What you are about to read could be true. In a hypothetical, theoretical sense, it may possibly have happened just as I describe it.

But if the events had actually transpired this way, I’d never admit it in a public forum because my carefully crafted public image of respectability, uprightness and honesty would be severely damaged. It would be even more embarrassing than the time I had to walk with a herd of Welsh Corgis and their owners in the Christmas parade. Remember, think hypothetical.

During the month of October, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife conducts a planted pheasant hunt at the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area north of Corvallis. I’m not a big fan of put-and-take hunts but I regularly take my dogs for hikes in the OSU McDonald Forest near there, so why not let the dogs have a chance at some birds while they can?

I purchased a tag allowing me to take two birds and prepared to head out the next day.

It didn’t take long to get ready. I still had shells in my hunting vest from chukar hunts last year, so all I had to do was fill my water bottles, grab my shotgun, hunting license, parking permit for the wildlife area and head out.

Author’s note: right about now, bird hunters who are familiar with the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area probably have a pretty good idea of my problem, hypothetical as it is. Yes, I know … how could I be so stupid?

The dogs were excited, as usual. Although the wildlife area, with its thick brush and blackberries, is not an ideal place for big running dogs like mine, it allowed Bailey, my 16-month-old youngster to partner with eight-year-old Silky, learn to execute a quartering pattern across the fields and even more important, respond immediately to my commands and whistles. Silky’s anticipation and responsiveness were passed along quickly to the younger dog and despite the lack of pheasants I was very pleased with the dog work.

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It occurred to me, as I entered the second hour of my hunt, just how great an opportunity E.E. Wilson provides to us. With its extensive pattern of roads left over from its former life as a World War II U.S. Army training base, the wildlife area offers the best hunting and fishing opportunities for physically limited people anywhere in the state.

There are some restrictions at E.E. Wilson. You have to stop hunting by 5 p.m. so the staff can plant birds for the next day’s hunt. And of course, you have to use steel or non-toxic shot, which is a common restriction for waterfowl, and on state and federal wildlife areas. I’m a believer in using non-toxic shot when I can but have returned to lead shot on chukar hunts because my own steel shot ricocheted back at me in the rimrocky country where chukars live.


I’d never replaced my lead shot shells from my vest with non-toxic shot. I was walking around with a vest full of lead shot. Uh oh.

If I was stopped by the cops, the second thing they would check (after my license and tag) would be my shells and I’m pretty sure the citation would include a heavy fine. Which would be far less impactful than the knowledge that I would be a criminal, a breaker of wildlife laws, no better than Dick Cheney and Ted Nugent.

I unloaded my shotgun and headed for the vehicle, doing my best to stay out of sight, all the while hoping my dogs would not find a pheasant. Because if they went on point, my moral fiber would be stretched to the breaking point.

Hypothetically, of course.

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Pat Wray writes about the outdoors and can be reached at patwray@comcast.net.