Veterans day weekend, the Susquehanna Valley Chapter of Pheasants Forever held a free paid hunt for five veterans. I was lucky enough to be asked if I wanted to be one of the five, it was a great feeling just being asked to join this type of hunt. A few days before the hunt another spot opened up and I was able to get a buddy from work, Dave, on the hunt as well. For the rest of the week during work we talked about how we were looking forward to this hunt. We counted down the days and before I knew it I was getting up at 0500. They wanted us to be at the farm where the hunt was going to be before 0800 so that we could sit around and learn some information about this chapter of the Pheasants Forever and not only did they organize this amazing hunt but they even brought orange juice and donuts! They even had certificates printed out and signed by the state that they gave to each verteran, I was not expecting this.

Brian, one of the chapters personel that orginized all of this, broke the hunt down into three rotations. Dave and I had to wait for this first roation to go, as we waited near the trucks it just built the anticipation for the next round. The first group was walking for a bit before we heard any shooting, then it gradually got to be more and more. We guessed they had at least found the roosters. As we waited there, one of the owners of the farm came driving up with a load of roosters that were going to be set out for the next round of hunters, us! It was kind of an odd feeling meeting the soon to be baged roosters, ha. We were able to talk to her for a bit and we talked about how things were ran there and how things worked. She told us that they took pride in raising the best birds that they could, they wanted for all the roosters to have nice long tail feathers. She wasn't lieing, those roosters were some fine looking birds, specially since I had been on a pen raised pheasant hunt before and I wasnt very pleased with the experience.

As we were talking with the owner, the dogs come running up over the hill and shortly after the group comes walking up. They had a good first hunt, each of the three hunters bagged a rooster. As the dogs took a break we talked about how it went and even looked at some pcitures that the chaperones took. By that time it everyone that was going on the second hunt was ready to go and the dogs couldnt wait to get back out there. We headed out and walked a few hundred yards through some grass until we got to an area of tall grass and then we spread out and decided we would push to the other side of the field where some trees were. About 20-30 yards into the walk the dogs got on their first point... "Alright everyone get ready!" Brian said. This was the first time that I hunted with pointers and I must say, it sure is a beautiful thing to see a pointer standing still pointing straight at a bird in cover. As we closed in to the area where the two dogs were pointing they began to track and they were walking to the edge of the grass near where I was! The rooster was running, we couldnt see it but with the way the dogs were acting it was for sure. Soon the edge of the grass came up and the dogs stopped, they were looking right at a patch of grass on the edge. When I got to within ten yards the rooster flushed! "Ok, dont want to look bad on the first rooster, take your time and make the shot" I thought. "Hes close, not so much lead." Ka Boom, and down the rooster came, the dogs made a good retrieve and brought it right back to Brian. Great looking rooster! Sweet, the first rooster is down, lets get these other guys some action...We head back into the grass and began walking about. Not 50 yards into the walk and the dogs are on another point! I was hoping it would go left toward the other guys, as we closed in, while still on an addreline rush from the last rooster, i flushed. A nice left to right shot, 20-25 yards away a nice simple shot...Ka Boom, nothin... Ka Boom, saw him wobble in the air I musta hit him that time...then he just kept on flying. Although he didnt go far, he landed again in a field and just stood out in the open 75 yards away. One of the dogs and this ole rooster were just having a stare down, ha. We thought the rooster was hit good enough that he wouldnt be able to fly again, so we headed toward him. When we got within 50 yeards, that little bugger took back off and headed to an area that we couldnt hunt. That was the start to the "bad"...

We walked the rest of the grass and a tree line with noting coming up. Then we got to the next grassy area, we spread back out and began to walk it. Soon the dogs were on another bird, this one didnt want to go anywhere. Brian walked up to where the dogs were pointing and nothin flush, were the dogs on some old scent? Brian began to kick the thick grass in the area and next thing you know he kicks a rooster in the head! Ha, that made it flush! This time I didnt raise my shotgun as to let the other guys have a go at it and it went left right toward Daves line of fire and as it got to the correct range he let a shot go and the bird came down after it. That was his first pheasant, his smile and the look in his eyes were exactly how you would think a person that just got their first rooster would look, ha. He was a happy camper, so you put it away and we kept on walking. On the other end of the field the dogs got another point, this time Brian and I slowly moved in and we both go to the area where the point was and again, nothin. We look at eachother and turned back around, we walked around the area a little bit and was asking the same thing as before. Then I saw move ment under some grass that was lying down, "Here!" as I kicked the grass another rooster lifted out of the grass. It just blows my mind how colorful a rooster is and how well it can hide in some yellow grass! This one went left again and between the other hunter and Dave they dropped it soon after. We walked another field after that where I decided to redeem myself and take a shot, another miss, reload! adjust lead, squeez...and wouldnt you know it, Dave squeezed the trigger a split second before me and got another one! What in the world, ha! We even saw one more, we called this one lead butt, all three of us shot at this one as it flew at an agle and all three shots we saw feathers drop from the rooster. He flew into some woods that Brian and I pushed so that the rooster would flush back out towards the other hunters, this was the first time I had ever saw a rooster take off and run into not only one, but two trees as he flew out of the woods, ha!

The last hunt went well, we got all six roosters that were put out. Everyone got chances to shoot and of course I couldnt hit the broad side of a barn, ha! There were a few questionable ones where a few of us shot at the same time and the bird dropped. All in all it was a great hunt with us getting 15 out of the 18 roosters that were put out, meaning each person got to bring home three roosters. It was an over all great even that was put together by some great people! It wasnt so good for me per my crappy shooting, but it was still a great time being out with other veterans and other hunters. I truly am greateful that Brian extended the offer to me.