Heed the Call
“Dada, Dada I called the pheasant!” came the voice from the yard.
I can’t call anything. To a passing flock of mallards, I’m as persuasive as a hitchhiker with a chainsaw. The most effective thing I can do with an elk bugle is leave it in the truck. I have my strengths, but imitating animal sounds is not among them. Of course that doesn’t shut me up. Listening to my son saw away outside, I had reason to believe he’d inherited both my lack of talent and my lack of restraint.
“Cause see you just blow in this end and the pheasant knows it’s time to come.” I heard him remind himself.
I’d sent him down to the creek with an old wooden pheasant call. He’d seen me packing duck calls while loading up for an afternoon outing and wanted them. I’d seen where that was headed and wanted a quiet house and slobber-free duck calls. It was win-win compromise.
After fifteen minutes or so of unmitigated, single-reed shrieking though, I realized maybe not everyone was coming out on top, and that the neighbors would probably appreciate a little parental temperance. I headed for the yard, thinking I might convince him to dial it back a little. That’s when my estimation of his prowess was called into question. As the door swung out and my boot thudded onto the porch, a big rooster pheasant erupted from the shrubbery, not twenty yards from Everett.
I froze. Everett stopped his calling, tracked the ring-neck through its arc into a tall cottonwood, then turned to me and grinned. He didn’t seem the least bit surprised or even overly excited. Mostly he looked self-satisfied.
“Cause see!” he said pointing into the tree.
“Uh huh,” I said, a little thrown.
It took me a moment or two to piece together what had just happened.
I know now that he hadn’t coaxed it to him. In fact I’m not convinced it’s possible to attract pheasants with a call. We spot that ditch-parrot almost every day, often in that exact place. (I say we but usually it’s Everett, pointing out the window and announcing in a sing-song voice “I see a pheasant!”). Its proximity to my son and his shrieking was clearly just a happy coincidence.
But Everett knows that he did call it. Were I inclined to try, which I’m not, I would never be able to convince him otherwise.
“Go back inside Dada. You scare the birds.”
Maybe he’s onto something. Maybe the secret to calling lies in faith and self-deception. In anycase I thought, backing into the house, if I leave him be, he might just have it figured out by pheasant season.