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Midland Musings with Jenny Nguyen – Super Dogs, Yummy Birds and Photography

Last week, I experienced pheasant hunting for the first time. Well, it wasn’t really “hunting.” It was a training session for a couple dogs at Pheasants Bonanza. Jeff Kurrus thought it would be a great opportunity to get GoPro footage of dogs on the prowl. Even though it wasn’t a real hunt, it was a first for me. Prior to this experience, I have only seen a total of two pheasants in my entire life! And never have I witnessed the dance between dog, hunter and bird. I loved to watch those dogs work.  You have to excuse me if I get excited over things that may seem old or everyday.

Before I go on, I have to thank Trent and Aaron from Pheasants Bonanza in Tekamah for being so accommodating. We also have thank their dogs. Poor things. We subjected them to every ridiculous thing we could think of. But they were such good sports about it. Just goes to show, nothing beats the unconditional love of a dog.

"You guys have gone too far this time! TOO FAR."

We employed a number of straps and techniques to get the camera to stay and to keep the dogs from shaking it off. Jeff did get some interesting footage. We looked at the videos after each session, and it was pretty much pheasant hunting from a dog’s perspective. A tad bouncy and sporadic, it was like the doggy version of the Blair Witch Project. Maybe Jeff will post a video sometime soon.

Disclaimer: No dogs were harmed in the making of these videos. However, I can’t say the same for the birds…

While Jeff worried about the GoPro, I learned an important lesson while trying to photograph a pheasant hunt: IT’S FREAKING HARD. I was huffing and puffing through the grass, trying to keep up with the dogs and the hunters. I thought I was going to die. It was also extremely difficult  to anticipate where the dog, bird and hunter will be for the perfect shot. I also didn’t want to get caught in the line of fire. The sad thing was, this was a controlled hunt. Even though I’m a photographer for NEBRASKAland Magazine, I still have a lot to learn. But that’s what I love so much about action and wildlife photography: You never ever know what the situation will throw at you. It was a humbling experience.

Here’s Aaron and his cute little dog. Aaron used to be a chef in New York City. He came to Nebraska for the hunting and has never left since. Nowadays, you can find Aaron cooking up tasty meals for guests at the Pheasants Bonanza Lodge or out in the field training dogs.

For some reason, every time I work with Jeff on a project, I get fed. We were fortunate to taste one of Aaron’s dishes: pheasant wrapped in bacon, seasoned with rosemary and served with a sauce made of cream, mushroom and wine. It was Aaron’s improved version of slapping wild game in cream of mushroom soup, which I tend to dislike. (I know, I’m a food snob.) Aaron’s dish was a winner! One of the best meals I’ve had in Nebraska, actually.

And… somehow, I walked away that day with six pheasants and one chukar in my bag! Hee-hee! Jeff couldn’t believe I did that. But hey, my FoodForHunters.com blog is in desperate need of pheasant recipes. I’ll take ’em where I can get ’em!

Aaron also showed me how to clean a pheasant. It was sort of gross, digging out the guts, because I wanted to keep the birds whole. I also kept the hearts. I haven’t figured out what I want to do with them yet, but I do like chicken hearts– can’t be that much of a difference.

About Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

NEBRASKAland Associate Editor Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley was born in Nha Trang, Vietnam, and moved to the United States with her parents in 1992. She graduated from Bolsa Grande High School in Garden Grove, California, in 2008 and completed her bachelor’s degree at UCLA in 2012. Wheatley was editor-in-chief for her high school newspaper and continued to write in college, freelancing for various publications, the Tiger Woods Foundation and writing for her blog FoodForHunters.com. After graduating college, she moved to Nebraska in early 2013 to join the Commission as Regional Editor at NEBRASKAland Magazine. She then became associate editor in 2015. Wheatley enjoys hiking, camping, horseback riding, hunting, fishing and wild game cooking.

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