John whooped again.
"Man, that's worth the trip, right there. If I don't get another shot the trip's been worth it."
I was awful glad I hadn't seen the bird. It would have spoiled John's shot if both of us had been shooting at the same bird. That is one of my objections to hunting with a large party, two or three people shooting at the same bird. Clyde and Terry were standing together off to our right and ahead of us and then we saw Clyde stuffing a bird into Terry's game bag.
"Is that the one I was shooting at?" I hollered.
"Yeah, you just weighted him down a little bit," Terry said.
Good, I felt better. I had already crippled and lost one bird in this field and had rocked the bird Terry now had twice. Nothing can ruin a hunt like losing cripples. Before we finished the field, the Lieutenant shot two cocks on a single rise, our first double.
Back into the trucks again and on to another wheat stubble-sunflower field, everyone agreeing that we were seeing more birds in these fields than in the draws. Then we were walking again, rotating the dogs, Pete and Tar with us now and John's dogs in a pickup scrambling back and forth over the seats and howling, not believing that we had left them behind. Old Pete went into his beeline gait and I ran with him and we were 200 yards out in front before two hens flushed. We had to wait for people to catch up and suddenly I noticed that the sun was about to set and this would be our last field and it had seemed like only two hours since lunch and I never did have time to take my waders off.
We dressed out the birds in the basement and everyone got cleaned up enough for the pheasant hunters' dinner at the church. The church dinner must have been the farm wives' warmup for Thanksgiving. There were barbecued ribs, barbecued chicken, fried chicken, turkey, candied ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, salads, pickled beets, pickled onions, pickled carrots and any kind of pie or cake you wanted. There were 150 people jammed into the church. Mostly it was the townspeople and their families. We ate all we wanted for $2 and walked back through town to the garage.
"Damn," the Lieutenant said after all of us garage people had crawled into sleeping bags and were lying there looking at the Coleman lantern and the grille of the Mercury.
"Damn what?" I asked.