Albino pheasants are trophies

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By Sandy Bond

Al Schorg poses with an albino pheasant harvested this season.

Al Schorg poses with an albino pheasant harvested this season.

The peace, the quiet and the solitude, and seeing his Labradors, Maggie and Pepper, work the pheasant are what Al Schorg of Selby loves about pheasant hunting.
Pheasant season ended last week and Al and Maggie have added another rare albino pheasant to the tally, for a total of six. He bagged one that had a somewhat dusky shade of white with tan, but doesn’t call that a true albino.
“It’s the same thing as some people are obsessed with pursuing the biggest buck,” he said.
The first time or two, he concedes, it was somewhat of a fluke, but now he actively searches for them. “ I believe that it’s probably somewhat of a genetic mutation,” he said, “because I bagged them all in the same area.”
He politely declines to say where that may be.
Over the years, his interest in hunting whitetail deer with a rifle or bow declined and his interest in pheasant hunting only increased.
Growing up on the family farm near Clark owned by his mom and dad, Ronald and Evelyn, Al and his younger brother Lonnie literally followed in their dad’s footsteps, as he taught them the fundamentals of hunting and hunting safety.
Every fall when he was growing up in the 1960s, hunters from Arkansas would come to hunt land owned by his grandparents, Gladys and Tony Temple, who lived about a half mile from them. He believes they were instrumental in getting him hooked.
“Those were during the old ‘Soil Bank’ days, much like CRP, and the program provided excellent habitat. Pheasants were very plentiful,” he said.
“They would invite me to come along with them and walk the cornfields,” he said, “and help gather pheasant that they shot.”
Back then you had to be 12 years of age to hunt, he said, and he received his first shotgun, a 410 single barrel, from his folks when he turned 12. After that he was invited to hunt with them.
“Back then it was less about the quantity of birds that you got and more about the camaraderie during the hunt,” he said.
It was his friends, Bill Rosin with his Labradors and Terry Hettich with his English springer spaniels, who first got him started hunting with dogs, he said.
“The rooster pheasant is the smartest bird there is because it can hide so well, you can walk right past them and not know they’re even there,” he said. “A good dog will help you to out-fox the wily rooster. Pheasant don’t like to fly and will try to outrun the dogs as opposed to flying. They’re just not built for flying like a grouse can.”
“Every hunter knows,” he said, “a good dog will give you the utmost advantage under the most adverse conditions. A dog will allow you to find the bird so that it doesn’t lie there dying and suffering.”
He credits Bill as the inspiration for acquiring his first dog, Coco, a black and white English springer spaniel.
Bill gave him lots of books on training and told him that genetics make the great gun dog. He reminded him that a good gun dog is as smart as his owner.
“It’s got to be genetics,” he said, “because when I first began hunting with dogs, all I taught them to do was to sit.”
He’s been lucky he said, landowners have been very welcoming over the years. He continues to hunt right here in Walworth County.

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