A Pheasant Hunting Fraternity
membership hunting is just a part of the total experience, anyway. The trip gives the members a great excuse to get together.
“It’s totally social,” he says. “It’s not all about the birds. It’s about brotherliness and having a good time with friends. Some guys only go hunting once or twice in three days, and we have one member who doesn’t even bring a gun.”
A dress-up dinner caps off each annual hunt. Here’s where stories of who killed what, who pointed what and who did what are told and retold, and nicknames like “Cleanhead” and “One-Shot Pete” are indelibly stamped on members.
During a recent dinner a member received tongue-in-cheek praise for “preshooting,” knocking down pheasants before they could fly ten feet.
On another occasion, Doc noted the unusual circumstance in which 27 shots were fired at a bird that flew away with nobody acknowledging a miss, but every shooter claiming to have hit a pheasant that finally fell after 17 shots.
At the dinner, members give tribute to their fellow hunters with numerous awards that range from Sharpest, Best- Looking Hunter to Minister of Cognac, from the Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator Award to the Mustard Gas Award, which is given to the member who often could be found standing alone.
Dogs are half the hunt, and they aren’t forgotten at jacket night. Dog stories run rampant, and members covet the Top Dog award.
A new dog named Rock won a recent Top Pup award for managing to both point a bird and catch it before it could flush. The presenter suggested to his owner, however, that he should look into having Don King promote the dog’s next fight.
On their last day in the field of each annual hunt, the members of the Pheasant Hunters of America gather for a solemn salute to fallen members—seven at the latest count.
After a prepared tribute, the speaker reads the name of each departed member and a shotgun is fired so that, as the speaker says, “they will hear the salute and will know that we still love them.”
The ceremony serves as a poignant reminder that for the club to go on, new members must replace the old ones.
Mannery says the club is reaching out to include inner city kids or kids who might otherwise go through life and not know about or have a chance to experience being a part of a group enjoying a wholesome outdoor activity.
Mannery said the club’s policy of requiring new members to be invited by a current member doesn’t rule out bringing in such youngsters.
“Everybody knows some kid who would benefit,” Mannery said. “I contend that if you get a kid involved in something that’s positive or you can get them around positive people, you have a real good chance of doing some good. I can tell you for sure that these guys will always lift you up, one way or another.” end of main article
Members of the Pheasant Hunters of America are keenly loyal to their dogs. One club member, holding his struggling Brittany spaniel while others swabbed it with tomato juice, kept praising the animal for its brave attempt to retrieve a live skunk.
Another member stood up at a recent meeting and requested that the club formally recognize his dog, Duke, with a certificate for being able to hold point on a cow.
“I just happen to own the best dog,” Club President Mannery says. “His name’s Stitch, from Smooth Simon West. Stitch will do anything but pluck a bird, and if you don’t like plucking, he’ll try it for you.”
Doc Cooper, hearing this report, sighed. “To tell you the truth,” he says, “if I had that dog—Steve’s Stitch—I wouldn’t feed him. He can’t see; he can’t hear. I raise Brittanies, and I know … I just wouldn’t feed him.”
Doc says that he has been blessed with the top dog in the club. The dog’s name is Major, and he’s 6 years old.
“He’s so good,” Doc says, “that the only thing he doesn’t know is how much salt and pepper to put on the meat.”