If you miss the glory days of pheasant hunting, or have a youngster that you would like to expose to wing shooting, consider booking a hunt.

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Family pheasant fun
(August/September 2006 issue of Valley Outdoors)

Valley Outdoors/Larry Hendricks (Outdoor Writer) Preserve owner, Dave Showers, is shown here with a ringneck rooster being prepared for release. Notice the fine long tail on this bird. (photo by Karen Hendricks)

Having started my hunting career back in the early 1970's, I can't help but mourn the loss of the ringnecked pheasant in Pennsylvania. Though I missed the hey day of 'rooster' hunting which occurred during the 50's and 60's here in Central Pennsylvania, I was fortunate enough to catch the tail end of what is fast becoming a lost sport.
     Today's pheasant hunters are left with few choices if they wish to pursue birds. Among them are traveling to the mid-west where changing land management practices have brought bird populations bouncing back. Option number two is to pursue birds stocked by the Pennsylvania Game Commission - an enjoyable but often over-crowded hunt, or making a visit to a regulated hunting grounds.
Shown here is the Hendricks family with an afternoon's bag of both rooster and hen pheasants.     Last February at our annual Valley Outdoors Cabin Fever Expo a gentleman by the name of Dave Showers introduced himself to my wife Karen and I and asked us if we would be interested in being his guest at Dry Valley Farm, the regulated hunting preserve that he recently opened. A follow-up visit by Dave was made and soon a hunt was scheduled for my wife Karen, daughter Jamie and myself.
     Arriving at the farm we were greeted by Dave and given a tour, which included setting birds to be hunted later as well as a visit to the flight pens where birds are given the opportunity to strengthen their flying abilities. These large holding pens consist of a high wire fence to protect the birds from predators plus an elevated netting to give the birds plenty of air space.
Hunters visiting Dry Valley Farm have their option of flushing birds on their own or by bringing along their own bird dog. (photo by Jamie Hendricks)     Changing to safety orange vests and hats we then prepared to start the day's hunt. Though pheasant hunting is often more enjoyable with a dog, today we would be on our own. So lining up, we began to start a slow walk through likely cover hoping to flush birds. Halfway through the first push a long-tailed rooster burst from cover, cackling loudly as he towered up. One quick shot and my wife Karen nailed the handsome rooster.
     While admiring the mature cock pheasant, Dave explained that he prefers to use pheasants of the Mongolian strain as they are much larger than the typical Chinese pheasant and are known to be strong flyers. The bird, a full-grown male was handsomely colored and sported a long tail and long curving leg spurs - all signs of a healthy specimen.
Allow Dry Valley Farm to help you re-live the glory days of pheasant hunting. (photo by Karen Hendricks)     As we continued hunting, the next flush gave yours truly a chance to humble himself when I missed the bird, not once but twice. Fortunately I would have an opportunity to redeem myself later. The third flush of the day was also a rooster which my daughter Jamie soon brought to bag.
     By the end of the hunt we managed to bag a nice assortment of both roosters and hens, offering not only ample sport, but excellent table fare as well.
     If you miss the glory days of pheasant hunting such as I do, or have a youngster that you would like to expose to wing shooting, consider booking a trip at one of the growing number of regulated hunting preserves on the east coast. I'm sure once experienced you'll be wishing to plan another hunt. For more information on Dry Valley Farm contact Dave Showers at 570-524-4915. I'm sure he would be happy to answer any questions you may have.


(Larry Hendricks is an avid outdoorsman from Union County)
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