Pheasants Forever Presents

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Ripples is a short film about finding community in the uplands, and the profound difference one person can make, just by putting positivity into the world.

Podcast EP. 184: Behind the Scenes of “Ripples” with Douglas Spale & Erik Petersen

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The following is an excerpt from “Ripples,” written by Erik Petersen.
This will be featured in the upcoming 2022 Fall Pheasants Forever Journal of Conservation:

“As we get older and more experienced with wingshooting, we tend to forget just how much the stars must align for everything to come together and end up with a bird in hand. We take that muscle memory for granted – mounting shotgun to shoulder, following the target, leading it just so... But being a parent to budding hunters reminds us of just how difficult that process can be when you’re starting out.

This was the case with Kasa. He was 12, and had missed a fair number of birds in the field his first year. The gun was awkward and he had a hard time mounting it in time for the flush. But now we were into his second season afield, and I had found him a smaller gun that fit him better.

And yet, he still struggled to put it all together in time to get a shot off. He was beginning to get frustrated. As a parent, I was walking that fine line between letting the thing be hard, and not letting it be so hard that your child loses interest.

Thankfully, he got a morale boost when our new friend Douglas Spale, and his father Fred, joined us in Montana for several days of hunting. You may remember Kasa from a story I wrote in the Fall 2020 issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal.

He’s adopted from Ethiopia, and an earlier article I wrote titled “To Make a Pheasant Hunter” talked about the need for more diversity in the uplands. How, I had asked back then, could I expect Kasa to find a home in the uplands, if he didn’t have role models that looked like him?

My answer came in the form of Douglas. Like Kasa, he too had been a Black kid adopted into a white hunting family in a small town full of people that didn’t look like him. After reading my essay, Douglas reached out and generously offered “I can be that mentor for Kasa.”

When Douglas Spale, a Black man adopted into a mixed-race family from Nebraska, hears a request for more diverse role models in the upland hunting world, he answers the call.