First of all, Happy New Year! Wow, where has the year gone? It seems to me as I get older and am starting to slow a bit, the years speed up and go by faster and faster. That really applies to the bird hunting season. It seems that September 1st was just last week and now there is only the month of January left for most of us. This is the tail end of late season pheasant hunting, which is our topic for this month. Apropos, don’t you think?
Hunting the late season means there are few to no other hunters. Last week two friends and I went out for the day and saw no other hunters. We hunted both public and private properties and had them to our dogs and to ourselves. There were plenty of flushes, birds in the bag and the dog work was wonderful to watch.
Hunting right after a snowfall offers some beautiful scenery as well as excellent hunting. The birds will bunch up and they are likely to hold a little better especially for a pointing dog. Be sure to block possible escape routes as the birds have been pressured and will flush at the first opportunity. Also, it is imperative to be silent when approaching and hunting a selected area. Park well away from the property which you plan to hunt, approaching silently on foot. Have your game plan worked out well before your approach.
This is a great time to hunt shelter belts, ditches and draws, as well as fence lines adjacent to crop fields. Crop circle corners with heavy cover located well away from roads will offer a great opportunity to bag some wary roosters.
Solo hunts for me are truly special. They offer solitude for just Shawnee, Duchess and me. This is when we concentrate on ditches, draws and fence lines. When hunting ditches and draws, I will stay above and let the dog work the bottom and sides. When coming to an escape route, I will WHOA the dog and move quietly ahead to block the route. I then command the dog to continue hunting toward me. With a little luck, we will have trapped the bird(s) between us. Yes, this tactic takes a great deal of training, but is well worth the time and effort when the result is a rooster in the bag.
Remember, the birds have been pressured and they are looking for places not frequented by hunters. Fence lines, with good cover, offer the solo hunter a great opportunity for success. The birds will run the line, so it is imperative for you and your dog not to push too fast. This will cause the birds to flush prematurely and most likely out of gun range. Look for breaks in the cover, either an access road or thin or bare ground. This will cause the birds to panic and flush. Fence line corners are very likely spots to hold a rooster or two. Be ready for a flush when approaching them.
I hope this bit of information has added to your reference library. I wish you the best of success in the remaining season. May you enjoy your dog(s) and what they are bred and born to do; hunt willingly and loyally for you! See you again next month.
C J, Shawnee & Duchess