Just got off deadline from the magazine, so I thought I’d fill people in on my pheasant extravaganza from the weekend. I went with a buddy to this place that does guided hunts. We are terrible amateurs and have pulled the trigger on a shotgun maybe twice between us. It was a good time, but not without its awkward moments. I thought I had told the place we needed to rent shotguns. So we get there, they’re expecting us, they seem to have everything ready for us and we drive out with our guide to the field. We got out of our vehicles, bundled up against the cold, and just as we’re going to start into the field, the guide says, “Ok, lemme see your shotguns.” “Uh,” I say, “shotguns?” “Yeah, lemme see your guns.” “Uh, we need guns?” Looooong silence. But we eventually got guns and bagged a bunch of birds. A couple of those died, I hate to admit, through tragic-comic circumstances (well, not that comic if you’re a bird), rather than our shooting. Our dog, a Brittany named Casey, was wonderful, a bundle of bird-seeking joy. And it turned out our guide was a member of the Heritage Foundation, so what could be more perfect? A friend cooked the birds for us–yes, using bacon–and it was a generally successful beginner’s foray into red-state culture.