The outlook is very good in most areas. Go to Pheasants Forever.org to get the outlook in each state in pheasant country. These states also offer Walk-in-Access areas of private land open to public hunting. Check with each state’s wildlife division to obtain maps of these areas. Now for some tactics to help you become more successful on your hunts..
Where to Hunt:
1. Hunt corners and edges that adjoin crop fields. The corners by pivot point irrigated fields offer excellent pheasant hunting.
2. Hunt around abandoned and overgrown homesteads and farm machinery. These offer great roosting and loafing areas for pheasants.
3. Hunt ditches and draws that have good cover and are located near crops. These offer great opportunities for solo hunting. Let your dog run in the ditch while you walk on the edge on top. Be ready at bends and reductions in the cover as this is where the birds will normally flush.
4. Cover areas adjoining marsh lands will hold birds. Late season the birds will be in the cattails. This is when a good flushing dog earns his/her keep!
5. Of course, the tried and true crop field hunt (corn, milo, wheat, etc.)
6. Fence lines and shelter belts with good cover, especially late season. Birds will congregate at the corners for easy escape.
7. Cover areas around railroad tracks will hold pheasants. These are railroad easements and require permission from the railroad to hunt. The local stationmaster is the one to contact.
How to Hunt:
1. WALK SLOW! Most hunters walk the fields too fast. Walking too fast pushes your dog past birds because he/she has been trained to run ahead of you. If birds are flushing behind you, you are walking too fast.
2. Zig – Zag back and forth as you walk, stopping on occasion. Chances are birds will flush when you stop, thinking you have spotted them. So be ready!
3. Walk into or at least with a crossing wind. This will give optimum scenting opportunities for your dog.
4. If possible, have blockers at the end of the field or cover area. This will keep the birds from flushing too far ahead of you.
5. Don’t talk with your buddies when you are hunting a field. Pheasants have excellent hearing and will run out of the territory way ahead of you. Use hand signals to direct movement.
6. When you decide on a certain field to hunt, drive past it a ways to discus with your hunting partners how you want to approach the hunt. DON’T SLAM THE DOORS of your vehicle when getting put to hunt. Pheasants will hear you.
7. When getting out of your vehicle, get yourself all set then get your dog out last. You do not want the dog running around while you are getting prepared to hunt.
8. When returning to your vehicle, put your dog up first before you put your items back in the vehicle. The dog’s safety is paramount.
When to Hunt:1. Early, at daybreak, pheasants will be in roosting cover. Around mid-morning they will head toward food and water and will remain until later in the day when they will return to roosting cover. Some will loaf in cover adjoining crop fields during the day.
2. Late in the day, the birds will move towards road sides for gravel. They need gravel to help in digesting the day’s food intake, as they do not have teeth.
3. At sunset, they will head towards roosting cover to start the cycle all over the next day.
Please use safe hunting practices.There is no game, big or small, worth the injury or worse yet, the death, of a friend or dog.
See you again next month.
CJ & Shawnee