Celebrating the Big Little Things: Pheasants
Acrylic and latex on panel
The Chinese Ring-necked Pheasant, known for its colorful plumage and outstanding taste, was released in the United States in Oregon 1881 through 1884 by Owen Nickerson Denny, an Oregon native and American Consul General to Shanghai. Seventy-five years later, on Saturdays each fall, my Dad, my brother, and I would hunt pheasants in the ditches and slews around Dodge and Cummings Counties while listening to Cornhusker football on the car radio. It was our goal to “limit” before noon. Much of Nebraska is gridded with gravel roads delineating sections of Townships. I learned to drive on those lonely tracks at a young age. My first instruction was “stay out of the ditches, just keep the car between them.” Frequently, there were four farms per section, eighty acres of corn, milo, soybean or maybe some fallow fields “land-banked” and full of pheasants. The farming was much messier than today, the ditches were wide and wild with weeds. Fence rows were weedy as well. Not long ago I was asked by a recent transplant from a further western state if it was hard to manage for pheasants. I told him to keep 15 feet of weeds between every field. On Sunday, my Grandmother would fry pheasant and porkchops, make potato dumplings, sauerkraut, and gravy, and bake apricot and poppyseed kolaches. About a dozen “regulars” would show up to the house for Sunday pheasant in the fall.
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