View Full Version : Pheasant hunting help for a complete newbie

March 19, 2008, 03:13 PM
I have never hunted at all in my life...was always primarily a handgun shooter at the range. Anyhow, I was giving some thought to trying pheasant hunting, as there are a couple of grounds around me with guided hunts.

Anyhow, I have absolutely no clue where to start, or what it entails. I do have a Remington 870 police magnum. I'm guessing that shotgun will not really fit the bill?

Basically, what types of shotguns are common, along with what other clothing and other gear I'd need to look into.

Thanks in advance!

March 19, 2008, 03:23 PM
You could use your 870, because I use mine quite often. Some people prefer fancy dancy shotguns, side by side and over unders and such, but the gun is not what really matters as long as you can use it well. As to ammo, go with 71/2 to 6 shot. 6 shot will work great on ringnecks. Get yourself some good brush/briar pants and a blaze orange vest and hat. Blaze orange may look funny, but in most states it is required when bird hunting. Plus, it will make you VISIBLE so you don't get shot by your hunting buddies. To get ready for ringnecks (they flush pretty fast) go to your local trap range and shoot a few rounds.

May you have a GREAT ringneck hunt!!

March 19, 2008, 03:29 PM
Thanks for the advice...what are ringnecks by the way?

Also, will the 18" barrel that comes with the police magnum be sufficient, or would I have to get a longer barrel?

Are rifle sights on a shotgun necessary for pheasant hunting?

March 19, 2008, 03:40 PM
You do not want sights on your shotgun for bird hunting.

I would go with a longer barrel, but before you decide that, you should go try shooting some trap with it like it is.

Clothing - you will want a vest to carry birds (hopefully) and shells (have to). Check your regs to see if it needs to be blaze orange. I would go with blaze even if not required.

Depending on where you are hunting, you might want some brush pants that will shed some of the burrs and stuff.

Hat with a bill and glasses - I use my range glasses (yellow tint).

Compared to a lot of hunting, bird hunting is pretty easy to gear up for and do. Enjoy

March 19, 2008, 05:06 PM
#6 or#7.5 shot should be fine. i would check with your local ranges on barrel length requirements, to be sure that you can use an 18" barrel there. some won't allow it. if they say its ok then give it a try.

for hunting i would get a 26" or 28" vent rib barrel that uses choke tubes. go with the basic 3 of imp. cyl. mod.(should come with the barrel when you buy it.) and full choke. some places will sell the barrel and the 2 other choke tubes with it. pattern the shotgun before hunting.

for clothing brown heavy trousers to protect you from getting stuck up with the briars and other junk in the field. wrangler makes brown jeans but they aren't heavy. they may be ok. a brown hunting jacket with or without blaze orange on it. which may be easier but may cost more. i have a blaze orange vest with the game pouch in the back and shell holders on it. 8.00 at walmart(clearance sale). definetly a hat and shooting or safety glasses.

March 19, 2008, 05:12 PM
JBriggs pretty much got it right, and I apologize for repeating most of his advice:o Guess I should read more before I start typing....

Only other advice, other than given, is brush up on your gun handling safety rules and skills. It is not a solo affair, so you owe it to anyone hunting with you to practice total muzzle control and safety - and you should expect it of them.

A pheasant flush can rattle you, so don't let it jolt you into an unsafe act. Mount your gun cleanly and know your shooting zone.

Good hunting!

March 19, 2008, 05:26 PM
First and foremost you will need to take a hunter's education class in your state. Check with your local gun store about times and places for such classes. All the ones I know of are free.

Where in the US do you hail from? I ask because climate can play a big part in what gear you use. As mentioned a vest is a must and briar-shun pants are a big help. Even if it is cold(30's) resist the temptation to pile on clothes. Chances are you will be traversing difficult terrain and you will get warm with too much clothing.

In addition to the above advice I wuold recommend shooting trap with either a full or modified choke and wait for the clays to get out there a bit. The first time you see a bird flush it will suprise the living crap out of you(at least it does for most people) and the bird will be a ways off before you mount your gun.

I would suggest going with a few friends who have WELL TRAINED dogs. The importance of well trained dogs can not be exagerated. It is the difference between going home with a full vest and wanting to shoot less able canines.

March 19, 2008, 07:57 PM
You could hunt with your 870 the way it is, but I would probably get a longer barrel. Whatever you are comfortable with. Would probably go out and shoot some trap to practice up, and then find a friend to go with you. A rooster flushing is one of the biggest thrills you can have. Especially when they come up right at your feet. Don't know where you are hunting, but be ready to do a lot of walking. I have always used 4-6 shot, with a modified choke, rem 870
and this year got a 1100 auto. If you have the time and the room a good bird dog will net you a lot more shots, and a lot more fun. Some of the best days I can remember hunting were with my dog, and a group of friends during pheasant season. good luck

March 19, 2008, 08:10 PM
As far as clothing, comfortable boots, hunting vest. All I have ever used for sights are the bead on the front of my barrel. Have been hunting with people who own 2000 dollar shotguns, and can't hit a straight away bird. First pheasant I shot was with a h&r single shot that was my grandpa's, no rib, but he put red finger nail polish on the top of the breach to help me line up the bead. It is what you make of it. Biggest tip I can give you is keep your eye on the bird, not the gun, practice, and when you are walking stay alert.

March 20, 2008, 10:32 AM
Basically everyone else covered everything already. All I want to add is to answer your question of what a ring neck is. It is the most common pheasant you will hunt if not the only pheasant you will hunt.
cock ring neck pheasant:
hen ring neck pheasant:

March 20, 2008, 10:59 AM
The 870 will serve you fine if you get a barrel for it . I would go with a 26" with screw in chokes if possible . Modified is a good compromise for most pheasant hunting . You mentioned its a guided hunt , but did not mention if you are hunting wild birds or farm raised If (and i assume most likely will be ) farm raised you may want an improved cylinder choke since raised birds tend to flush closer than wild birds . Shot size , well i shoot between 4 and 6 shot on pheasants depending on how far out they are flushing due to weather , wind , how late in season ect. I dont feel that ( at least in my neck of the prarie ) anything smaller than 6 shot has the energy to make clean kills, and i despise the thought of wounded birds that are not recovered .
As for practice on clays I would recommend trap over skeet because in trap you shoot a rising bird going away which is what about 90% of all shots at phesants are .

Wear good fitting comfortable boots with ankle support as you will be almost continually walking over miles of broken ground . Vests , eye protection ect.. was covered in posts above so no need to go into that . Do wear heavy pants and long sleeves as you may well find yourself in weeds or brush that is over waist high during the hunt and scratches , thorns , ect detract from the enjoyment lol , I wear all the above + light leather gloves ( good ones can be found at any Law enforcement supply store or online at same ) .

Lastly have fun and try not to soil yourself the first time one comes up underfoot, they are somewhat a bomb going off when you can literally reach out and grab them on the way by lol .

March 20, 2008, 11:39 AM
Many states require a plug in the magazine for hunting birds. As stated above, you will need a hunting license, a longer barrel on the shotgun, plenty of practice at the local trap or skeet range, shooting glasses, some good hunting clothes, and it would help if you had someone to teach you about hunting etiquette and safe gun handling.

March 20, 2008, 01:21 PM
Check with you state game department for regulations as to clothing and whether you need to limit the number of shells in your shotgun.

A well stocked sporting goods store will have boxes of shells marked Pheasant Shot. Takes the worry out of what you're buying.

One of the nice things about shotguns in general and the 870 in particular is how easy it is to swap out barrels. You could hunt with your 870 as is, but you might as well get a longer barrel.

Hunting pheasants by yourself is not as easy as hunting with someone and it's easier still to hunt with a dog.

Shoot some skeet to get an idea of how to hit flying targets.

It's easier to skin the bird than to pluck out the feathers.

March 30, 2008, 06:08 AM
I like all the information above. You mentioned a guided hunt. Check with them(the guides) Most I have delt with are more than willing to give you tips on everthing from guns to boots. Pheasants are one of the funnest to hunt. Some will stay one the ground until you nearly step on them:eek: It will rattle you when they jump. Be alert, remember where everyone is when you shoot.
If you get a chance to use a dog and a guide, go for it. I love to watch a dog work. They are absolutely beautiful on the point. Once you start the hunt, it will end to quickly. You will be making plans for the next hunt. Enjoy.

March 30, 2008, 04:50 PM
Just wanted to add a +1 to the advise above...hunter safety...in our state you have to have it and for someone who has not hunted it will be a big help. Practice, you bet get in some rounds of skeet/trap so when you get a chance to shoot a bird you are confident you know what to do. Please, if there are dogs, ...resist the urge to shoot at a bird on the ground or a low flying bird lord help you if you nail a guides dog. A big part of most hunters safety is when a safe time to shoot is.

Frank Ettin
March 31, 2008, 12:51 AM
I would certainly go for a longer barrel without sights. The sights would just be a distraction, and IME a longer barrel will swing better.

Go to a local range and try some clay targets first (trap would be best). Shooting a shotgun at a flying target is a lot different from shooting a handgun or rifle. One of the biggest differences is that when shooting a handgun, you focus on the front sight. But in wingshooting, you never want to look at the bead on the shotgun barrel; your focus needs to stay on the target (You'll see the barrel and bead in your peripheral vision, but keep your focus on the target.)

Wingshooting is a wonderful pastime. Both my wife and I love pheasant hunting. We took up trap shooting about seven years ago, and shortly thereafter started to go pheasant hunting at least a couple of times each season. We have a friend with some fine German short hair pointers. A day in the field watching the dogs work and the pheasants flush is a great treat.