View Full Version : Safety during bird hunting

Oleg Volk
October 15, 2001, 10:39 PM
I am going to hunt pheasant with an acquaintance. What's the best way to make sure that neither of us over-swings the muzzle while tracking a bird and ends up pointing at the other person?

October 15, 2001, 11:11 PM
Wear hunter orange, lots of it. Vest, cap, spraypaint your dog.
Always stay aware of where your partner is. I had to let a couple go last season because one member of the party had waded into some really high weeds and I didn't know where he was at. Turned out he was well out of the way but I didn't want to take the chance.
Where are you hunting at? Wild birds or pen-raised?
Good luck, I expect we'll see pictures?

Oleg Volk
October 15, 2001, 11:14 PM
Pics would be unlikely, how'd take them when I'll be busy. Birds would be pen-raised...I am after the experience in the basics and will do it the easy way first.

My concerns are: how to carry the shotgun using a two-point sling? how to avoid hitting partner/dog? how to avoid breaking legs by looking far ahead instead of underfoot :eek:

Art Eatman
October 15, 2001, 11:43 PM
I've never used a sling when shotgunning...I carry my gun at port arms, and continually glance at my hunting partner(s). If you're fairly close, doing a bit of chit-chat as you walk, you just flat-out do not shoot past straight ahead and to the side away from your partner. Basically, a 90-degree arc, away from your partner.

Further: Stay even with your partner; don't get ahead or lag behind. Make the point to him that he is to take the same care.

All the above holds if you're spread out. Personally, I think it best to be at least 30 to 50 yards apart, so that any "mistakes" are relatively harmless.

Walking without wrecking: It takes some practice, but what you do is flick a glance downward to check out your next two to four steps. You then look ahead and around while taking those steps. You just learn to keep repeating this process for your walk. I can absolutely gurantee you that mesquite, catclaw, cactus and rolling rocks will provide plenty of incentive to mind what I say! :D



October 16, 2001, 06:24 AM
Ditto Art's advice.
You won't necessarily be looking far ahead. If the birds are sitting tight sometimes you can almost step on them before they take flight. Last season I paused to let the line of hunters even out and saw a tail feather lying across the crop row. Remember thinking to myself that maybe a coyote had got one when it took off. Startled me so bad I didn't get a shot off!
Depending on the terrain you're hunting a sling may be a hinderance. Where I hunt the fields range from corn/milo stalks only a foot high to draws with thick weeds nearly head high. Walking the weeds is tough enough without a sling getting hung up.

October 16, 2001, 08:31 AM
My friends and I usually carry small whistles when hunting Ringnecks in corn or brush. When anyone "toots" everyone else answers. It helps to keep your friends from walking out in front if you get hung up in some nasty brush.

Will Beararms
October 16, 2001, 10:05 AM
Art gives good advice and any further info at this juncture will only augment his input. Nevertheless, I strongly suggest that you buy a pair of clear shooter's glasses with the nylon keeper strap thing. Mine are from Remington. They are the plastic wrap around version with a selection of interchangable lenses and the nylon keeper strap. It cost $20.00 + tax at Wal-Mart.

Next, determine a zone of fire for each shooter. If a bird crosses your zone, shoot it only if you are positive beyond all doubt. If there is any doubt at all, let it go.

Consider your vision and walking as a subconscious activity. Do you think about every movement and glance made when driving or riding a bike? No. Likewise, the same holds true for bird hunting. Just as you glance at all angles constantly when driving, do the same when hunting. Remember, you are not walking, you are covering ground.

Always make sure you and your partners are walking in a straight line. Never lag behind or get ahead. Make sure muzzles are kept IN THE AIR WHEN HUNTING WITH OTHERS until the time to shoot. Watch others. If they are swinging the muzzle around so that if the shotgun fired someone would get there guts shot out, warn them once sternly and if they don't stop, get away from them even if it means walking out of the field and going home.

The guys on the end will usually have a greater fire zone while those in the middle will have a more restricted field. On common technique is called blocking. Blocking occurs when a group of hunters are placed at the end of a draw or dried up creek bed or at the end of a row of cedar trees in a field commonly known as shelter belts.

The blockers are there at the end waiting for the runners that fly up late as the walkers push them through the field. If you are a blocker, ALWAYS GET DOWN ON ONE KNEE AND YELL CONSTANTLY AT THE WALKERS TO VERIFY YOUR POSITION AS THE WALKERS MAKE IT TO THE END OF THE FIELD.

As others have stressed wear plenty of blaze orange, don't forget those safety glasses and make sure you have a good, comfortable pair of boots for the walking.

With hunters whom I have known for years, I have a technique for those birds that lay down as you walk over them and get up behind the group: I pull the shotgun, muzzle up, in close to the front of my body pivoting around and once I am pointing in the direct opposite direction, I make the shot. I would not try this at your level but as you get comfortable, it can be a great way to get birds. The catch is toi make sure that everyone knows and expects this to happen.

Many will tell you pointing the muzzle on the ground is safe. I say when you are with one or more people, keep that puppy up in the air. The is too much of a chance that someone could be shot as the muzzle is raised from the ground to the shooting position.
Check and recheck your safety constantly. Remember that in the excitement of flushing birds, it is easy to forget to re-engage the safety after a volley of shots has been fired. I have done it and I doubt there's anyone on this board who hasn't done the same thing.

Good hunting

Will Beararms
October 16, 2001, 10:13 AM
Pheasants are strange birds. The fly almost straight up and then they fly off. I use the 3 count method to determine the time to shoot. If you shoot as soon as he gets up, you will miss the bird. As a rooster gets up, I count one as I start the mount, two as the shotgun is shouldered and three as the trigger is pulled.

Similarily and for what it's worth, I count one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three before taking a shot at a buck deer once he's in the crosshairs to calm the nerves and make sure I am on line.

October 17, 2001, 02:53 PM
do not shoot the dog
wait till the bird jumps up and flys away
you have plenty of time to confirm downrange targeting

point, flush, erraaack kakk kaak, booom, good dog

leave the tactical sling at home

Dave R
October 17, 2001, 03:19 PM
"mesquite, catclaw, cactus and rolling rocks will provide plenty of incentive "


Yes, and pushing an Idaho sugar beet field is also pretty entertaining. Imagine walking on giant cobblestones. Only its been raining and they're covered with slippery moss...

Watching the ground doesn't really help. You just have to place each step carefully. Your foot goes all kinds of funny ways. Its slow walking, and at the end of the day, your shins are demanding an immediate injection of ibuprofen.

At least there's nothing that will rip your legs up.

Art Eatman
October 17, 2001, 06:51 PM
DaveR, a bunch of us used to lease a ranch some 15 miles north of Uvalde, Texas. I always said that we didn't walk and hunt; we danced. In order to avoid all that thorny stuff, you wiggle your hips and twist your body as you go. By the end of the deer season, you can be up maybe five or ten pounds from all the good eats of that time of year, but be about two inches smaller in the waist from the jazzercise. :D

Out here around Terlingua, most of the bad stuff sticks you just above your boot tops--I guess it grows that way on purpose. Ain't sure whose purpose, but it sure ain't mine. And catclaw! Ye Gods and little fishes! It's the same thing as the African "Wait a bit" thorn bush. No fun at all.

I was talking to some blue quail one day; had a rock roll under my foot, and fell backwards into a catclaw bush. It took me about five minutes to get me loose and out of my jacket, and another ten minutes to persuade the danged bush to let me have my jacket back!

The quail left.

:), Art

October 17, 2001, 07:28 PM
I usually try to cover ground at a similiar pace as my buddy about 30-50 yds apart from him. That way we both can shoulder on birds that fly in front of us however ones to the right or left may only be addressed by the person on that side. Just keep aware of where your dog is, where your buddies are, and where any other avoidance obstacles are. (Plus I nicely explain to my hunting buddies the penalty for shooting my dog. ;) ) Keep a cool head and safety first.

October 17, 2001, 10:27 PM
heres a picture of a typical springer spaniel on point while 2 man hunting

Oleg Volk
October 20, 2001, 06:28 PM
The hunt went well, I got a couple of birds.I was slow aiming because I kept looking out for the dog. Learned to clean and butcher the birds, too.

A nice double beats a pump for this type of work.

Will Beararms
October 21, 2001, 12:30 AM
Don't aim. Keep both eyes open and point shoot on instinct.

October 22, 2001, 10:16 AM
With any kind of bird hunting, you should always know where your hunting partners are. You also do not need to overreact when birds flush. This is usually when problems occur. You forget about everything if you are not careful. Be as calm as possible and be aware of your surroundings.

Good Shooting,