My next-door neighbor Jim was one of those young guys who'd bought into the "get big or get out" theory of farming. The day before pheasant season opened, Jim had his 1,000 acres combined, and all the stubble turned to black dirt save for the few strips of unpicked corn left standing in the fields. Packed into those picket fences of corn was Jim's crop of young pheasants, disoriented by the sudden removal of 980 acres of cover-feeling as you or I would a couple of days after a tornado took the roof off the house. Saturday morning a small army of Jim's friends would gather at his place for a very noisy hunt, after which Jim's wife would feed the threshing crew. The harvest complete, Jim would go out after lunch ("dinner" where I come from), combine the remaining strips, and plow them under. By sunset, Jim's hunting season was over. Jim's operation represents the extreme, but similar versions of this opening-weekend pheasant harvest take place throughout the Midwest. It's a social gathering, a family reunion, and a gang hunt in the old, communal farm-country tradition. Roughly half the birds killed in a given year are bagged during the first two weekends of the season, yet the gang hunt, like all harvest operations, leaves plenty of crop in the fields. What the harvesters miss, gleaners like me try to pick up.