Pheasant Hunting Tips
While the pheasant was introduced to America in 1773, it was not until the early 1800s that the bird began to spread across the United States. Today, they are found in at least 40 states. While many are born in the wild, there are more than 100 pheasant farms in the United States. If you would like to go pheasant hunting, then here are some tips you may want to keep in mind.
1. Dress for Success
If your clothes are burdening you down, then it is hard to be quiet and enjoy a day of hunting. Most states require you to wear at least one bright orange item. Since your head is often the only thing that other hunters can see, wearing a bright orange hat often makes sense. Pheasants often live in extremely rugged ground, so make sure that you wear clothing that will not get torn easily. You will be walking constantly, so make sure to wear sturdy boots with a good insole that allow you to move through hunting grounds while making the least amount of noise possible. Consider dressing in layers allowing you to adjust your clothing throughout the day.
2. Choose the Right Time
While some pheasant hunters go to the field to enjoy a day with their buddies if you are intent on bagging your limit choose the right times to go pheasant hunting. If the weather is nasty, then pheasants tend to be reluctant to leave their nice warm nests, so hunt these areas early in the day if the snow is flying. On normal days, however, birds tend to head to feeding sources just as the sun is peeking over the horizon. Then, they often head to water sources in hopes of getting a drink before heading back to deep cover. In the evening, they will again look for supper and a drink before heading back to bed. Therefore, you should time your hunting to coincide with their natural behavior.
3. Know Your Gun
Before heading to the field, make sure that you know your gun. Even if you have properly cleaned and stored it after your last hunting trip, things can happen. Therefore, spend some time shooting clay pigeons before your trip. This will sharpen your skill level and get you ready for your big hunt. It also helps ensure that your gun is in proper working order.
The 20-gauge shotgun is often the weapon of choice for pheasant hunters, but others bag their limit using 16-gauge or 12-gauge guns. The most important thing is to use a heavy lead shot. While it is possible to shoot a pheasant with a 7 1/2 shot, imagine your disappointment when the bird keeps on flying. Instead, opt for four or six shot to ensure that birds fly when you hit them.
4. Use a Dog
There are many advantages to pheasant hunting with a dog. They can help you flush pheasants out of the grass, and they are extremely useful for finding birds after they have been shot.
Hunters will inevitably argue about which breed of dog is the best for pheasant hunting. Different breeds have different advantages, so consider what you want the dog to accomplish during the hunt. You might want to consider:
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon: This breed is outstanding at rooting pheasants out of heavy cover.
German Shorthaired Pointer: This breed is known for its extreme reliability regardless of how often you hunt or the hunting conditions.
English Cocker Spaniel: This breed is a ball of energy in the field, so make sure you are prepared to keep up.
Golden Retriever: This breed has a drive that just will not quit making it an outstanding choice for bagging a pheasant after it has been shot.
Deutsch Drahthaar: This breed has a heart that refuses to quit, and they are one of the smartest breeds for hunting.
Labrador Retriever: This breed is one of the easiest to train, so if you do not have a lot of time, then make sure to consider this versatile dog.
Brittany Spaniel: This breed often does the unexpected to flush a dog out of the field allowing you to get a good shot, so make sure you are ready at all times.
Regardless of the breed that you choose, look for a dog that comes from top hunting lines. Many of these breeds have been brought to the city, and they have lost their county roots. While a good hunting dog may not win the Westminster Kennel Dog Show, bagging your limit of pheasants will be a great reward for both of you.
5. Know Your Hunting Ground
Before hunting season begins, make sure that you get permission to hunt where pheasants live. Early in the season and during dry periods, pheasants will hang out where there is water. While it is usually easy to spot rivers, streams, ponds and lakes in your hunting area, pheasants often hang out near other sources of water including pump houses, irrigation equipment and irrigation canals. Knowing every source of water on your hunting grounds often leads to better hunting. Try to plan your hunting strategy so that you are not accidentally scaring the birds out of one area while attempting to hunt another.
6. Employ Football Tactics
Great pheasant hunting is like a good football team that depends on teamwork to win games. You need the offense to drive the pheasants out of their hiding spots, but you also need a good defense to make sure that none get away. Position blockers so that pheasants are not tempted to try to make their getaway by flying between them. At least one gun should be able to shoot every bird that tries to fly away. Pheasants will usually run until they run out of cover, so position these people far enough back that the birds are starting to take to the air.
You will also want to have guns on the side of your hunting ground. These hunters should be far enough apart that they do not scare pheasants away when they are walking into position. Nonetheless, these hunters should be ready to fire at a pheasant if they try to fly around the end zone. If you do not have enough people, then position these hunters 30 to 50 yards ahead of the dogs and hunters chasing the pheasants out of cover allowing them to do double duty.
7. Pheasant Hunting Alone
It is not always necessary to have a group to go pheasant hunting, but you will need to hunt smarter. Consider what the pheasant is likely to be doing at the time that you are hunting. In the early morning hours on a pretty day, they are looking for food, so position yourself between their food source and their cover. Since many groups let their desire for food interfere with their hunting, going at lunchtime can often yield rich rewards. Later in the day, they are likely looking for water, so position yourself between their water source and cover in order to have the best opportunity. In the evening, they are headed to bed so make sure that you beat them allowing you to disturb their plan for a great night's rest.
There is another tip that solo hunters can make work for them if you notice a group hunting nearby. Try positioning yourself so that you can shoot the pheasants that get away from the group. Allow them to scare up the birds and get first shot, but you can often bag your limit on birds that got away from the group. In order to have the most luck, study the bird's likely flight path allowing you to get into position well ahead of time.
8. Hunt in Stocked Areas
Many states stock pheasants in hopes of attracting hunters to their area. The great news is that the state wildlife divisions usually publish these numbers well ahead of opening day. Therefore, keep abreast of where stocking is taking place, and secure a hunting lease there. If you are a new hunter, then there are many pheasant farms that offer hunting. These farms often will provide a leader for your group. While you can study all day, relying on the experience of these leaders who often grew up pheasant hunting can be a great way to learn the sport.
Following these tips will allow you to bag your limit. The limit varies by state and sometimes even regions within a state, so make sure to know your limit before you go hunting. Enjoy your time pheasant hunting, but remember to always stay safe.