This is a hot-smoking method, essentially a really slow, smoky barbecue. Instead of barbecue sauce, which you could of course us if you wanted to, I use maple syrup instead. This creates a nice sweet glaze for the smoke to adhere to as the bird cooks. You must use plucked pheasants for this recipe. It will not work with skinned birds, as they will get too dry. If you are not a hunter but want to make this, you can use a high-quality domestic chicken (regular supermarket ones are too soft and flabby) or you can buy a whole pheasant online or in some supermarkets.
OPTIONAL: Weigh the pheasant and the water you intend to brine it in; you'll have to guess, so err on more water. Now dissolve 2 percent of that total weight -- pheasant + water -- in kosher salt in the water, then brine. This method allows you to brine the bird for days without it getting too salty.
Take the pheasants out of the brine. Set on a cooling rack under a ceiling fan or in a breezy place and let them dry for an hour or so. You can also put the birds in a container uncovered in the fridge overnight. This drying process is an important step. You want the bird damp and tacky on the outside, not soaking wet.
Note: This recipe also works with chukars, grouse and partridges, but not turkeys. Use this smoked turkey recipe instead.