By NEIL WAUGH
On my cosmic fly-fishing trip to Tuscany final spring I was sitting on the terrace of my agriturismo sipping a vino locale when I believed I heard a familiar but perplexing sound.
Naw, couldn’t be and went back to enjoying the russo.
But there it was once again. Only a tiny additional down the slope amongst the olive trees.
Then a third time across the road that leads down to Florence.
I couldn’t be that delusional.
It was the distinct “cock-cock” of a male ring-necked pheasant.
And as it was nesting time in the pheasant globe, announcing his presence and generally saying “calling all you ladies this cowboy desires to dance.”
Later on the quick train to Ravenna, as the vineyards and pasta wheat fields whizzed by, I saw various much more white-collared necks poking above the trackside poppies.
Who knew there had been pheasants in Italy.
This is not precisely breaking news to the typical Italian.
The bird has been about due to the fact the Romans brought them from Asia to hunt and consume.
And like aqueducts, arches, gladiators, Latin and taxes, the Romans brought pheasants with them wherever they conquered.
Which is how they got to Britain, at some point North America and genuinely are the Game Bird to the Globe.
A rapid Google search brought up half a dozen pheasant outfitters in Tuscany and Umbria.
Release birds, I suspect. But then once again that is the way of the globe these days with pen-reared roosters creating up a majority of the pheasants shot each and every year in Europe and considerably of North America.
Even right here, with the 28,000 cock pheasants released by the Alberta Conservation Association most likely creating up the bulk of the bag this fall.
Simply because if we didn’t have cage birds there wouldn’t be considerably of a pheasant hunting season what with the large gaudy birds disappearing from northern Alberta decades ago and not precisely prolific in their southern tier refuges either.
There was a large wind out of the northwest and every single time the Jeep passed a garbage truck heading back from the Riley landfill it shuddered and threatened to jump off the highway.
I turned off at the Holden corner and cruised south to a pheasant release web page of six quarter sections of Ducks Limitless land named Daysland.
The “rental” dog Stella with me and my old fox red Lab Penny, who follows much more than she hunts these days.
At the gate, I let the Labs out, poured a box of five-shot Imperial cartridges into my game vest pockets and we had been off.
With 3-year-old Stella – who has power to burn – on point and Penny riding drag.
The one particular significant knock on release birds is that they are tough to pattern.
Other than roughly calculating how far they will fly from the release truck and hunting there, it becomes a needle in a haystack game.
While the odds are shortened exponentially with the help of an educated bird dog’s nose.
Stella place her’s to function instantly but didn’t get genuinely birdy till we hit a hayfield corner exactly where the dog dove into the poplars and a large red bird came cackling out.
I missed with each barrels.
Then a further bird rose from the woods and hovered above the treetops. As well close I told myself and by the time it came to shoot it was gone with the wind.
Was there a third bird?
The answer was yes.
I shot but wasn’t certain I hit it. Till Stella came out of the aspens with a smile on her face and a bird clamped in her mouth.
We rounded the corner and the dog reduce a fresh scent.
The rooster broke ideal to left and when the Ruger’s barrel caught up with it the second half of my limit tumbled into the grass.
Quickly to be browned in olive oil, then stewed with tomatoes, red wine, onion, garlic, diced carrots, celery, rosemary, and a bay leaf into a fine “cacciatore.”
Which in Italian suggests “hunter.”