FIND ROOSTERS ON THE RUN
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.