Guest author and photographer: Marilyn Armstrong – Not killing the pheasant

We had a rifle. It was my first husband’s rifle. It too just one shot at a time because it was really a competition rifle and wasn’t intended to do anything but hit targets. Paper targets.

It was a very pretty gun, though and my son still has it. He keeps it clean and oiled, but I don’t think it has been loaded in more than 20 year. Maybe more.

We used to take that rifle with us up to Maine where we went camping. We didn’t build the site. It belonged to a friend of my husband’s parents. It was a big, open one room cabin with six beds stacked up on one wall with ladders to get to the upper ones.


One of my last photos developed in the darkroom, the wood-stove in the camp in Maine

There was an old Home Atlantic wood stove that was the absolutely easiest and most effective wood stove I’ve ever used. There was a gas range and gas lamps. No electricity when we were there, though it did arrive later and along with it, came pollution as people emptied their washing machines into the lake. Killing many of the large mouthed bass and driving away the loons.

But this was before the electricity, when everyone lived quietly without loud music and no washing machines. We did have a weather radio that ran on batteries.

One day, it was time to “go hunting.” This meant taking the rifle and a handful of bullets. Nailing a paper plate to a fir-tree, then killing the paper plate. And there we were, killing that plate deader than dead.



Along came the pheasant. He walked slowly up to the tree where we had nailed the target plate. He stood there. And waited.

A long argument ensued. Should we shoot the pheasant? We could eat it, right? Except no one had any idea how to clean a pheasant. Or even pluck one. And what if we shot it, but it didn’t die? Would someone be willing to shoot it again?

No one was willing to shoot it in the first place, much less twice.

caged birds

My version of caged birds

Another long consultation. After which, we all got together and virtually pushed the stupid pheasant into the woods. He didn’t want to go. For some reason — you’d have to ask the pheasant what he was thinking — he wanted to hang out with us. We were, apparently, more interesting than his usual crowd.

When finally we convinced him to go away and please, don’t come back, we packed up the gun, gave up on targets, picked a few more blueberries and had fresh corn and blueberry pancakes for dinner.

No pheasant that night — or any other night. Just not our thing.

And this is why arming teachers to shoot the guys with assault weapons is such an incredibly stupid idea. I bet none of the teachers could shoot the pheasant either.

marilyn birthday 68About the Author

Marilyn Armstrong is a writer, blogger and photographer. She started writing as soon as she could form letters and has never heard a single good reason why she should stop. Marilyn and her husband Garry, as well their son, daughter-in-law, granddaugher and various intrepid canines, live in a setting of rare natural beauty and gigantic rocks in rural Massachusetts.

Marilyn blogs at Serendipity where she offers “memories via anecdotes, observations, occasional fiction, and photographs.”

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The Twelve Foot Teepee

Fighting the of demons of an abusive childhood and having given up on traditional paths to personal salvation, Maggie decides to find her own path … by building a teepee in her back yard. It’s a peculiar route, but her goal is simple: offload the cargo of her past and move into a future, sans luggage. Armed with a draw knife and a sense of humor, she peels poles and paints canvas until winter passes and she is free.


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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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20 Responses to Guest author and photographer: Marilyn Armstrong – Not killing the pheasant

  1. Pingback: Guest author: Marilyn Armstrong – The Militant Negro™

  2. Hubby has an air rifle and I’ve used it to shoot bottle tops. A plastic lid stands no chance against me, but anything alive? No. I’d chicken out unless it was a choice of shoot or starve.
    Hubby used to do pest control and the rabbits he brought back were cooked. I made a pie for a widowed gentleman we’d gotten to know on our dog walks. He was over the moon that I remembered………. not once, but twice.
    We had pheasant once, and it was OK I suppose. Certainly not worth the price you’d pay in a restaurant. Maggie will lift a pheasant despite no training. Once it’s airborne, she looks at us as if to say ‘I did that!’

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Beautifully written. I agree, two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Once, that same first husband who cried every time he saw an animal hurt by a car, had to shoot a bat. There was no other way to deal with it and it was acting too weird to let it stay in the cabin with us. I swear he was haunted by it for the rest of his life.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: NOT KILLING THE PHEASANT – Marilyn Armstrong – Serendipity – Seeking Intelligent Life On Earth

  6. Mary Smith says:

    Wonderful post.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Jennie says:

    I’m a teacher. My instinct would be to protect the children, not to shoot. Interestingly, like you I grew up with woods and hunting and guns. I watched my father oil and care for the guns on Sundays. I married a wonderful man from Pennsylvania whose father did the same. My point? Regardless of my background, I would not want a gun. Teachers are all about the children.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Jennie says:

    Gorgeous photos. I left comments on Marilyn’s site. Thank you, Sue.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a most interesting point. I wonder could I bring myself to kill someone and defend a class of children. Definitely I could kill to defend my own children. We had a home invasion about 8 years ago and I have subsequently made a plan in case something like that happens again. I would not be passive the second time around.

    Liked by 1 person

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