We had a rifle. It was my first husband’s rifle. It took just one bullet at a time since it was really a competition rifle. It wasn’t intended to do anything but hit targets. Paper targets.

It was a very pretty gun, though and my son still has it. He keeps it clean and oiled, but I don’t think it has been loaded in more than 20 year. Maybe more.

One of my last photos developed in the darkroom, the wood-stove in the camp in Maine

We used to take that rifle with us up to Maine where we went camping. We didn’t build the site. It belonged to a friend of my husband’s parents. It was a big, open one room cabin with six beds stacked up on one wall with ladders to get to the upper ones.

There was an old Home Atlantic wood stove that was the absolutely easiest and most effective wood stove I’ve ever used. There was a gas range and gas lamps. No electricity when we were there, though it did arrive later and along with it, came pollution as people emptied their washing machines into the lake. All that grey water ended up killing many of the large mouthed bass and driving away the loons.

But this was before electricity, when everyone lived quietly without loud music and no washing machines. We did have a weather radio that ran on batteries.

One day, it was time to “go hunting.” This meant taking the rifle and a handful of bullets. Nailing a paper plate to a fir-tree, then killing the paper plate. And there we were, killing that plate deader than dead.

Along came the pheasant. He walked slowly up to the tree where we had nailed the target plate. He stood there. And waited.

A long argument ensued. Should we shoot the pheasant? We could eat it, right? Except no one had any idea how to clean a pheasant. Or even pluck one. And what if we shot it, but it didn’t die? Would someone be willing to shoot it again?

No one was willing to shoot it in the first place, much less twice.

My version of caged birds

Another long consultation. After which, we all got together and virtually pushed the stupid pheasant into the woods. He didn’t want to go. For some reason — you’d have to ask the pheasant what he was thinking — he wanted to hang out with us. We were, apparently, more interesting than his usual crowd.

When finally we convinced him to go away and please, don’t come back, we packed up the gun, gave up on targets, picked a few more blueberries and had fresh corn and blueberry pancakes for dinner.

No pheasant that night — or any other night. Just not our thing.

And this is why arming teachers to shoot the guys with assault weapons is such an incredibly stupid idea. I bet none of the teachers could shoot the pheasant either.

See it on Sue Vincent’s site!

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

32 thoughts on “NOT KILLING THE PHEASANT – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Every Swiss able bodied man has a rifle at home because he is a soldier. Killing animals is a hobby some have. My father-in-law had a hunting hobby and we have a photo somewhere of my mother-in-law standing over the first and only deer she shot. This belongs to the past thank goodness. We even rescue insects that by mistake enture into our home.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am anti-insect, but I’m afraid of them so it’s just self-preservation. Otherwise, I’ve never killed or tried to kill anything. Neither has Garry. We once talked about having guns since we both worked late at night and had to travel alone at night. And of course Garry was in the Marines and had weapons training. We decided (1) guns are expensive. REALLY expensive, or at least good ones are and we didn’t have that kind of money to waste on guns, and (2) we’d probably have a fight and shoot each other. No guns. We also keep away from the cutlery.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. I last held and fired a long gun (an M-1) almost 60 years ago in Marine Corps Basic Training. I hit the target.
        I’ve never again had the desire to “lock ‘n load” unless you consider momentary thought flashes about a certain idiot someone.


  2. What an insightful, but also funny post – and those magnificent photos! BRAVO
    In Switzerland, most men hand their weapons back when their time of possible ‘calls to duty’ are obsolete due to their age (I think it was something like 32-35). My ex (loooong time ago) threatened to shoot me once – but he cooled down when I said ‘wouldn’t it be terrible to end in prison for shooting me when we could just divorce’?! 😉
    I carry nearly every lost creature outside but shot a meter high in the air yesterday when I discovered a diseased spider of considerable size in an empty tin vessel….


      1. Very interesting Garry. Children may mistakenly thing that it is a display of strength and courage but at what cost? I think Peter did that once while hunting (killed a pheasant) and he was filled with regret.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Leslie, I fortunately never went through that kind of experience. I felt strangely remote when firing the M-1 in Marine Boot Camp training. No John Wayne heroics. I just wanted to do well in target practice and not invoke the wrath of the Drill Instructors who were already fed up with my “attitude”.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. The gun debate is one of those things that will never be solved to everyone’s satisfaction. Today on the radio I heard that teens across Utah are walking out of their classrooms in a show of solidarity against guns. I hope they have more effect than all the endless waa..waa…waaing going on by people, nominally in charge, who are thinking of doing something as stupid as arming teachers. And no, the teachers I know (a few of them) could NOT shoot the pheasant either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think “just arming people” because you think they should be is ridiculous. MANY of us can’t kill anything. Just not built that way. Teachers don’t train to shoot intruders. That’s not what teachering is about.


  4. Must admit I do like to eat them but this one so gorgeous I’d be chasing him into the wood too! Definitely agree with you though about arming teachers – dangerous and daft solution which fails to even begin to address the problems


        1. A proud bird. Maybe the one I was served WAS chicken. Who could tell? It was one of the most expensive restaurants in NY and I was so impressed to be there, they could have been serving me pretty much anything. It was all about location, location, location.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Was probably ‘farmed’ rather than wild pheasant. The ones kept tend to be fed corn and so mild in taste whereas the wild ones eat what they like! Also probably not hung for long as again most people find the taste too strong if they are.

            What fun though to go to such an amazing restaurant.


            1. It was Garry. I was leaving for Israel and he wanted me to remember him, so what better than the most exclusive restaurant in NY? After that, he also wrote me almost every day. For 9 years. I’ve never seen him write another letter, before or since. It just took him a really long time to propose.


  5. I was surprised to discover that many of the schools around here already have permanent security officers. Some even have permanent police precincts in them. This is to stop the drug trafficking mainly (I guess) and the students from fighting among themselves. When I went to school myself, no such notions were even conceived of.
    The colleges and universities around here have heavily security. Cameras everywhere – patrols. It’s incredible. I saw a group of guys come on a campus one day and they were standing in front of the campus library. They were immediately surrounded and interrogated by security officers. They were up to nothing. It’s Intimidating actually – to see these armed guys walking around. I never felt any need for such and never felt unsafe on these campuses.
    Till now. Maybe there’s something I’m missing??
    I also wonder that if the media didn’t have a policy of ‘Our Right to Konw’ and would stop reporting about such events, that they would actually occur. As most of them seem to be copycat incidents. ?? Not likely that’s going to happen.


    1. Nobody showed up at our schools with automatic or semi-automatic rifles to kill us. I honestly don’t think ANYONE imagined that such a thing was possible — especially at an elementary school. Times have not changed for the better.


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