On Sunday I went pheasant hunting in Speonk on a private, 250-acre farm. This was my first time hunting for anything in my entire life and I found it to be a really enjoyable experience.
In terms of how you feel the entire time, it’s very similar to going fishing. You feel extremely connected to nature and your senses are highly elevated. The air smells sweeter, and you can here all of the sounds around you at an elevated level. I can remember vividly hearing the crunch of the land beneath my feet, the sound of my breath inhaling and exhaling, and the clarity of my mind and vision.
The setting on Long Island for hunting is absolutely beautiful. Sunday morning was crisp and cold, and there is something very spiritual about walking through the woods on a hunt, I’m not sure how I can describe it any other way. For me, this was the best part of the experience, just the walk through the woods armed with a gun and tuning into nature. Once I fired a shot, all of the fun sort of stops, and you I found myself looking forward to going back to the actual search for birds.
I was with four people, one of which was my friend Steve Curry, a financial adviser at Gilford Securities in Westhampton Beach, and who invited me on the trip. Steve and his dog Lola, are seasoned hunters, and the connection between he and his dog was remarkable to me. He seemed to constantly know exactly what his dog was thinking and when she was on the scent of a bird.
Essentially what happens is when a dog finds a bird, she drives it up into the air, and the hunters in the field aim and fire. In my mind I thought this was going to be an extremely easy thing to do, but in practice, this is EXTREMELY difficult. You only get a few seconds to target this bird and fire. And when a bird does fly up, your mind goes into a complete predatory state. Your vision gets clear, and you become extremely aware of where the other hunters are, where the dog is, which direction into the wind the bird is flying, where you are going to place your shot, and where you anticipate the bird is going to fly. Out of six opportunities to hit a bird, I only shot one, and I think of myself as a good shot when shooting skeet. When the birds fly up, it adds a whole other dimension of challenge.
I didn’t feel good about killing a bird, much like a don’t feel good about killing a fish when I fish. So I always make a point to the fish that I catch when I go fishing, and I decided that hunting would be no different. So after the hunt, we planned on eating the birds that we shot for dinner. That’s just my personal rule for myself.
I’m sure there are going to be a lot of people reading this that don’t think hunting is a good thing. I completely disagree. I’d really like to hear in the comments below what your personal take is on the sport. I think it is an absolutely wonderful thing to do, especially during the winter time when you really can’t do any of the outdoor activities that are so available in the summer time. And there is no skiing out here on Long Island, so for me, it’s a wonderful way to get outdoors and really get connected with nature.
Below is a video I filmed of the experience on my iPhone. I don’t have any footage of the shooting, but it gives you an idea of what it is like.