It’s no secret that interest in upland bird hunting isn’t what it used to be. Dwindling bird populations, ever-shrinking habitat, fewer places to hunt, less time and space to raise and train gundogs and the primacy of deer and turkey hunting have all combined to push the sport out of the spotlight. But at least one writer thinks all we need is a little star power to reinvigorate that waning interest.
From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Bob St. Pierre:
“…Could Brad Pitt make pheasant hunting as popular as he made fly fishing by starring in the film classic, A River Runs Through It? Last night I was thinking about Brad Pitt. Not in an Angelina Jolie or man-crush way, but as he relates to the public’s perception of fly fishermen. So here’s my theory: The Premise: When Brad Pitt starred in the film A River Runs Through It, he did for fly fishing what Trout Unlimited couldn’t accomplish in decades of solid conservation effort: he brought fly fishing to pop culture and fishing with a fly rod became romanticized.
Support for My Premise: Following Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Norman Maclean’s hero Paul in the movie, the public’s view of fly fishermen has always been positive…”_
_”…Pure and simple, Brad Pitt enabled fly fishing to be viewed in a positive light through the prism of popular culture.”
“…The Point: I’m very proud to work for Pheasants Forever. I know that our chapter volunteers, field biologists, and conservation partners are improving wildlife habitat, cleaning our water resources, and creating hunting opportunities every day._
_Unfortunately, successful films like The Wedding Crashers give us bird hunters a bad name. We’ve got enough hurdles in front of us with intensified land use practices, diminishing natural resource budgets, and dwindling hunter numbers that it’d be awfully nice for Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and the non-hunting public to recognize pheasant hunters as the nature loving, give-more-than-we-take, intellectual, and original conservationists that we are. I won’t be holding my breath for that to happen though.
No, we don’t need Brad Pitt, but it couldn’t hurt. ‘Till then, we’ll continue the fight and hope Angelina takes notice.”_
It’s an interesting premise. With all due respect to Norman Maclean, flyfishing, and other worthy hook-and-bullet pursuits, in terms of pure artistic and literary quality nothing comes close to hunting birds with dogs. So why hasn’t Hollywood given upland bird hunting the “River Runs Through It” treatment? Because it involves scary guns? Because you can’t easily avoid the sometimes uncomfortable reality of death by shooting and releasing a quail or a pheasant like you can with a trout?
Who knows? But here’s the question: What bird-hunting book would you like to see on the big screen?