Three Pheasants

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Classic Problem

A man has $3$ pheasants that he wants to give to $2$ fathers and $2$ sons, giving each of them $1$ pheasant.

How can this be done?


This is an instance of the riddle Two Fathers and Two Sons who are Three People.

To make this question tighter in structure, it should be stated that each of the $2$ fathers is actually the father of one of the $2$ sons.

In order to give $3$ pheasants to $4$ people so that each gets $1$ pheasant, it must be the case that $2$ of the $4$ people are actually the same person.

The only way to do that is to arrange that one of the fathers is also one of the sons.


One of the fathers gets one pheasant.
His son gets one pheasant.
This son is also the other father.
The son of this other father is the other son.
He gets the third pheasant.

So the $3$ people involved are grandfather, father and son.

Historical Note

David Wells tells us in his Curious and Interesting Puzzles of $1992$ that the Three Pheasants riddle appears in one of Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia's works: either Quesiti, et Inventioni Diverse of $1546$ or General Trattato di Numeri et Misure of $1556$.

Wells, however, does not tell us which one of those two it appears in.