FIND ROOSTERS ON THE RUN

Field and Stream - - THE MIXED-BAG CHEAT SHEET - —P.B.

While you were up in a tree wait­ing on Mr. Big, pheas­ant sea­son started. Open­ing-week­end birds learned a hard les­son fast: run or die. Now that you’re ready to hunt, the game is def­i­nitely afoot. From now un­til cold weather slows them down, pheas­ants run—and you have to put the brakes on them.

The tra­di­tional gang ap­proach is to beat pheas­ants with num­bers: Block­ers sneak into po­si­tion at the edge of the field, and walk­ers start at the other end and move to­ward them. Put the younger hun­ters on the wings, as they’ll walk a lit­tle faster, mak­ing the line into a wide, shal­low U, which helps cut off birds that flush out the sides. When driv­ers meet standers, birds fill the air. Iden­tify your tar­get and be sure you can see sky be­low its belly to avoid un­safe low shots.

If you pre­fer to hunt with a small group or a part­ner, you

can still cor­ral run­ning pheas­ants. Look for strips of cover— wa­ter­ways, stand­ing food plots, shel­ter­belts—where you can post a blocker. Block­ers should post at the up­wind end so pheas­ant scent car­ries to dogs ac­com­pa­ny­ing the walk­ers. Be ready as you near the blocker, and stay ready af­ter you reach the end of the strip. Some birds will run as far as they can un­der cover, then sit tight. Give them a few min­utes to get ner­vous and flush be­fore you move on.

Hunt­ing alone? Plan to push birds into cor­ners or against field edges where they have to fly or sit. Pick up the pace as you get within 80 yards or so of the end of the cover and be ready to shoot. As al­ways, be pa­tient when you reach the cor­ner. Any­time a dog—flusher or pointer—gets birdy, stay close be­hind. Purists dis­agree, but I think there’s no dog work more thrilling than watch­ing a dog creep af­ter mov­ing pheas­ants. Half of those birds will bust wild but in range, some will sit for an in­stant then go, and a very few will hold tight. All of them will be birds you earn.

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