Pheasant Hunting


September 17, 2010, 03:15 AM
I'm new to hunting, and I've decided to try pheasant hunting this year. Should I be worried that I only have a SxS to use? I ask, because I thought a double would be a great bird gun, but while I was watching a Pheasants Forever show on one of the outdoor channels everyone was carrying semi-auto's. The other thing that struck me about this show was that when you saw a rooster fly up it sounded like a CWIS going off as the guy shooting emptied his gun as fast as he could. Are pheasants really that hard to hit? I figured two shots and quick aim would work.

On a side note; does anybody have any advice? There will be 3 of us going out. We don't have any dogs, this year at least. There is one new puppy, but he won't be ready until next year. Any suggestions to hunting without dogs? Must have gear?

Thanks for the help. Hopefully if this goes well I may start branching out into other game, as funds allow.

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September 17, 2010, 04:05 AM
Double will do just fine, I carry an O/U when pheasant hunting....think of it as hunting like an English Gentleman. Only disadvantage is when 10-30 birds fly up you'll be reloading when the pumps and semi-autos are still shooting. Number 4-to-6 shot works well. They're a big target, if you do well at trap & skeet....shouldn't have any problem.

For equipment little is needed.....but a good game vest-or-jacket that can hold ammo and birds is a must. You don't want your hands full of birds when the next batch takes flight.

September 17, 2010, 07:45 AM
hunting without a dog will make it tougher, but i spent my first couple of years as a pheasant hunter without a dog. i had to hunt longer than the guys that had dogs, but i still got birds.

agree on the vest suggestion - that is essential gear.

pheasants aren't that hard to hit or kill. i use 6-shot low brass in a 12 gauge remington 870. i think the best pheasant gun would be a 26" side-by-side 20 gauge. i haven't got one yet because i'm just not that much into shotguns, and the 870 while not elegant is a tried and true bird killer.

when there are only 3 of you hunting, keep your hunting area small and your line tight. the birds tend to stay on the ground and run between the hunters. if you are close enough together that the birds can't effectively run between you, they will tend to run ahead of you. at the end of the field they'll have no place left to run and will take flight. make sure your line is 'v' shaped instead of a straight line. the person in the middle should hang back a few yards from the 2 walking in front. also, do not walk perfectly straight lines - zig zag back and forth in your line, and periodically and randomly stop for a few seconds to a few minutes. makes the birds nervous because they don't know your intention, and they'll take flight while you're stopped.

good luck!

September 17, 2010, 11:31 AM
Thanks for the suggestions and tips. I have a vest coming in the mail, unfortunately none of the local stores have anything in stock yet.
I'll make sure to use that method when we are out this year. Hopefully next year we will have a dog big enough to go along and scare up some birds.

I can't wait for opening day now.

September 17, 2010, 03:07 PM
I am headed West at the end of next month to hunt birds. I normally take 2 guns, a Browning A5 and an older Remington O/U. I normally carry #4 and #6 in 12ga. I wear a vest that I've had for 25+ years.

The last time I went there were 4 of us and we stayed pretty much in pairs around very large fields of corn. I started with the O/U for the first day. Dakotasin is right - they are not that hard to hit or kill. I found that I had to stay on my toes though, because they will fall out of the sky and then hit the ground running at times. The second day I switched to the Browning auto but not because of follow up shots. It was because of the large number of rabbits I saw the first day. After that, I killed my limit daily. Where we hunted was a large private farm where the farmer kept a large John Deere combine running pretty much dark-to-dark. It chased everything out of the corn right toward me generally. Literally, large deer, coyotes, everything but a convertible cadillac full of circus clown midgets. This year we are going to take dogs. I cannot wait.

September 17, 2010, 03:15 PM
Enjoy the hunt. SxS is fine. I hunt pheasant with an O/U, but have a guy we hunt with who occasionally brings out a blackpowder SxS - he can still kill more birds than I can.

Suggestion for a vest is excellent. Make sure its big enough to hold 3 pheasants (I assume thats the limit where you are). They are big birds.

I use #5 shot. I like to use extra hot loads, to better reach out and touch the birds, but as others said, its not too tough to kill them with a good shot. You can use regular velocity loads just fine. But use #4-6 shot.

You didn't say where you were hunting them. Are they wild birds? On a preserve? Or are they farm raised birds that are stocked and released by the state like you see in PA. All will react differently - and be found in different areas. But generally, they are pretty stoic birds and will hold up and not release until your right on them andd even then hold off on releasing. Where ever you are hunting, hunt slow and hunt tight - if you go too fast you'll just walk over the birds.

I cant wait for pheasants either (I head to SD every December)

September 17, 2010, 03:26 PM
Iowa for me.

September 17, 2010, 03:36 PM
I have used a 12 pump, 20 SxS, 12 O/U, 28 O/U, and a 12 SxS to hunt pheasants at various times - just remember to be safe - know WHO is shooting and which direction each shooter has for their own. A dog really helps, but it just means you'll be walking more. Depending on the type of terrain you're hunting, (crop rows, fence lines, thick wind-breaks, open prairie, etc.), your methods will vary.

Safety FIRST and foremost.

September 18, 2010, 02:45 AM
Last season on opening day I hunted in Russel Kansas at La Sada, it was a pen raised hunt and they provided the dogs, Brittany Spaniels I believe and I used my friends Browning Citori field O/U and it was a blast using that than my 'ol 870. We used 4 shot nitro pheasant and a well placed shot all it took was one in most cases. The pen raised birds definitely didn't fly far compared to the Public land birds which would fly 200-300 yards. A few roosters flying up in your face does sound like a blackhawk taking off! They are tough critters.

September 19, 2010, 03:21 PM
I have used over-under and it is more than appropriate. By the time you get through the second shot (which is essentially semi-auto from the first shot) the bird will be too far off to least in my experience.

September 19, 2010, 03:29 PM
I started hunting them with an old single shot H&R 12 ga. and didn't have any problems.

Man I miss eating pheasants

Steve 48
September 19, 2010, 04:05 PM
In my weekly hunt, I shot 10 doves and seen about 45 pheasants within 3 miles of town. I was back in 1 hour. Please hunt somewhere else but kansas.

September 19, 2010, 05:50 PM
Again thanks for all the suggestions and help. I live in western NY, and I'll be hunting on public lands for state released birds. Around here we have a two bird limit per day, so if I make that just one day I will be happy.
Eventually I would love to travel out to Kansas or to the Dakotas, but that's going to have to wait for now.
I've got a vest coming, a box of #6 and a box of #5 pheasant loads, and my shotgun. I should be set it seems.

If I get anything I'll make sure to post a pic or two.

September 24, 2010, 11:36 PM
I grew up hunting in Western Nebraska and you can hunt without dogs, but it will be more of a challenge. I shoot a Fox double 12 gauge and it works just fine. The one thing that most newbies are most shocked at is the speed that a pheasant gets going straight up before he levels out. Wait on him to crest and then shoot or you will shoot under him most of the time. They also make a lot of noise when they launch and can be quite startling when hunting in the snow as they will lay under the snow even when you step almost on them and then launch directly behind you. You really have to watch your muzzle control in this situation. BTW, my gun has a very tight full choke on one barrel and a tight modified on the other. Most of my shots were at 25 to 40 yds. and I used high brass No. 5s. If you shoot fast, you will burn a lot of ammo, get a sore shoulder and just scare the hell out of the birds. Wait on him, he will level out.

September 25, 2010, 12:16 AM
My suggestion....
Get a dog, I don't care if it is ol' shep. He will probably help more than hurt. (unless you have a really keen sense of smell)

September 25, 2010, 12:55 PM
Dakotasin nailed it if you dnt have dogs. I do all my bird hunting with a side by side. Russian made Remington Coach shotgun.With 20 inch barrels. Has screw in Chokes first barrel mod Second is full.Its very fast. gun on bird.
I also have a nylon band for the stock. the band will hold 5 shells. Its where i keep my 000 buck. Cause every now & then i will have a coyote move out.
KEEP THE WIND IN YOUR FACE!! & stop every 25 yards or so. & watch behind you when you do stop.

October 20, 2010, 02:46 AM
In the end it didn't seem to matter what gun I used. The birds were all farm raised, and it came down to luck. I found a good field where the state was stocking them, and my friend and I walked all over the thing for almost 5 hours. In the end it all came down to the luck of stepping out of the brush in the right place. Less than a foot away was a sleeping pheasant. I had to almost kick the bird to get a reaction, but I got it. I got one of the 8 or so birds bagged that day. Thanks for all the advice everyone, it turned out to be a great help as everyone else had at least 1 dog with them. So here's the pic of the bird I got.

October 20, 2010, 10:44 AM
Beautiful! Good for you!

October 20, 2010, 11:00 AM
I started out with a single shot. Pheasants died. I now use a semi-auto, but would love to use a double.

Hunting shows can be ridiculous.

October 20, 2010, 06:59 PM
I hunt wild birds. The reason for semi autos is that you can knock down a bird or wound one and still lose it without a good dog. Pen raised birds are different. I used to use an SxS and later an overunder but now I use a light semi auto most of the time. Sometimes a third shot is needed to nail them good. Young birds kill fairly easy but tough od roosters and late season birds are hard to kill. And a semi auto is easier on the shoulder. But it is heavier to carry and a tad slower to point. Even a young dog that is trained not to be gun shy is better than no dog. Hunting with a SxS without a dog is a little harder but a lot better than not at all. I have a great dog but he is getting old and right now has a sore leg so I am stuck posting instead of hunting. I
don't feel right about hunting without him. Have fun.

October 20, 2010, 09:38 PM
I got introduced to P-birds when I moved to Pa many years ago. I also discovered the same thing as you ch4, you literally have to kick those farm raised birds in the rear to get them to fly. When you do finally get to take that trip to the Dakotas, you will see a HUGE difference in the hunt and flights of the birds.

October 21, 2010, 01:58 PM
i shoot a side by side and over and under. i use a 32gram 6 shot standard game cartridge. i shoot rabbits, pigeons, pheasants, partridge and i used to shoot duck with them. best with a dog, helps with retrieving and with being your buddy

November 1, 2010, 02:25 PM
If it's your first time out, you might try a guided pheasant hunt like Leland Outfitters ( in Panhandle, TX. Skye's a lot of fun and I've never had a more successful hunt in my life.

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