Pheasant hunters still have many opportunities.
Tight holding roosters and walking behind the dog waiting for a flush or point may be behind us for another season, but there are still plenty of opportunities for pheasant hunters. Those who don’t mind walking in dew covered fields or in bitter cold are up to the challenge of the late season.
Late season birds are educated birds. They have survived the early season and natural predators. They will panic at the glimpse of a pickup, will flush in the dark morning hours at a door slamming and will not be found anywhere close if you don’t hunt quietly and change a few tactics.
Hunting smart and changing your approach, will help the late season upland hunter bag more birds.
Seasoned upland hunters know that by the late season you need to change your gun pattern from improved cylinder or modified choke to a tighter pattern full choke for longer shots.
Shot sizes also need to change. Heavier shot is needed. Use 4-shot, instead of 6, for its knockdown power. Most late season pheasants won’t hold well for a dog and they won’t let you walk up on them. You’ll see far more birds out of range than in range during this time.
Zigzagging through a field causes confusion to a pheasant. Even if there are only a pair of hunters, the movement from different directions may make the pheasants sit tight.
Hunters should start at opposite ends of cover and hunt slowly toward each other zigzagging steadily through the area. Pheasants confused by the movement will usually wait until the last moment to run or flush.
Hunt in the afternoon. Most hunters will hunt early mornings and be gone by lunchtime. Early afternoon hunts will give you several hours of hunting time and rarely will you encounter other hunters. This gives the birds time to congregate back into fields that were hunted in the morning.
Instead of hunting straight from a parking area out into the field as most hunters do, hike back into the property following crop field edges and travel lanes. Then hunt the field back toward the truck. Public land pheasants are smart, but you can dupe them with a couple of non-standard tactics to make your day a success.
The Nebraska pheasant season runs until Jan. 31. Bag limits are three daily and a possession of 12 with the season open statewide. Pick up a copy of the Public Hunting Atlas or go online at outdoornebraska.org to find additional public lands that were added after the print version of the atlas was released. If you bag game or fish on public lands share your photos at #OFWHuntFishNE and see success that others have on public lands.