Pheasant Hunting in Iowa

As most of you know I grew up in Iowa and every fall my dad and I would go pheasant hunting.  We didn’t always have the best luck finding the pheasants but it was always fun to tromp through the weeds and watch our dog work the fields.  Since my family has moved to California we haven’t both been in Iowa during hunting season for almost seven years.  Every year we would talk about it but one thing or another always came up.  This year we decide to go ahead and book a trip and let everything else work its self out.

Pheasant Walking Along Side the Road

I also wanted to visit Ken and Claire, who I haven’t seen since they moved from Los Angeles to Iowa.  While I was in college I would do construction work for Ken and help Claire organize family counseling workshops.  I also spent my Friday nights over at their house eating pepperoni pizza and watching TV.  I’ve learned a lot from them over the years and they have shaped my career and outlook on life.

While Ken and Claire were in LA they were working on the plans for the house they were going to build in Iowa.  It was fun to finally see their house after years of planning.  One of the incredible features of the house is the hand hewn wood beams.  The beams were made without any electricity by an amish carpenter in Missouri.  The drill that was used to make the holes were actually powered by a team of horses.  The beams look incredible and have an interesting story.

Amish Hand Hewn Beams

Ken is more of a big game hunter, but who can pass up a nice walk through the Iowa countryside?  The past few years have been rough for pheasant hunting due to loss of habitat and poor weather conditions.  The first place we went was our old hunting spot less than a mile from our old house.

Without Leaves on the Trees or Snow on the Ground, Iowa is a little bleak

My Dad and Ken

We surprisingly flushed two roosters within range without a dog but were not able to get either of them.

The second day we went to Highland Hideaway Hunting, which is a hunting reserve where you pay for a field to be stocked with pheasant.  It’s kind of like fishing you know the pheasants are there but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get any.  We were also fortunate enough to visit their pheasant operation.

I think the freed or wild pheasant like to taunt the caged ones.

The red thing on their beak prevents them from hurting each other.  Pheasant roosters have an amazing array of colored feathers.  I recommend clicking on the photo to see an enlarged image.

We also paid for two dogs and a guide which really helped comb the fields and find the down birds.  The guide and dogs were really good and watching well trained dogs work a field is always exciting.  Someday I hope to get a hunting dog that I can train and use in the field but of course that will probably mean I should live somewhere I can go hunting regularly.

During our hunt we asked Ken about the 20 gauge he had been using.  He told us a story about how his dad taught him responsibility and hard work.  When he was pretty young his dad branded a calf that marked it as his.  After raising and taking care of the calf it was sold to market and Ken got to keep the earnings.  He went right to the local gun shop and bought the 20 gauge that he still uses today.


I am always amazed by how well guns are made, the stories behind them, and the history they carry.  The shotgun my dad used during this trip was mine that I had bought.  During the one month winter break in college I returned home from California and did drywall with my dad.  Most of the money I earned that month I took and used to buy a 12 gauge semi-auto Beretta.  It has been a great gun but also has sentimental value to me as a reminder of doing drywall in the dead of winter with my dad.

Ken and Myself with Our Earned Shotguns

I was really hoping to get more photos during this trip but as I mentioned in my Quail post I usually get caught up in the hunting excitement and the time passes too quickly.  Next year I hope to have the discipline to pick up the camera and get some great hunting action shots.

While in Iowa we also had dinner and brief visits with some family friends where I showed them wedding photos and exchanged stories.  We were only there for a couple days but it was fun to reconnect with a few people and live out a dream to go pheasant hunting in Iowa.  I hope this dream becomes more of a tradition.



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  1. Grand-PA Vic’s avatar

    Hi Nathan. Enjoyed the pictures and the memoirs. It is funny how men remember their first rifle or shotgun. I have never sold any of the firearms, that have been passed down through the family to me. I am happy that I have Sons and Grandsons that I can pass my guns on to. I could consider making the hunt next year, if I can still pick my feet up high enough to get through the weeds!



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