A Pheasant Hunting Fraternity
One of the club’s original founders, Dr. Charles W. Cooper of Holts Summit, has attended every annual hunt since the club started 38 years ago.
“It’s a fun thing, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Cooper says. “There are all kinds of characters there, and they come up with all kinds of different things, but we’re very tight and close, just like brothers.”
Cooper, known as “Doc,” is probably the club’s most respected member. He’s the one first-timers have to walk with to learn how to hunt pheasants correctly, and he’s the one who tells them what a serious responsibility it is to be carrying a gun out in the field.
“We have a man here with a black bag, we have a preacher, but we don’t have a mortician,” Doc says at a recent hunt, after he’d lined up the newcomers for their final safety lecture before they hunted with club members for the first time. Even before they’d arrived at the field, those potential members had to watch an hour-long film on hunting safety.
Long-time members also receive constant reminders about hunter responsibility. Every group of hunters has a designated safety coordinator who delivers a safety lecture before the hunting begins.
Whenever members are standing around before a hunt or gathering for a break, they have to have their gun broken down or the breech open. At the end of each hunt, they have to show the safety inspector that their shotguns are empty and the breeches are open.
The safety coordinator also makes it clear when shooting is to stop. In a video of one of the group hunts, the safety coordinator tells the hunters, “When we get through with the hunt down there and we say, ‘That’s it!’ No more shooting. I don’t care what comes up. You’re not to shoot that gun.”
Each group also has a hunt coordinator who keeps the hunters organized and in safe positions as they work a field.
“They line them up; they pair them up,” Doc says. “Let someone make a misstep, they will be told.”
Insistence on safe hunting has kept the club accident free for all of its 38 years.
“If we have one accident, it could ruin the whole thing,” says Club Vice-President Alan Cooper of Jefferson City.
“That’s why we watch out for each other. If you are drinking beer, for example, you aren’t going hunting.”
Cooper says that for most of the