They don their breeks and sporting coats and jaunty caps, as the hired help clean and polish their Purdeys, their Grullas, their Krieghoffs.
They pay upwards of $6000 a week to re-enact a pantomine of hunting; what it has sadly become a continent away in a place that lost its wild places centuries ago, lost the bulk of its public opportunities to hunt and fish, and was left with this ritualized costume party, for the select who could afford it.
And now, in a western state that is over 60% public land, where fantastic wild bird hunting opportunities abound for anyone willing to do a little homework and put one foot in front of the other, they are paying top dollar to do this, behind a fence, for pen-raised birds instead.
The birds pile up in the hundreds, considered little more than clays with wings. But no matter – many more are released. And some, I’d like to think the smart ones, high-tail it for the property boundary, where a free and wild life await on the other side. Those that make it quickly become wily survivors, constant predation being the price they pay for freedom.
I walk a field a few hundred yards away. I hear laughter coming from the expansive porch of the lodge, carried on the breeze. My jeans mostly muddy, a trusty 16ga. pump in my hand. The shorthair locks. Spins and repositions. Locks again, amber eyes ablaze. There’s a rooster in there, on this free, CRP land, adjoining exclusivity. I can’t help but laugh my ass off. Sometimes trickle down economics actually work.