Pheasant Hunting - Turkey Hunting - Quail Hunting - Rooster Hunting - Bird Hunting at The Dunn Deal Hunting Lodge
A wide variety of techniques can be used when hunting pheasants. This is probably one of the reason pheasant hunting appeals to so many people. A lone hunter can usually hunt field edges, fencerows and small weed patches. Many enjoy the solitude and easy pace of this type of hunting. Larger blocks of cover such as standing cornfields, cattail marshes, shelterbelts and large waterways may be difficult for one hunter to cover. Several hunters working together not only find more birds, but sharing the outdoor experience with good friends can be a very important part of the hunt. Larger hunting parties have found that they can bag more birds if they post "blockers" at the far end of the field, particularly if the birds seem prone to running or flushing wild. For many hunters, it just isn't a pheasant hunt unless you have a good bird dog along. A well-trained dog is a tremendous help in locating and retrieving crafty ring-necks. Selecting a good bird dog is again a matter of personal preference. English setters, Brittany spaniels, German shorthair/wirehair pointers and Labrador retrievers seem to be some of the most popular breeds among pheasant hunters. To learn more about huning dogs please visit our hunting dogs section According to a DNR wildlife research biologist, pheasants follow a schedule as routine as your daily commute to and from work. Understanding the pheasant's daily movements can increase your odds of flushing a rooster.
"Pheasants start their day before sunrise at roost sites, usually in areas of short- to medium-height grass or weeds, where they spend the night." That's the word from Dick Kimmel, research biologist at the DNR Farmland Wildlife Research and Populations Station at Madelia. Kimmel says that at first light, pheasants head for roadsides or similar areas where they can find gravel or grit.
Pheasants usually begin feeding around 8 a.m. When shooting hours begin an hour later, the birds are still feeding, often in grain fields while cautiously making their way toward safe cover. "Look for the edges of picked cornfields," says Kimmel, who regularly hunts southwestern Minnesota with his English setter, Banjo.
By mid-morning, pheasants have left the fields for the densest, thickest cover they can find, such as a standing corn, federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields, brush patches, wetlands, or native grasses. Kimmel says the birds will "hunker down here for the day until late afternoon." It's next to impossible for small hunting groups of two to three hunters to work large fields of standing corn. Pheasants often run to avoid predators, a response that frustrates dogs and hunters working corn, soybean, and alfalfa fields. Groups of two or three hunters usually have better success working grass fields, field edges, or fencerows. Other likely spots during midday are ditch banks and deep into marshes. Remember: The nastier the weather, the deeper into cover the pheasant will go.
But eventually, pheasants have to eat again. During the late afternoon, the birds move from their loafing spots back to the feeding areas. As in the morning, birds now are easier to spot from a distance and are more accessible to hunters. "That's why the first and last shooting hours are consistently the best times to hunt pheasants," Kimmel adds.
Once the bird has been bagged, it is essential to take good care of the meat, particularly if the weather is warm. Perhaps the best way is to dress and cool the meat immediately after the hunt. Almost any recipe calling for chicken will also work on pheasants.
During some years, Iowa hunters harvest as much as 80 percent of all the available roosters. In biological terms this is not excessive. Due to their polygamous breeding habits, only a small percentage of the males are actually needed for reproduction the following spring. Iowa's comparatively long; cock-only season is really quite conservative because the hen segment of the population is always protected from legal hunting losses. Shortening or closing a cocks-only pheasant season during population lows does not result in increased pheasant production in the future, because hens are protected and the lack of breeding males has never been a limiting factor for Iowa pheasants.