Two weeks ago, I took part in the best bachelor party with which I’ve ever been involved. Two weeks before my brother Josh’s wedding – set for this Saturday, November 1 – my brothers and cousins (except for our older brother Danny) went down to T&C Wildlife L.L.C. in Arcadia, Kansas, and took part in a hunt modeled after what I’ve heard referred to as a European pheasant shoot.
First of all, I think it speaks volumes, and I’m very proud to be a part of a family that would choose to go on a hunt for a bachelor party. Complete credit goes to Adam, my cousin and brother’s best man, for organizing the event. It couldn’t have been better thought out.
The only regrettable thing that happened over that weekend was my brother Danny getting stranded eight hours from home, along the Texas-Oklahoma border, and not making it back. That was out of anyone’s control, though, and as crappy as that was for Danny and all of us who hadn’t seen him for quite some time, the chance to be together will occur again this weekend at the ceremony.
But back to the actual hunt. I think anyone, before arriving at T&C, probably had the preconception – as I did – that this would be a sort of Disneyland hunt. When you hear about a hunt like this, where purchased birds are released into the air and let fly among more than 20 shooters strategically placed encircling the point at which the birds are released, it’s kind of a turnoff.
It’s even more of a misrepresentation to call T&C’s style a European pheasant shoot, because at Europe shoots, birds are released from a tower, which conjures up an even more Disneyland-like perception. T&C simply used trucks to position cages on a hill in the middle of the blinds to release birds.
It doesn’t sound like hunting, more like just shooting. But I’m here to tell you we had a blast. Adam hunts all over the world, my brother Josh hunts a lot as well, and most of us had hunted wild pheasant and game birds in western Kansas. No doubt about it, the challenge in the wild is part of the allure of any hunt. But this was the best way to get people – like my cousin Andy, who never hunts but made the best shot I saw all day – who don’t have much experience or will to hunt out in the wild. Heck, all we really had to do was walk from station to station and wait for the whistle to blow signaling the beginning of another round of birds and blasting.
The folks at T&C said they let loose around 350 pheasant, 100 ducks and 50 partridge. I would venture to say of those birds let loose, far less than half escaped, although the number of fired shots per harvested bird had to have hovered somewhere around five blasts per bird.
It was one of the most fun experiences of my hunting life, and admittedly part of the appeal is the ease with which you can do this.
And I wouldn’t call it unethical. Maybe it’s not the most honorable way of doing things, but after all the shooting was over, the birds were gathered by dogs, and cleaned and packaged back at the T&C lodge.
Our afternoon was spent watching football, shooting skeet at the lodge’s skeet range, and laughing at, and along with, our closest friends in the world. To my cousins and brothers I say thanks, just for being the type of people who would gather in this setting (and thanks to T&C Wildlife L.L.C.), rather than in a casino or some other, more risqué setting typically thought of for a bachelor party.
Caleb Regan and his wife, Gwen, live in rural Douglas County, Kansas, where they enjoy hunting, fishing, and raising and growing as much of their own food as they can. Caleb can’t imagine a better scenario than getting to work on a rural lifestyle magazine as a profession, and then living that same lifestyle right in the heartland of America. Connect with him on Google+.