The palpable fervor that pheasants and pheasant hunting inspired at the peak of the ringneck’s popularity in Minnesota is illustrated here by photos recording a 1950s-to-early-1960s-era event that saw entire communities mobilized to harvest roosters to help feed veterans.
One photo, taken Oct. 1, 1950, depicts two fellows, R.E. Conn, left, and W.J. Wallace, co-chairmen of an American Legion “shell committee,” delivering nine cases of ammunition donated by an American Legion district for distribution to 125 communities. The shells would be used to waylay pheasants to feed veterans at five veterans hospitals and homes on Oct. 26, after the season opened that year on Oct. 21.The goal was to kill 2,500 pheasants and feed them to 3,800 disabled veterans, with ducks donated by volunteering waterfowlers mixed in for good measure.
The same American Legion-sponsored event 10 years later incentivized pheasant hunters in the Montevideo, Minn., area by offering a free steak dinner to any uplander who donated a ringneck to the cause. “Shoot a pheasant, feed a vet!” exclaimed a sign overhanging scores of contributed birds in the photograph dated 1960.