Pheasant hunting without dogs

ChrisC

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Jul 21, 2016
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Massachusetts
The state wildlife agency here in MA stocks pheasants throughout the state on both public and private lands. I know very little about this sort of hunting, but since one place they stock is right down the street, I figured I'd give it a try.

However, I feel like most pheasant hunting is done with dogs. Does someone hunting without dogs have any chance of being successful, or will my "success" be found only in the fact that I had a nice day outside walking around?

Thank you
Chris
 

rwc101

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Laramie, WY
Your odds of success will go up quite a bit if you can find a few friends to go with you. Have two or three people walking towards the center of a field from each side. Pheasants tend to run until they can't so you want to drive them towards someone else. When I hunt pheasant in SD the dogs are just for retrieving birds. You might have to kick up farm raised birds to get them to flush.
 

JCS

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I have never had a dog pheasant hunting and have probably killed hundreds in my lifetime. I find good habitat and start walking
 

btweedy

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your biggest threat in this type of hunt is the ability to find a wounded bird. Being a good shot is important. I have probably hunted dozens of times and a lot of birds without a dog but concentrate heavily on certain habitat and hunt it differently.

My dog points and retrieves. In certain areas both pointing and retrieving are important but I hunt wild birds in SD
 

BrentD

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Can't imagine hunting w/o a dog. It is not finding birds to shoot that is the big issue, it is finding birds after being shot. Even if they are dead, they can be hard to find. But pheasants don't die easy like quail or doves. They easily outrun you, and that is, IF you can find them in the first place. You don't have to have a super star trained dog, but a dog that knows to use his nose will catch on pretty quick to what you are looking for.
 

maxx

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your biggest threat in this type of hunt is the ability to find a wounded bird. Being a good shot is important. I have probably hunted dozens of times and a lot of birds without a dog but concentrate heavily on certain habitat and hunt it differently.

My dog points and retrieves. In certain areas both pointing and retrieving are important but I hunt wild birds in SD
This right here. You can get birds up without dogs it is the finding part that is really difficult, hell it can be hard with a good dog on birds that aren't hit hard.

Walk smaller chunks of cover, hunted edges of cover towards dark or as late as you can legally hunt them. As soon as you drop a bird mark it well and hustle over there.

It is hard but it can be done. Once you own/hunt over a good dog you will never try to hunt without one.
 

Carl 9.3x62

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Laramie, Wyoming
We use to hunt pheasants without dogs somewhat successfully. They were farm raised birds so I think that made it easier, but having a dog is definitetly helpful, just like what the other folks have said already. I actually kind of enjoy hunting birds without a dog. I like to try and spot pheasants on the ground and then run and flush them. I wouldn't let not having a dog keep you from going, but you won't be as successful.
 

JLS

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Drive towards edges, work all the way to the break in cover. Stop occasionally and listen. Go slow so you aren't walking past birds. Be selective on shots and don't get greedy. Wounded roosters are tough to find.

Good luck. I killed a lot of birds without a dog in college.
 

denverteacher

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Apr 23, 2019
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Denver
The state wildlife agency here in MA stocks pheasants throughout the state on both public and private lands. I know very little about this sort of hunting, but since one place they stock is right down the street, I figured I'd give it a try.

However, I feel like most pheasant hunting is done with dogs. Does someone hunting without dogs have any chance of being successful, or will my "success" be found only in the fact that I had a nice day outside walking around?

Thank you
Chris
If you can hunt ditches with good cover and that are adjacent to ag fields. That can be really effective way to find birds when you are by yourself. Also, if in a lrger field, zig zag. pause while walking etc.
 

Hunting Wife

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Almost North Dakota, not quite Canada
Some good advice here. My husband and his father never had dogs and they are/were the most successful pheasant hunters I’ve ever met. They just knew pheasant behavior. Some of the things I learned from them:

1. Hunt quiet!
2. Hit the roost cover right at first shooting light.
3. Push the cover all the way to the end. They’ll run like crazy ahead of you, but often stop when they run out of cover. Put your foot right in the end of it.
4. In big grass, zig-zag a little as you go to cover a wider swath.
5. Stop occasionally, unless you’re getting to the end of cover...then don’t stop! If you have a partner, someone swing around and post up at the end of the cover.
5. If it’s big grass, keep working swaths through it. They’ll peel out around you and sit if they have enough room.
6. There’s nothing quite like tracking pheasants in fresh snow. That is really fun to do.

This is how we hunted wild, heavily pressured birds pre-dog. Released birds might be a little more forgiving. As others mentioned, it’s finding wounded birds where the dog really helps the most.
 

BrentD

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I like to hit the roost cover right an hour before end of shooting hours. They will be coming back from the feeding grounds, but that is also thick stuff and not a good place to be looknig for a wounded bird. Strip cover is your friend for pheasants without dogs. Mark their falls against the horizon. If you have a buddy who does the same thing and you both immediately march on that line, you will triangulate on that bird better than you might think. But no deviations for going around briars, don't stop to reload, or even look down at your boots. March. It works.
 

Crumb

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Minnesota
It can be done, but.... only shoot close birds and only shoot one at a time. Pay very close attention to where the bird drops and hustle to it as soon as it drops. I don’t know how many times I’ve dropped a bird thinking it was dead only for the dog to find it 50-100 yds from where it went down. They are cagey and fun all at the same time!!
 

gouch

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SW Oregon
It can be done and I have done it with some success but if you decide you like pheasant hunting, get a dog. 75% of the fun in pheasant hunting is interacting with a dog. Unless of course you just don't like dogs.
 

ElkFever2

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Iowa
Dog hunters bag (really, recover) about 2-3 times as many birds. I hunt them without a dog unless I'm hunting with a friend. Skip the large blocks of cover because they'll usually just run around in it and evade you. However if it's really cold or snowy they can hold tight allowing you to flush them. Don't be afraid to pass on long shots, shots through brush, and other marginal shots. If you wing one it will usually run away from you and you won't recover it without a dog. A rooster has a long tail making it look like a large target in flight. It's not! They have heavy bones for their size and are tough. Ignore the entire bird and focus exclusively on hitting the head. Drop them and Mark them. I'll avoid shooting more than one unless I shoot the first one out in the open. Once you get some experience you'll have an idea of what cover they prefer in different conditions but there is a learning curve. My favorite time to hunt them is late season when they congregate in heavy cover and are forced out in the open to feed more
 

IdahoPotato

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Sep 24, 2017
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Our local WMA has a 2 bird daily limit. Stocked birds. I don't have a problem getting a daily limit most Saturdays or Sundays. I feel like you get a little more exercise as well. Walking out with 2 birds in hand as the dog hunters are heading in is fun as well.

Just walk all types of cover until you find them and you will eventually figure out where they like to hide after many days hunting the same area.
 

PeteTheBeat

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Jul 8, 2018
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Get to know a pheasants habits and you'll do just fine. If its prime feeding time you don't want to be in the CRP.
I tend to zigzag slowly when solo and get a lot more flushes this way. Don't be afraid to stop frequently.
Find areas that one person can cover... A ditch or small parcel of land fit the bill.
 

thusby

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Apr 2, 2019
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I've heard of a guy (never met him) that blood trails hit pheasants on his hands and knees. Kind of sounds like an idiot to me. Stay out of the tall grass and dump them over a cut field and you will be fine.
 
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