A Pheasant Hunting Fraternity
When members of the Pheasant Hunters of America, Inc. take to the field, local pheasants take notice. The birds keep their heads low, but their ear tufts shoot up and their feathers flare as they nervously cock their eyes from side to side. It’s easy to imagine some of them wishing they’d gotten their affairs in order.
During the group’s annual hunt, 40 or more disciplined hunters and a platoon of bird dogs may work the same large field. The hunt coordinator posts blockers at the end of the field to intercept birds that choose to run instead of fly and at the sides of the field to ambush sneaky pheasants trying to dodge around the advancing line.
You might think that even the most nimble game bird wouldn’t stand a chance against such a concentrated effort, but exceptions occur. They come up—wings whirring and big as chickens—hover for a second then glide off toward the horizon, unruffled by a staggering number of shotgun blasts.
The hunters who fired watch in awe as if they’d witnessed a miracle. The rest are either chuckling or “giving it to” the ones who missed.
“That’s a beautiful bird,” one hunter remarks.
“And he’s still flying,” says another.
The teasing is offset by plenty of sharing and helping. The same guy who minutes ago proclaimed you couldn’t hit a pheasant on a tree limb, will praise your next shot and help you stuff the bird in your game bag.
“It’s like having 40 best friends,” Club President Steve Mannery says. “They’re just a good group of guys who you know would do anything for you.”
The Pheasant Hunters of America formed (incorporated) in Missouri in 1969. The Cooper and the Gilmer families from southeast Missouri started the ball rolling. The sons from those families went through school together and gained additional hunting buddies at college and in their careers. When Jesse Gilmer’s job took him to Nebraska, he told his friends about the great pheasant hunting there, and the group started a tradition of an annual hunt.
By the time they incorporated as a club, the members were spread across five states: Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, California and Nebraska. The founders blended the initials of the fives states and called themselves the MOILMICANE Hunting Group.
The member’s patch created by the club’s founders contains a misprint, spelling the name MOLIMICANE, instead. It says something about the club that through the years, the club never changed