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12/27/01
Hickory Grove Hunting Club
Bob & Sean Morgan with Bob's friend Mike, Leo & James & Patrick Wright, Leo & Clay Doyle, Stefan & Me
Low 20s, windy

The long awaited Christmas break pheasant hunt with the Morgans, Wrights, Doyles, & Claypools at the wonderful Hickory Grove Hunting Club. Stefan passed his hunter safety certification test and was able to get his hunting license and a sweet Remington 870 Express 12 gauge pump over the summer - he also blew a couple of hundred clay pigeons from the sky!

We got to the club around 9:00 am and quickly sorted ourselves out. With six shooters we split into two groups - the Morgans & Wrights in one group with Jerry the Britany Spaniel Wonderdog and the Claypools & Doyles in a second group with Jim the guide and Hank the German Shorthair Wonderdog. We drove from the farmhouse out to one of the many fields at Hickory Grove and split the two hunting parties with a ridge between two fields.

Our group had taken only a few steps when Hank locked up a flushed a hen, which I promptly missed three times. Moments later Stefan missed a bird then finally Leo Doyle dropped a nice cock with a solid shot. I missed two more birds and Stefan missed before we had a community kill. I finally connected with a solid shot as a nice cock flew straight away but I soon realized that we were throwing some serious lead in the air. I left Stefan with Leo and Jim and went back to the truck to stock up on ammo before we got much further out. While I was gone Stefan connected with a solid shot, his first pheasant. Suddenly we were all in the zone, jitters gone, and shooting straight behind a hard working dog in a field full of birds.

Birds everywhere, lots of shooting, and my memory of individual birds is a little jumbled as I write this. A few distinct shots stand out in my mind. I had a few of nice shots, one going left, two going right, and one going overhead - I connected as the bird was over me following a shot by Stefan. My favorite moment of the day - as Hank locked up on a bird Stefan said, "Dad, I've only got one shell in my gun!" I replied, "Better make it count." And he did, with as solid a shot as we had all day. A little later Leo Doyle did the same thing - the bird actually accelerated away from the shooter following the impact of the shot. Later, we lost Hank for a bit and I walked around a little pond to see if he had locked up. Suddenly I heard six shots well away from my left, where the Morgans & Wrights were hunting, and saw a big cock pheasant moving top speed toward me. I got up and on him and folded him nicely. Finally, we worked our way along a wood line with me on the inside and Hank locked up on a hen. She jumped and quartered away, flying low and tight through the woods like a grouse. I connected with the 2nd shot at about 50 yards as I moved to catch up with the speedy pheasant. Leo made several nice shots today, as well.

We ended up at noon, with 14 birds in our group and 7 birds in Bob's group! We met back at the trucks and drove down to the farmhouse for the famous Hickory Grove lunch. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, fresh pies and breads, etc.! An excellent and timely break and perhaps Stefan's favorite part of the trip (okay, me, too)!

For me the day had three wonderful qualities. I had the chance to spend some time in the outdoors with my son and some great people in a wonderful setting. I personally had a really good shooting day following a really bad start, which I needed. After the first 15 minutes or so, I shot with confidence, hitting seven birds in a row. But most important, Stefan had his first hunting success, with two nice pheasants to show for his work this summer. He started out nervous and unsure of himself, missed a couple of birds, kept his chin up, and started connecting. He certainly knows how to pump shells through his 870 and, with today's experience under his belt, he'll be unstoppable our next time out! And most importantly, he had a great time.

Summary
  Loren 7 pheasants killed
  Stefan 2 pheasants killed

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