The most popular and available game bird in the country is the ringneck pheasant, an alien introduced into this country, in the Northwest, only at the end of the last century. Also known as the Chinese, China, Mongolian, and Oregon pheasant, this bird has several cousins which are slowly being introduced in a few isolated areas on an experimental basis — the Lady Amherst, English Green, and Golden.

The reason for the ringneck’s popularity are obvious. It’s a good dog bird and it can also be successfully walk-up hunted. It’s a bird large enough (a cock may weigh 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 pounds) for the shotgunner to feel it’s worth the expenditure of a shell, and the meat (all white and very similar to chicken) is approved of by anyone who likes chicken. This similarity to chicken means that any of your favorite chicken recipes can be used for pheasant. However, keep in mind that the wild bird, or even a bird from a game farm, needs a bit of additional fat.

If you want to crisp-fry pheasant according to your favorite recipe and it has to wait a bit before serving, drain the pieces as soon as they are fried, put them into a brown paper bag, and keep in a warm oven. This works with any young, tender bird.

An additional way of telling the age of a pheasant (aside from the breastbone and lower bill test) is by the feathers at the leading edge of the wings. If the last outermost feathers are softer and noticeable shorter than the remainder, it is a young bird that has just finished moulting. A pheasant can have a long life; not long ago a banded bird was live-trapped and the banding date was 17 years before; so it’s wise to judge the age accurately. With that banded bird, which was released to continue living, chances are you wouldn’t be able to get a fork in the gravy.

Keywords: Information, Poultry, French, Wild Game, Pheasant

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