The pheasant is a rewarding bird to hunt – gorgeous plumage, an impressive flush, and a tasty treat on the table – but it is also a sneaky bird. A whole library of techniques has been published on the subject of hunting this beautiful and speedy wild game bird. We have a few tips to get you started that will improve your chances of success on your first pheasant hunt.

“Stock” the Deck

While pheasants are native throughout the continental United States, farming and development has affected their habitats and caused their overall populations to shrink. You can find public listings of dates and stocking numbers in your hunting regulations manual or you can call the local division of wildlife. There are also private game preserves, like Winter Haven, where you can hunt stocked birds. This is a fantastic option, as preserve owners are often aware of predator populations and weather hazards that may thin the population of game birds.

Use the Land to your Advantage

You will want to know where birds can be found based on the lay of the land and for your own safety. You can use topographical and online maps to get an idea of what the land looks like and where the birds might be. You’ll want to hunt “at the edge”, following edge cover along the sides of creeks and fields. Birds that have been startled are likely to collect there, and birds frightened by hunters who prefer to travel through fields will drive the birds into this deeper brush.

Rather than staying in common areas where dogs and other hunters are working, find a spot in deep cover and let the birds come to you after they have been driven out of the open. Hunting later in the day is beneficial as well – birds that have spent the day running from other hunters will begin to reemerge as those hunters go in for the afternoon. Pheasants also like to come out in the last hour of daylight, just before the roost, making them easy targets.

Listen and Look

Stay quiet and try to be inconspicuous. Birds can react to the sound of a truck door closing, to the sound of you breaking brush, and to heavy breathing and talking. Keep an eye out for tracks and an ear out for birds moving in the brush. Furthermore, listen to other hunters or to your hunt leader. These more experienced hunters can tell you useful tales of the birds they’ve bagged that will be helpful during your own hunt.

Staying quiet will help you to surprise birds as they move out of cover in the afternoon. Your quiet approach will allow you to frighten them into flight and have the best chance at a good shot in the air. Watch out for pheasants that prefer to run. You’ll want to hunt these birds as if they were rabbits – some may even run right past your feet!

Dress for Success

Wear the right clothes for the weather, choose layers that can be removed as the day heats up, and choose a light weapon. You’ll want to be ready when that perfect shot comes along, and sweating under a lot of heavy clothes may slow you down or make you less likely to react. The pheasant is a light bird, so you won’t need your heavy goose gun. Think about staying light, fresh, and reactive so that you can be ready when you’ve flushed your bird.

Rely on a Friend

Bring your trusted bird dog along. A well trained bird dog can help flush out a pheasant so that you can cover both field and brush at the same time. If you don’t already have a fully trained dog, you can buy one (at a very dear price), or better yet, you can choose a preserve like Winter Haven, where dogs may be provided as part of your hunt.

Pheasant can be a very enjoyable hunt, especially when it’s a social event. Gather up your friends and assign each hunt party member a different role throughout the day – some can drive birds into cover, others can shoot from the deep brush. Rotating roles is fun and gives each hunt member a chance to practice new skills. Call Winter Haven today and set up your next hunt with us!

Phone: 434.589.6977 | Email: winterhngmfmprsv@aol.com

 

Winterhaven Game Farm & Preserve • 500 Venable Rd, Palmyra • Virginia 22963