Goall-in for roost­ers

Find pheas­ant is­lands in a sea of cat­tails

Outdoor Life - - WILD AMERICA - By Alex Robin­son

Shoot­ing a limit of roost­ers on pub­lic land is a lot harder than it used to be. Bird num­bers are down across most of pheas­ant coun­try, and hun­ters who use pub­lic ground have taken the hit the hard­est. To be suc­cess­ful, you’ve got to switch up con­ven­tional tac­tics. So for­get easy fencerow pushes and big drives across grass fields. If you want to kill roost­ers, focus on large stretches of heavy cover, and that means cat­tail sloughs, says An­thony Hauck, di­rec­tor of pub­lic re­la­tions for Pheas­ants For­ever, who spends about 50 days each sea­son chas­ing pub­lic birds with his two cocker spaniels.

Think Big

Hauck looks for a string of pub­lic lands that run to­gether for at least a half sec­tion, but a full sec­tion is even bet­ter. The big­ger the piece, the more likely you are to find birds that haven’t been messed with. He won’t waste time on an 80-acre field. From there, he hunts his dogs through the largest, thick­est cat­tail sloughs, work­ing into the wind. “Pheas­ants are edge birds,” he says. “I’m not a bi­ol­o­gist, but when I see an in­side edge within an ex­panse of cat­tails, I know it will hold birds.” Some­times the pheas­ants will bunch up in large groups and mass-flush out of range in a flock of 100 or more. In that case, Hauck hunts his way over to the flush site and gives his dogs a chance to work the area hard. Usu­ally there will be a rooster or two that didn’t fly with the rest and is hold­ing tight. The idea is to break off a few birds from the larger flock and chip away at your limit.

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