I set my Chocolate Cherry phone in it's usual cubbie on the dash and upon looking up I caught a glimpse of a pheasant, gracefully trying to dodge the front license plate of my car. Well, he dodged it...and plunged into the right headlight instead, leaving it fully intact with feathers sticking out of it's seams like a pin cushion. I think I saw a look of terror on his face in slow motion as I contemplated slamming on the breaks or swerving. I knew, in those few moments, that neither option would be the safe one, being that the ditches were steep and I hate breaking hard if I don't have to.
I felt bad for the poor guy. His fellow pheasants were probably in the bushes calling "C'mon, faster! She's going to hit...(clunk)...you." I could just hear his buddies clucking on in Pheasant-ese, "Did you see what happened to George? Boom, and he was a goner!" And so on and so forth.
I picked up my phone again to inform Jim of my head on collision with an unlucky pheasant.
"Was it a male?" He asked. "Or a hen?"
"I think it was a boy pheasant. He was all kinds of pretty colors and darker than a hen is."
I looked in the rear view mirror and saw no trail of his demise. "Jim, I think he's stuck under the car! Gross!"
"No, he's not. He's probably in the ditch somewhere."
His assurance that there was no bloody bird trailing under my car soothed me. "I want to find him! And if he's any good, I want to keep him and eat him for supper!" I surprised myself with my own words. One minute before, I was creeped out by the thought of a dead bird. The next, I wanted to see my first pheasant kill and take him home and call him George and have him for a meal.
I pulled into a driveway to backtrack and found nothing. Another driveway, another 3 point turnaround and finally, I spotted a trail of feathers. "I think I found where I hit him!" I said strangely excited. Jim remained silent, probably more surprised than I was. "I have to go," I said to Jim, "I'm pulling over." I hung up the phone and threw it carelessly on the passenger seat and turned on my hazards.
"Ooh, tail feathers!" I picked up two long and stripey looking tail feathers that looked just like the ones we display in a little vase at home from Jim's first Iowa pheasant (that he shot with a gun). Then, I spotted him. About 10 feet to my left, deep in the ditch. "Good thing I wore the right shoes for this." I said to myself. I noticed we had some paper towels in the car for when Jim checks the oil or something and stuffed a few in my pocket in case I got any crazy ideas, which I did.
I neared the bottom of the ditch and found my pheasant, looking quite peaceful and asleep. "That's not as gross as I thought it would be." I thought and, fearing it might really be just knocked out and not dead, I nudged it with my paper toweled hand and found that it was dead. Very dead. I called Jim again. "Should I bring him home? You'd be proud of me! It's a big, fat one!"
"I don't know if you can transport it without a license..." He trailed off and I interrupted. "Good! I don't know either, so we can plead ignorance. Thanks, Honey! Love you!" And I hung up.
I laid the pheasant in the trunk on some old, raggety towel, and I was relieved. He was still dead.
"Rose! You won't believe this. I got a pheasant!"
"You shot it? When did YOU go hunting?" Rose replied.
"Well, I killed it...going about 60." was my response. "Come and see!"
Rose followed me out to the car and bravely met my friend the pheasant. "Wow," she said, "You're brave. I would never touch anything dead."
I proceeded to tell her about Jim's being unsure about transporting it without a license. She assured me that people hit things and take them home a lot, but it's a good idea to check with the County Sheriff and it's really easy to get a tag...well, at least for a deer in her experience.
She said her brother hit a deer with the church van once and wanted to go back for it. He called the County Sheriff to come tag it, but by the time they got there, it was gone. Probably already eaten. He said, and I quote, "Only in Iowa would someone else beat you to your own roadkill."
I felt like such a typical Iowan then...taking my own roadkill home for supper. Weird. But, at the same time, I felt brave and excited for trying something new and quite unusual.
We googled the number for the County Sheriff and called. I must admit, I was kind of afraid they'd take my pheasant away from me. But, what could I lose by trying to do the right thing?
So, I talked to Officer Jeff (whose last name will remain unknown to protect his job).
"Hi, I'm Sarah, and I'm in (name of town will remain unknown because I don't want stalkers). I just hit a pheasant...and it's really pretty and fat. I want to take it home, but I'm an ignorant girl and don't know the procedure. Do I need some sort of tag for it?" Officer Jeff laughed a kind and accepting laugh (thankfully).
"We've never had that question before. It's a first." he said. "Let me ask the Sargeant."
Rose and I waited in anticipation glorying in the fact that I was the FIRST to call in for a Pheasant Tag.
"Oddly enough," he began, "we do tag pheasants." He continued by asking me several questions and said he would be right over to tag my pheasant.
I hung up the phone and "Woooowee! I have a real, official, legal pheasant now!" I jumped up and down and danced around the kitchen, overjoyed. No really, OVERjoyed. "We can have pheasant stew, or pheasant pie (which is kind of like Shepherd's Pie), or pheasant on a stick, or pheasant salad!" Rose laughed along with my silly antics and soon thereafter, Officer Jeff arrived.
"Ooh, I bet the neighbors are wondering! I love when the neighbors wonder and you're not really in trouble!"
We greeted our officer friend and chatted casually with him as he filled out the paperwork. Rose made an interesting observation about him. He was wearing these huge, huge, hard-to-miss sunglasses. It was cloudy and rainy and overcast ALL day. I think it's an officer thing. Maybe it made him look/feel tough and all officer-esque.
Anyway, she also noticed he didn't have a ring on his left ring finger which made my comment about having him over for a pheasant meal to prove I was going to consume the pheasant and not have him taken to a taxidermist, very, very, awkward. So, I said, "My HUSBAND can grill it up for us..." and in my head I said over and over "I'm a dork, I'm a dork, I'm a dork." Why is it police officers make you say stupid things?
In my nervousness I began to tell the story of how I hit the pheasant, etc. "And I was going about si..." Rose was looking at me with big eyes and I realized I was just about to tell a County Sheriff officer I was going 60 mph in a 55mph zone. Usually, I'm very secure with going 5 miles over, since I'm convinced our speedometer is off by 5 mph and I know that most officers give or take 5 mph when determining whether to pull you over or not. But, this time, I felt weird and didn't want to risk losing my pheasant. So, I trailed off in utter humility saying again in my head, "I'm a dork, I'm a dork, I'm a dork."
Little did I realize that Mr. Officer was acting all awkward and nervous, too. Once he said, "Uh, I don't know what I'm doing..." Then, he accidently walked away with my license. Yes, nearly got into his car before saying "Oh, you might need this!" Uh, yeah.
Well, event after exciting event seemed to get more...well, exciting. I never knew hitting a pheasant could provide such entertainment and maybe even a couple of tasty meals, and I'm not even sure I like pheasant. By the way, I named him Jeff.