Ripples is a short film about finding community in the uplands, and the profound difference one person can make, just by putting positivity into the world.
The following is an excerpt from “Ripples,” written by Erik Petersen. This will be featured in the upcoming 2023 Fall Pheasants Forever Journal of Conservation.
“As we get older and more experienced with wingshooting, we tend to forget just how much the stars must align for everything to come together and end up with a bird in hand. We take that muscle memory for granted – mounting shotgun to shoulder, following the target, leading it just so... But being a parent to budding hunters reminds us of just how difficult that process can be when you’re starting out.
This was the case with Kasa. He was 12, and had missed a fair number of birds in the field his first year. The gun was awkward and he had a hard time mounting it in time for the flush. But now we were into his second season afield, and I had found him a smaller gun that fit him better.
And yet, he still struggled to put it all together in time to get a shot off. He was beginning to get frustrated. As a parent, I was walking that fine line between letting the thing be hard, and not letting it be so hard that your child loses interest.
Thankfully, he got a morale boost when our new friend Douglas Spale, and his father Fred, joined us in Montana for several days of hunting. You may remember Kasa from a story I wrote in the Fall 2020 issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal.
He’s adopted from Ethiopia, and an earlier article I wrote titled “To Make a Pheasant Hunter” talked about the need for more diversity in the uplands. How, I had asked back then, could I expect Kasa to find a home in the uplands, if he didn’t have role models that looked like him?
My answer came in the form of Douglas. Like Kasa, he too had been a Black kid adopted into a white hunting family in a small town full of people that didn’t look like him. After reading my essay, Douglas reached out and generously offered “I can be that mentor for Kasa.”
When Douglas Spale, a Black man adopted into a mixed-race family from Nebraska, hears a request for more diverse role models in the upland hunting world, he answers the call.