View Full Version : A pheasant shoot....

Dave McC
March 15, 2002, 09:04 PM
Had an interesting day today, and I've some birds to clean in the AM.For those who haven't done this yet, here's how it all came about...

My best friend is 40, in good shape,and an ardent hunter. He invited me to a shoot at one of those ritzy preserve and range places, and we went down there this morning, with a co-worker of my buddy.

More Jags and Volvos in the parking lot than P/Us.

First, we stopped by the 5 stand and shot a round. My score was embarassing, Frankenstein weighs about three lbs less than my 870 TB does these days, and I overswung on everything. I did pull a few doubles towards the end, but it was proof one shouldn't switch guns and shoot in front of strangers.

Next, we met the "Guide" and moved to a milo field. A number of Ringnecks and Chukar had been planted there an a hour before. A dog was used, and both English Setters and Pointers were in front of us, doing a bangup job. Pop would have approved.

I guess we had our first shot opp after a whole two minutes into this. Practically had to kick the bird before it moved, and then it ran like an ostrich. The next ringneck was more amenable, and hit the deck deader than Osama's good name.

And so it went. The dog would cast for a bit, we'd move in and flush, then shoot the bird. The dog would retrieve the bird, the guide would put it in his game pocket, we'd reload and continue on.

It was Reader's Digest shooting. The time between shot opps was about the same as shooting Sporting Clays. Sort of a compressed experience.

Once again I was reminded of how the gaudiness of the male pheasant turns into superb camo in a field like this. Even the green head mirrors the little green plants poking up through the stubble, and the rest of the bird looks like light and shadow in the undergrowth. And while these were pen raised birds, they were still ringnecks, ditch dragons that flew up and turned like cutting horses. Datus Proper, the writer, calls Pheasants, "A bird the color of Autumn". I can see why....

Shots were close, I was using a Skeet choke and could have gone with straight Cylinder.Shot was limited to 7 1/2 or smaller, and the AA Light Target loads we had did fine. The other guys both used Modified tubes, and yes, we did tear some birds up.

Note,on wild Ringnecks I'd go with more choke, larger shot,and more of it.My old pheasant load was 1 1/4 oz of 6s,and I sometimes wished for 1 1/2 oz of 4s. These were pen birds, and not nearly as tough.

" A Ringneck can run like an ostrich and hide under a pencil"- Brister...

The chukars were a disappointment. The guide said that the weather was too warm for them, and they had to be kicked up to fly. It sounded like the old "You should have been here last week" story such folks have ready for the clients at fishing and hunting spots all over the world.

We took every bird that flew. Total body count was 26 Ringnecks, 12 Chukar. I sat out the last trip through the field and just enjoyed watching the dog work. Still one of the finest shows on earth.

What it wasn't was hunting, but it was still fun....

March 15, 2002, 09:37 PM
dave , I did a few hunter trials that were flops(birds wouldn't fly). I've come to the conclusion that if I can't hunt wild birds I'd just give it up.

March 16, 2002, 12:07 AM
Dave, You are right in calling that a pheasant SHOOT. a pheasant HUNT is something else.
Even so, lots of fun. and besides, somebody might as well shoot and eat 'em since a low % survive in the wild after being pen-raised.
My farm where I live is 1/2 mile from a state park with a put-and-take pheasant hunting program. The redtail hawks hammer them out in the open, the coyotes feast on them when roosting. I occaisionally pop them in the yard where they seem to be drawn to the bird feeder ;)

Dave McC
March 16, 2002, 07:14 AM
Thanks, guys...

Huntsman, I've shot holdover pheasants that were as wild as native birds, but not lately. And here in Md, it's very tough times for Ringnecks and Quail.

And long ago, I helped Pop shoot the birds at field trials a few times.This was more like that then hunting.

The best part of this was watching the dogs. I haven't my father's gift for training, nor his resources.So, this was a rare treat.

Kingcreek, the guide said few last 24 hours. In Queen Anne's County, Md, it's illegal to shoot a fox, and we noted a large hawk keeping an eye on the proceedings. My guess is we helped some local predators through a tough time of year.

And now, time to leave feathers all over the backyard(G)....

March 16, 2002, 10:58 AM
I've done the put & take thing,Ohio still does it's pheasant stockings on public land. The state would release the birds the evening before Thanksgiving, on the big day it would be like a war zone so I'd go on fri. All the dudes were either back at work or back in the burbs, I'd have the place to myself and what birds were left were definitely wary, the dog would get good work and I'd enjoy a pleasant hunt.
I've just never did the preserve thing , I thought about it but then I guess I'm too cheap :) around here they get $25. a bird.

Dave McC
March 16, 2002, 09:14 PM
This was definitely posh, and I was being treated. Definitely out of my range otherwise.

For good or not, this is how many shotgunners will go after birds in the future. Land management practices are not conducive to high bird pops in the East. More and more, the available hunting is getting expensive, and/or less available.

Alex Johnson
March 16, 2002, 10:31 PM
I wouldn't feel too bad about the experience. I live in North Dakota and when you get down into the western part of the state the Pheaseant hunting is excellent, just like the duck hunting is in my area. Last year I drove a couple hundred miles to hunt on some private property that some friends of mine own and we probably saw close to a thousand birds over a three day period. Of course a lot of them were hens which you can't shoot, but we still got a lot of good close shooting at the roosters. Even so, what I enjoyed best about it was the beauty of the countryside paired with good company, good dogs, and a fine double. Those are experiences that can be shared even at the game farms.

Dave McC
March 17, 2002, 10:16 AM
I wasn't knocking it,Alex. Just reporting it as it happened.

Few folks had the chances I did for hunting anymore. Pop had good dogs, and permission to hunt thousands of acres of farms could be had by asking.

This isn't the same. But, it's not bad, and a great way to watch the dogs work. That's still the best show in town, the shot's a postscript. And, if I was starting a youngster off, a great albeit expensive way to get some birds behind him and build confidence.

And, this wa a day spent with a good friend I do not get to see as much as we'd both like. We talked about doing a dove shoot early next Sept.

greg c
March 18, 2002, 01:22 AM
Thanks for sharing the experience with us.

Dave McC
March 18, 2002, 06:47 AM
You're very welcome....

March 18, 2002, 11:34 AM
The CRP is calling me. I have family and friends in SW Iowa, I hate to brag but it's some of the best pheasant hunting on the planet and it's only getting better. The bird population should be even higher this season. Mild winter, and in the last 2 - 3 years sarcoptic mange has devastated the coyote and fox populations, there's hardly any left in that area. Natural selection at work, there were way to many before. I use to be that you could step outside and dusk and hear 5 or 6 different coyote family groups howling as the sun went down. Now when you go out all you hear is silence. Bad for the varmint hunters & trappers, good for bird hunters. -- Kernel

March 18, 2002, 12:37 PM
"I use to be that you could step outside and dusk and hear 5 or 6 different coyote family groups howling as the sun went down. Now when you go out all you hear is silence."

What no cockbirds crowing ? years ago I hunted with a buddy who had a small farm with a heathy population of wild pheasants an when I was there we always heard cockbirds at dusk & dawn kinda gets you going , like the grouse drumming in my woodlot or the woodcock doing their spring dance

Dave McC
March 18, 2002, 08:28 PM
Yeah, Kernel, and when I was young we could sit on the porch at dusk in the summer and hear a few cock birds and at least one covey of quail. Not now.

Still hear geese every day, tho.

March 18, 2002, 10:59 PM
Yup, it must be that BP corn.... it's pert near kilt everything. Just kidding. By "silence" I meant just the Song Dogs. The rest of the critters, including the roosters, are still makin' noise.

Now with the coyotes down I wonder if the rabbits will make a comeback. 20 years ago, after a light snow, I could shoot 10 or 15 in a morning. Now I'm lucky to see that many in a season, but back in those days we had hardly any coyotes.

Okay, now to tie this back to shotguns. When rabbit hunting over a Beagle Remington's 20ga 870 Youth is an excellent choice. Full choke and light loads of #6 is ideal for rabbit inside 30 yds. The 21" barrel on the Youth is handy for going thru the thick stuff, and the 1.5" shorter stock makes for a perfect fit when I'm wearing winter clothing. -- Kernel

Dave McC
March 19, 2002, 05:31 AM
6s and cottontails are a match made in Heaven. Full choke and one oz will do the job. Good point about stock length, I've seen folks goose hunting that could have used a Youth stock then and there.