Hunting & Heritage  |  05/25/2023

The Best Days


Take somebody new pheasant hunting and you will reignite your own passion

By Britta Peterson
Learn to Hunt: Creating New Hunter-Conservationists for the PF & QF Mission

Everyone has one, I think: That friend that inspires you in some way to learn more, do more, try new things or can rekindle your enthusiasm with their newfound passion. And if you don’t have a person like that in your life now, I sincerely hope they’ll be there soon. 

I am lucky to have a good buddy Paige and her husband Mason who are those friends to me. In the last several years these two have gone from somewhat non-outdoorsy folks to full-blown, avid hunters and anglers who have been on successful hunts out west for mule deer and antelope, fishing trips to Canada, and deer and turkey hunts right here in Wisconsin. 

Paige and Mason impress and inspire me with how much they’ve learned and done in a short time, all basically figuring it out on their own. 

Their most recent adventure was their first-ever pheasant hunt, joining me in northwestern Wisconsin. We had an absolute blast, and I think we gained two more into the ranks of upland hunters.

We had just gotten the first measurable snowfall and the world was white, new-looking and beautiful. Our family has permission to hunt several sloughs and field edges on farms near my home place, and we did a drive-by to start the morning. 

Almost immediately we saw 8 birds on a fenceline, 6 of which were roosters, all their bright colors vibrant against the new snow. We walked in along the fence line toward the slough, cutting pheasant tracks the whole way and observing the soybeans stubble all tore up from bird activity.

We got toward the end and birds started piling out of the wetland. On the neighbor’s property. We watched about 25 birds flush from the cattails and shrubs. I looked over, somewhat bummed and disappointed because we didn’t get any shooting, and Paige says with a big grin, “That was awesome!”

And it sure was. Nothing like a new experience for a buddy to keep things in perspective for me.

We had a lot more action throughout the morning, but the birds weren’t holding and many were flushing wild. The new snow, and hunting wily December birds, was making it tough to get shooting.

But we did eventually find a spot where I had just said, “There are A LOT of fresh tracks here,” when birds, including many roosters, erupted out of a grassy brush pile right at Paige and Mason’s feet. They both got shooting. While my dad was the one to bring a bird down, we were pretty sure a few pellets from Paige slowed it up! 

Our group ended up with 2 birds that day, and I was once again reminded how much I love pheasant hunting with folks new to the pastime. The harvest is always exciting, for sure. But more than anything, getting to watch my good friends experience something new, and enjoying the camaraderie, is something that never, ever gets old. 

Paige and Mason have added another kind of hunting to their list, and a couple days later informed me they had found some public hunting areas they were going to try during the last few days of the season. 

Paige and Mason’s passion and willingness to learn is contagious. I am glad I got to take them out for a great day in the field. If you are able to share upland hunting with friends, please do. It is something you won’t ever regret.

Be sure to take the Mentor Pledge … and also share your story with us.

Britta Peterson is a Farm Bill Biologist for Pheasants Forever in Wisconsin.