October 12, 2012

I have mentioned several times in my blog that I was born in Indiana, and what wonderful memories and close ties I have with my relatives there.  But when I was five I moved to South Dakota and became a girl of the prairie--wide open spaces and a horizon that goes on forever.  Fields of flax, golden sunsets, snow mounds so high we pretended they were the Alps and climbed them on our way to school, and .... pheasants.  Driving in the country we would spot the famous Tinker Town concrete pheasant...a symbol of the rugged outdoor/hunting lifestyle of my adopted state.  And since my dad was a rugged outdoor/hunting type of guy, October meant one thing to him...pheasant hunting.  As the poem title below implies, there is more to pheasant hunting than just throwing your gun in the car and heading to the country.  Oh no, you must FLUSH out the pheasants from the fields!  This involves taking all your children, lining them up in the corn rows and telling them to start walking until you heard a heart-stopping whrrrr and a bird, wings flapping wildly, would fly up from his hiding spot right in front of you.  Then, of course, you were supposed to drop flat on bristly cornhusks while the hunters took aim.  This was not my favorite weekend occupation.  But now, looking back, I'd give anything to be tramping the cornfields with my dad again.  
Pheasants, by James A. Meger

Flushing Pheasant

Robert Barboza

They will of course have heard you coming
long before you ever see
or hear them,
even though you imagine yourself
being as sure-footed and quiet
as a fox in springtime

You may step ever so lightly
down the well-worn deer trails
silently push away the clinging branches,
always be careful to stay
cloaked by the sound
of rushing water

But they will of course have heard you coming
long before the male bolts out from the brush,
exploding up and away in an instant,
into the trees to distract you
with beating wings
and angry cries

And if you patiently back-track
from the launching place, carefully follow
his muddy steps in the damp ground,
with luck you might discover
where the hen sits hidden
on speckled eggs

Lying half-buried beneath her,
cradled in the softest nest of grass,
breathing slowly through their thin shells,
feeling safe and warm and invisible,
and they will of course have heard you coming
for a long time now

Tinker Town Pheasant, built in 1950

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