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Who says you must have a four-legged furry companion wherever you go after upland birds? Even though a canine’s senses are a match to none, you can have just as much success if you know how to hunt pheasant without a dog.
If you’re hunting without a dog, consider the layout of the land. Focus on a small patch and walk along areas with linear cover like fence rows. If you’re part of a group, designate and strategically place shooters along the field edges. The rest walk zig-zagging towards the shooters, which drives the bird to flush in that direction.
Let’s take a look at several proven strategies if you were wondering how to hunt pheasants without a dog. However, before we delve deeper into the topic, here is some basic information about pheasants (for the sake of newbies).
Can You Hunt Pheasants Without a Dog?
Yes, you can. I must agree; bird dogs are great. Some people even believe that hunting birds without a pointer or a flusher is impossible.
Canine noses can be trained to detect even the faintest birdy scent and quickly track it down to its source. But it doesn’t mean that hunting expeditions without dogs are unsuccessful.
You just have to double the effort if you don’t have a canine companion. Here are four ways on how you can successfully hunt pheasant without a dog.
Learn Where to Look
You don’t always need a spotter to flush out pheasants in a cornfield. It is pretty easy if you know how to spot these birds. This is why most novice hunters are advised to time their hunts after snow or rainfall. Their prints can be easily identified on the mud and snow. Some of the best places to look include:
- Fence rows
- Weed fields
- Vast fields of crops like corn.
- Along cattail sloughs.
- In marshland found near watering spots.
Hunt in the Morning and Late Afternoon
The best time to hunt pheasant is a few hours after dawn and again just before dusk. This is when the birds leave their roost searching for food, making them easier to spot in areas with light cover.
Check out our full guide on When is the Best Time to Hunt Pheasant?
When hunting pheasant without a dog, invest in the power of numbers. The odds are increased with every person added to the group. Which means that the lone hunter works hardest.
Prefer to hunt in a pair? Then opt for a brushy ditch bank or fenceline. Position yourselves on opposite ends and begin stealthily walking towards each other. This is, however, best left to seasoned hunters as an eager shooter may lead to an unfortunate accident.
The ideal group number would be around six. Vast fields of grass or grain can be covered like this, yielding productive results. Place stoppers on two adjacent corners. The rest form a straight line, opposite the shooters, with some distance between each person – a half dozen yards is enough. Without breaking formation, the team presses forward in a zig-zag pattern. The birds are driven towards the eagerly awaiting shooters as they move through the brush.
Tales from people who hunt pheasant without dogs tell us a lot about how to go about it. Most people do the ‘big group push,’ which is effective for me too (there’s usually about five or six of us each trip).
But when it’s only two or three of you, cover small patches at a time by designating a shooter while the rest of you flush the birds out. Also, pay close attention to linear covers like drainage ditches and roadsides.
If you’re in a private club or game farm hunting, the pheasants are usually released a few hours before hunting begins. The captive-bred birds are easier to find compared to those in the wild.
Another critical role played by dogs is retrieving shot birds. Since you lack this benefit, only shoot when you’re sure you can recover the rooster with respect to your shooting position.
Safety Tips for Hunting Pheasants
No matter the case, NEVER FIRE until you can see there are no other hunters in front of the gun. Hold the trigger if you’re not 100% the shot is completely safe.
Also, when hunting in tall corn, NEVER take a low-angle shot. When you see one flush, yell “rooster!” or “hen!” as soon as the bird takes flight. This signals other hunters to crouch down immediately, making it safer for the “stopper” to shoot.
Wear a blaze orange vest to make yourself more discernable to other hunters. In the U.S, some states like California give you an option to wear orange, but it certainly doesn’t take anything from experience to be extra cautious. Always observe safety rules to avoid accidents.
Also Read: How to Hunt Rabbits without a Dog
While dogs make excellent bid hunting companions, it doesn’t mean that you can’t successfully hunt pheasant without a dog. When you know where to find them, apply the tips mentioned above to improve your success. Ensure you bring along relevant permits and licenses even when hunting as part of a group. It builds your skill if you can master the art of pheasant hunting without a dog.
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