My recent hunting trip with a few buddies brought up a conversation between my father and me that's been going on for years. Ever since we took up shooting, which we did together, bird hunting has been something we've wanted to make a father son adventure.
We try to spend a lot of time together, whether it be on the golf course, stream side, taking in a Hawks game or doing some shooting. No matter the season, we'll find reasons to get together.
With the gun club my father belongs to in full swing, a group of shooters was putting together a tower shoot at a hunt club up in southern Wisconsin. I knew a few of the guys going and knew it would be a great hunt. I shot with these guys in league shoots for a number of years, but haven't gotten out more than a handful of times over the last two or three years. So I was hoping to knock the rust off quick, but was confident we'd have a blast either way.
Tower shoots are made up of 14 stations, surrounding a tower, in which birds are released in groups. Some will fly out and give you a target, while others will float down in to the trees. All the shooters are about thirty five to forty yards away from the tower and are in blinds about six feet tall. We were recommended to bring a case between the two of us, and told to shoot at anything close. There was to be a lot of action.
Compared to the last time I witnessed a pheasant hunt, this was going to be quite a bit different. We had teams of dogs and guides ready to pick up the birds we knock down and there seemed to be action everywhere. It was very different than a bird getting spotted and spooked out. You really had to anticipate how the bird was going to fly and have the patience to wait until the birds come close enough. Improved modified chokes could only help so much.
Progressing through the stations, we began to get the hang of it and really started to get the feel for leads and were able to hold back long enough for them to come in to range. We realized this around stations ten and eleven though, leaving us short on ammo and coming in to the best blinds. We chuckled as we knew we had knocked down our share of pheasant, but didn't realize how many shells we had gone through. Maybe we were't such great shots after all!
As we cracked the tape on another box to split, we filled our pockets and were set for our last station. With the last few birds released the horn sounded, we emptied our guns and gave each other a high five and a big hug. We had just shared our first successful hunt. A father-son bonding moment that I'll never forget. As we walked back in we replayed the best of our shots, the birds we knocked down and how we needed to look at our calendars and get another hunt on the books. Cracking the top on a couple of Hamm's we reconnected with the guys and traded stories and pheasant jerky. As things wrapped up I kicked back and soaked it in. Times and memories like these are best shared and getting to do so with my best bud is always a blast.