Layla. He'll learn.
Craig had 2 birds aboard by the time the group split into smaller teams. He and I, Jock and Layla worked pockets of blackberry and gorse. Twice cock birds ran ahead of me and refused to fly. Twice I yelled out and they only increased their pace and outdistanced me. Finally a bird flushed my way and I took him, a really nice bird, with an overhead shot. Layla retrieved the rooster and posed for a shot.
Near dusk Layla was pushing into a large gorse thicket. She was lit up and when the bird jumped I had time only for a snapshot. Feathers flew but so did the bird. My last sight of it was as it curled around some trees. Jethro was well above me and walked down to tell me that the bird had fallen stone dead 150m away. I took his directions and moved towards where he said the bird lay. Almost there, a shot rang from 100m away. I spun and a bird hurtled over my shoulder, I snapped a shot and the pheasant hit the ground then performed an almost perfect back flip - flipping pheasants indeed.
It had been a memorable day in the field.
That evening we drank cold beer in front of a raging fire, which after a day's hunting is an unbeatable combination in my opinion.
My luck turned somewhat on Sunday morning. I killed a limit and a paradise duck in a mostly solo hunt. Back at base we hung the birds for the annual photo shoot and then set about cleaning them.