- Well-Trained Bird Dogs
- Timeless Moments with Old Friends
- Tasty, Beautiful, Ringed-neck Pheasants
- One Surprising Modern-Day Youngster
By Joe Forma
The well-trained pointing Lab whirled into the red brush and a gorgeous Ringed-neck Pheasant clawed his way airborne. The first of some 50 such flushes for my son, Andy Forma, of Penfield, New York, and his four companions on their 4th annual hunt with F&B Upland Birds in Hamlin, New York.
The companion hunters were Safari Club stalwarts Judge Bill Boller, George Cipressi and his grandson Dom, and also Dr. Pat Baranello, owner of the Calibre Shop ammo source, and Ron Bullard of Collins, New York. Yours truly was the group photographer.
The hosts at F&B Upland are Fred Paye and Bill Surridge. These great guys run a superb hunt in what they maintain as traditional Western New York bird cover. As we step afield, we are transported back to the 1970’s when Ringed-necks were so prevalent locally. The 200 plus acres of hunting land features standing corn, soybean fields, hedgerows and acres of natural red brush.
Fred and Bill provide wonderful, well-trained bird dogs, featuring Pointing Labs and Shorthair Pointers. They are without a doubt the very best bird dogs I have ever hunted over. They even respond to Fred’s command “get a drink” by immediately jumping into one of the large water tubs sprinkled around the area. Neat to see.
The morning hunt was for 25 randomly released roosters. This is no walk ’em up and shoot in a 4-inch clover field. Every bird was a challenge to locate and bag especially in the thick red brush and well grown hedgerows. The dogs did a great job. Many of the birds ran like the wily birds of old. The group all had great shots and needed about 3-4 flushes and misses to settle down and then they rarely missed.
A real highlight of this hunt was George’s grandson, Dom, a 12 year-old super hunter. Andy was really glad to have a youngster along to promote the future of his sport. Dom couldn’t have been a better sportsman even at his young age. He always held his cut-down Remington 20 gauge pump at a proper port arms position, as instructed. He showed no impaired nerves or excitement, but hunted like he had done it a dozen times, not his first time. He was an excellent shot. He downed at least six hard-flying pheasants with single shots. I didn’t see him miss.
After a great morning with about 22 birds brought to bag, we broke for a luxury lunch of roast venison, deep fried Canandaigua Lake yellow perch and Lake Erie walleye. Fred and Bill fed us well in their spacious and heated tent.
The afternoon hunt was for an additional 25 Ringnecks. The dogs continued their excellent work and showed no signs of fatigue. They are well trained and well exercised, so they never quit, though some of us older sports slowed down just a bit. The shooting was right on the mark though and the birds flushed hard with disconcerting cackling.
A tribute to all was that not a single bird was lost as a cripple. Great shooting and great retrieving by the dogs. By around 3:00 p.m., there five happy hunters and one old photographer, me, who decided one last push thru the soybean field would do it. It produced our last kill, a long-tailed, beautifully feathered cock bird.
The boys finished with 45 to be delicious pheasants and the feeling of a day well spent. Andy booked again for a hunt next November.