The Pheasant Under the Tree

The previous discussion of shot bouncing off birds - or not - reminded me of a story. I was back home from college on Christmas break. We had all been out somewhere and came back to the house to find a very live, very indignant rooster pheasant pacing around a cage under our Christmas tree.

Pheasants were scarce that year. My dad wanted to kill and cook it for dinner. My sister wanted it to be free. I wanted it to be free, too, but partly on the chance I might run into it when I was hunting sometime.

We outvoted dad and let it go. It flew off into the creekbottom. It turned out to be my cousin who had left the bird under the tree. He had shot it with lead 5s, it went down in heap, apparently dead. Later, it came to. Once Shaun realized the bird was completely unhurt, he caged it and brought it to our house.

So, while I still don't believe pellets bounce off the wingfeathers of ducks and geese, sometimes pellets do bounce off bone, or at least, they can strike glancing blows that knock birds out without doing permanent harm.