pheasant hunting tips

Pheasant hunting is all about the flush and the rush of adrenaline as you hear the call, “Rooster!” The cackle of the birds, the points and flushes of the dogs, the tail feathers rising up off the ground—all are great reasons to grab friends and get them out on the prairie to chase pheasants. Pheasant hunting is a tradition and it is best spent with friends of all ages. Here are some tips from some folks who live and breath pheasants and pheasant conservation every day.

Always follow the dog. Always!

It’s the first rule of bird hunting.  The dog’s nose knows more than your brain.  Doesn’t matter how smart you are, the dog’s nose is better than any hunter’s brain at the mathematics, physics and biology of locating a pheasant on the run, a covey of quail, or a secretive ruffed grouse.  Further, this nugget is good advice any time of the season, but especially important to consider when hunting with a new group of people.  I greatly prefer to hunt in small groups of one, two or three guys behind a couple of good bird dogs, rather than in a death-march line of ten.  The biggest reason for my preference to hunt in a small group is the ability to follow the dogs wherever they lead.  They can put you on birds in places you never would have walked naturally in a marching line of ten. – Bob St. Pierre, Vice President of Marketing at Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever

Don’t start from the parking lot

As a predominately public land hunter, I know I’m never the first person to walk a property in hopes of finding ringnecks—and the birds know I’m not the first person either! If you were to set up a trail camera at the parking area of most public upland hunting areas, you’d see group after group pull up, hop out, and walk nearly the same loop through the property, depending on prevailing winds. This leaves pockets of undisturbed habitat that could be holding the big rooster you’ve been hoping for. Simply put, don’t fall into the same old trap. Park—or at least start your hunt—at a more unconventional spot and play the wind. If you’re lucky enough you might just hit the jackpot that everyone else has missed out on. – Andrew Vavra, Director of Marketing at Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever

Hunt late season

There are so many advantages to hunting the late season that it is almost hard to comprehend! Here are just a few:

  • You avoid the crowds
  • The crops are out and birds are concentrated
  • Landowners are more willing to allow hunters on their property
  • Better weather conditions for dog work

Don’t be afraid to brave a little cold. Dress in layers and embrace the late season! Your dog will thank you. – Brad Heidel, Director of Corporate Relations at Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever

Early birds and golden hour

Depending on hunting regulations in your state, upland birds can be pursued during the early morning and late evening hours—the two best times to fill your game bag in the fall. Early morning and late evening bird hunts put the advantage in the favor of the savvy upland hunter and his/her dog by focusing on roosting cover, especially if you’re hunting pheasants. Public land hunters who can identify “bunch grasses” or late season cattail sloughs next to grain fields where birds will roost for the evening can plan their attack accordingly and make the most of the first and last 60 minutes of legal shooting hours. – Jared Wiklund, Public Relations Manager at Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever

Use the public access atlas

When hunting in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota, use the Public Access Atlas. Each of these states works with private landowners to provide walk-in access and these lands, mixed with public lands, add up to a tremendous amount of land. One hundred percent of my pheasant hunting over the last 5 years has been on these walk-in private and public lands and they have led to some dramatic hunts on some land that I had only dreamed of hunting in the past. You can find these lands on each state’s game and fish website or pick them up in each state. – Kevin Paulson, Founder

Join Pheasants Forever

One of the best investments I make every year is signing up for my Rooster Booster membership from Pheasants Forever. The five magazines that arrive in my mailbox each year provide a wealth of great articles, stories and tips. I also know that I am contributing to this amazing organization dedicated to pheasants. Pheasants Forever has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and 90 cents out of every dollar is spent on the ground making a difference. Each year, I also volunteer for a Youth/Mentor Pheasant hunt run by the Cornhusker chapter of Pheasants Forever. It’s one of my favorite events of the year. Join this organization and help to make a difference.


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