pheasant-hunting-in-Colorado

Kyle and Alex before our pheasant hunt

Pheasant Hunting in Colorado with a New Hunter  It was a cold, gray day in Colorado on January 31st, with a lot of snow already on the ground.   That day the snow came down in flurries, and heavy at times throughout the day as I took my son Kyle and his friend Alex on a pheasant hunting trip in southeast Colorado.  It was not a great day to be driving on the slippery roads, but this was a special hunt; it was Alex’s first hunt of any kind.  As my readers know, getting people into the outdoors is my mission, and for that reason alone, this was going to be a special day, especially for Alex.

Back in August Kyle came to me one night and asked me if his friend Alex could stay with us for a few weeks, Alex was going through some tough times, and his family had abandoned him, leaving him to figure things out on his own at age 24.  Alex is the older brother of a guy that Kyle went to school with and a lacrosse teammate, so I was familiar with the family, but I didn’t know anything about Alex.  I was reluctant, but I said yes, Alex could stay with us.

I can’t say that I regret that decision, Alex is a great young man, but having two young adult males living in my house is a nightmare.  They are both very into fitness training, and they eat like horses; it is impossible to keep enough food around to feed them.  And they are both pigs when it comes to cleanliness; I was constantly bitching at them to clean up their messes.  But we settled into a working relationship over time, one where I tolerated more than I wanted to, and one where they learned to be a little more responsible.

I felt bad about what Alex was going through, even though I never asked for all the details.  He is a likeable guy, with a lot of drama in his past and current life.  I wanted to help him.  Last fall Kyle took him up to the mountains to do some shooting with several of my guns, and they went camping a few times.  Alex began to express an interest in the skills that Kyle knows; like survival skills, shooting, hunting, camping, and fishing.  Alex would talk to me with a thirst for knowledge to learn from me about what I know and what I had taught Kyle.  While I had a hard time dealing with another sloppy male living in my house, the fact that a young man wanted to learn these things from me over-shadowed any inconvenience.

When we pulled my truck into the snow covered field to begin our hunt, I could see the look of anticipation on Alex’s face.  He was using my Mossberg 535 pump shotgun with the long barrel, and as we geared up at the bed of my truck I could see that he was a little bit nervous, yet trembling with excitement at the same time as he loaded shells into the gun.

We were hunting with a guide, Lee, and his two black Labradors, and the dogs were whining to get out of their pens in the back of Lee’s truck and chase birds.  It is an amazing thing to hunt birds with dogs, and to hear the howling of those dogs waiting to get out intensified the moment of the beginning of the hunt.  I looked at Alex, in his borrowed hunting gear and gun, and I thought “This guy will be a hunter after today.”

We headed south along the side of a tree-covered gulch for about a quarter mile so that we could walk back through it in the opposite direction, spreading out the three of us hunters and the dogs working through the brush, timber, and tall grass.  Sure enough, the first pheasant that flew up, Alex shot with precision; a single shot and a bird was on the ground, soon to be retrieved by one of the labs.  As we continued through that stream bed the dogs flushed up several pheasants, and we all had good opportunities to shoot them. I got a few, Kyle got a few, and Alex shot a few, I wasn’t keeping track.  But in the end, Alex shot more birds than anyone, he did great!

We spent the next two hours scouring the rolling hills of that country looking for more birds, and we found a few.  You can watch a video by clicking here and hereWe ended the hunt with a walk through of the creek bed and found a few more there.  In the end we had 12 pheasants and one chukar, an amazing day of hunting!

pheasant-hunting-in-Colorado

From left to right: Alex, Kyle, birds, and Bear

But it wasn’t so much about the amount of birds that we harvested; it was more about the experience.  Not only did I have a great day in the field with my son, we also brought a new member into the hunting community, and he had a great experience.  I know that day we had formed a bond that will never be forgotten.  Everyone remembers their first hunt, and everyone’s first hunt leaves a lasting impression on that person for the rest of their life.  I was glad to be a part of that for Alex.