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View Full Version : Wanted: Tips, Tricks and Advice on Pheasant Hunting


PLINK
11-25-2008, 2:55 AM
Background:

My friend and I both started pheasant hunting this year. We both did the hunter safety course and got the hunting license w/ the upland game stamp.

My friend has a German Short Hair that is about 1 y/o and does a pretty good job pointing. She is able to find us the birds at times but to me she seems to lose interest some of the time. She has not had any formal training that I know of.

I am using a 12g M1S90 with a modified choke and he has a 12g Mossberg 26in Big 5 special w/ fixed choke. We have been using the Remington Pheasant load #4's.

So far we have been doing some day club hunting up by Zamora. We are hoping to find some cheaper Pheasant hunting around Sac Valley area because the dog, my friend and I would like to get out as much as possible and learn much as we can.

Any tips, tricks, load / choke recommendations, websites, hunting club recommendations, etc, are greatly appreciated.

TIA

Gunaria
11-25-2008, 7:55 AM
It sounds like you are hunting pen raised birds. Here are some things that I have learned.

1. Invest in some knee high slick boots. They will save you from getting your shoes, socks & pants all wet. China-mart has them for around $18 IIRC.

2. You need a good dog with a high prey drive. Some dogs have it & some don't. Invest in a good shock collar for the dog. I recommend Dogtra.

3. You must see some daylight between the dog and a flying rooster before you shoot or you run the risk of shooting the dog.

4. You have to enjoy walking, to enjoy pheasant hunting.

5. Almost any shotgun in 12, 16 or 20 gauge is good enough for pheasant. Last PH I used a Benelli M1S90 in 20 ga. w/ a 26 in. barrel & IC choke with 3in #6 1.25 oz. shot.

6. For 12ga a good load to use is the Federal Pheasant Forever in #7.5 1.25oz. that goes 1500 FPS. Most Pheasant clubs usually only allow #7.5 shot.

7. Have fun and be safe. There's a pheasant club in Manteca that charges $25 per day for 2 pheasants. IIRC you can hunt just about everyday but they plant the fields every Wed., Sat. & Sun.

Salty
11-25-2008, 6:01 PM
Kinda in the same boat myself and was wondering how viable hunting without a dog is?

I got a Game Bird Heritage priority stamp when I passed Hunters ED and am hoping to use it in Merced next month if I get drawn. I've been practicing with clays a lot, but other than that it's all new to me.

Full Clip
11-25-2008, 6:41 PM
I'll be doing a little this weekend up near Williams in some rice fields my BiL has a lease on for the season. Last year was my first experience with pheasant. His dog is very active and absolutely gets the birds in the air. Without her, they'd just be running ahead of us, hopping from field to field, and we'd never get a shot. I went home empty, but he'd bagged a few. We were just using #4 steel shot as that's what we had for ducks as well.

pieeater
11-25-2008, 6:45 PM
Kinda in the same boat myself and was wondering how viable hunting without a dog is?

I got a Game Bird Heritage priority stamp when I passed Hunters ED and am hoping to use it in Merced next month if I get drawn. I've been practicing with clays a lot, but other than that it's all new to me.

Stop suddenly a lot, the birds will think you spotted them and flush. Also beat the crap out of all the brush and walk thru the nastiest stuff.

pieeater
11-25-2008, 6:52 PM
One tip I have is I always used different loads. 1st shot a lowbase 6 followed by a stronger one followed by a 3" max #4. This is for wildbirds only, on pen raised I use only low base.

popndrop
11-25-2008, 8:23 PM
Use a good dog - one that's "birdy" and in shape , they need to cover a lot more ground than you do.

Make sure you carry water for the dogs as a dog with a dry mouth is pretty much useless as he won't be using his nose to breathe. carry a large amount on warm days - keep in mind that most dogs will spill at least as much as they drink. I carry a decent sized bottle with me and a large bottle in the truck to refill the small bottle. I also carry a small collapsible water dish to serve them the water - some dogs will drink from the bottle, others won't (this will also conserve water being spilled).

Practice shooting clays from all different directions, not just going away in front of you. I love to shoot 5 stand as a practice a few days before a hunt, and find that it will increase my kill ratio pretty seriously. I also like to practice with smaller gauges then hunt with larger, this will also help with your kill ratio (aim small, miss small).

Good boots.

Water for you.

Snacks for you. Recommend jerky, trail mix, granola bars, - don't recommend oatmeal, sardines, chocolate bars, oysters, eggs...they're just nasty after a few hours in a backpack, (and I hate having to do my bid'ness in the wilder'ness...)(which reminds me- TP)

For really warm or really cold days, your dog will be burning more calories and therefore lowering their blood sugar levels, - carry a squeeze jar of honey or simple syrup/corn syrup - it could save your dogs life. If they get too low, they will go into shock, and that's the end of the story. I can't get mine to eat when he's hunting, just won't do it - so I have to be able to shoot/squeeze it into his throat in order to get it into his system. This will also give them extra energy to hunt for you.

Dress in layers.

Don't carry too much ammo (very common mistake for newbies) you're hunting in california, you won't be shooting that many birds :) If you have to, carry 3 times your limit in shells...that should pretty much do it.

Don't shoot your dog - and don't even point your gun near my dog. They won't hunt with holes in them.

Make sure your dog is under control - electricity is your friend in the field. The dog will be much more attentive to you and your commands when he knows that there are repercussions for disobedience.

Give yourself, and more importantly your dog, a rest every 30-45 min of hunting - this will give them a chance to catch their breath, and then they'll be able to use their nose better for you. My dog didn't like the fact that i'd stop hunting at first, but got used to it - it will allow you to hunt for several hours with a good dog, rather than with a burnt out, tongue hanging out, panting violently, useless, birdless dog.

Have the correct chokes - very common mistake for Newbies and veterans alike - pattern your gun, and know your distances - if the bird is out of range, don't waste shells and push the birds - if they're out of your range, let them land and hunt them there...use your eyes and brain rather than your itchy trigger finger.

Give the bird a second or two to fly when they flush, don't blast them when they're 15 feet in front of you (see above item regarding patterns) at that distance you'll end up with bloody pulp rather than anything edible (which is kind'a the point of hunting).

Have fun - and eat what you shoot - even if its shot to hell - you can serve it to your dogs, and they'll love you for it.

Most importantly, have fun and then take your buddies out with you and get them hooked on it too.

Thefeeder
11-25-2008, 8:39 PM
It sounds like you are hunting pen raised birds. Here are some things that I have learned.

1. Invest in some knee high slick boots. They will save you from getting your shoes, socks & pants all wet. China-mart has them for around $18 IIRC.

2. You need a good dog with a high prey drive. Some dogs have it & some don't. Invest in a good shock collar for the dog. I recommend Dogtra.

3. You must see some daylight between the dog and a flying rooster before you shoot or you run the risk of shooting the dog.

4. You have to enjoy walking, to enjoy pheasant hunting.

5. Almost any shotgun in 12, 16 or 20 gauge is good enough for pheasant. Last PH I used a Benelli M1S90 in 20 ga. w/ a 26 in. barrel & IC choke with 3in #6 1.25 oz. shot.

6. For 12ga a good load to use is the Federal Pheasant Forever in #7.5 1.25oz. that goes 1500 FPS. Most Pheasant clubs usually only allow #7.5 shot.

7. Have fun and be safe. There's a pheasant club in Manteca that charges $25 per day for 2 pheasants. IIRC you can hunt just about everyday but they plant the fields every Wed., Sat. & Sun.

You have a fine 1 year old...just keep hunting her. At that age they get bored easy when there are no birds to find. You need to keep track of where your finding the birds and hunt the same area, cover and places ......your dog will thank you....At this point the dog needs you to be a better hunter so it can learn. In two more years ....follow your dog.

PLINK
11-25-2008, 10:57 PM
Thank you all for the info. Keep it coming.

edwardm
11-26-2008, 12:19 PM
Background:

My friend has a German Short Hair that is about 1 y/o and does a pretty good job pointing. She is able to find us the birds at times but to me she seems to lose interest some of the time. She has not had any formal training that I know of.



Don't be so certain that she is losing interest. At 1 year, she's still got another season or two of education before she becomes a seasoned pointer (same with labs, really). When she does get distracted, use verbal commands and encouragement (nothing harsh, always use a friendly tone) to get her interested. However, what you perceive as distraction may be how she 'hunts'. I've seen both pointers and labs do this where they get all hot to trot, especially right out of the gate, and then once they get the piss-n-vinegar out, get mellow and resort to actual hunting, i.e. lots of scenting and jogging crosswise or into the wind, which almost looks like distraction or confusion. Whatever you do, work with the dog - it's a partnership. She'll learn her end of the bargain with positive reinforcement. While some others suggest shock collars (and rightly so), make sure it's the LAST thing you resort to. If she tries to run down a rabbit something and takes off, yes, give her a tingle to break her of that habit quickly. But if its her simply not listening to a verbal or hand signal first ask yourself "Is she screwing off, or is she hunting, or is something else going on?" Finally, as the ultimate last resort, if she's just being an obstinate ***** and defying you, don't be afraid to use your hand on her, within limits of course - beating a dog is never acceptable, but physical reprimand is OK.

Try to push her (verbally, not physically) into "birdy" looking spots - irrigation ditches and canals (the banks), thick tule cover near water, big clumps of brush around otherwise clear areas where spooked birds may hold, especially after opening day). Once she comes on a bird or two (even if it's just a hen) she'll see the idea, and once you put down a rooster or two and she gets to point, track and retrieve that bird, she'll better understand her 'reward'. Once she does come back in with the bird, ample praise, maybe a doggie treat or two and physical contact (pet her, scratch behind her ears, whatever she likes in particular) will reinforce the idea. Instincts and her nose will do the rest.

Keep in mind that at her age, it might not be unusual for her to lock up on non-birds. I've been with pointers that would lock up on a nest of field mice and would simply not budge. Never punish or yell at the dog for going on point, just walk away from her, show no interest. She'll soon discern "good scent" from "uninteresting scent" and put that into practice as well. She may also lock up on fresh scent from a bird that was just there not long ago. Go in for the flush and show her "no bird, no bird".

Finally - patience. It's going to take lots of it and years with any given dog, and maybe decades for/with the sport itself. Worth it in the end.