It’s that time of the year when pheasant hunters begin counting down the days until they can head into the field with their bird dogs. If you’re fortunate enough to know one of these upland hunters and are invited on a wing shooting adventure, read on for information on pheasant hunting etiquette, safety and tips before you head to the field. Most of these I learned from prepping for my first hunt and through experience with other upland hunters.
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If this is your first time pheasant hunting, you’re in for a big treat. I love watching the bird dogs as they work their way through the fields, go on point and retrieve the birds. It’s absolutely incredible.
1. Arrive on time and never assume you may bring a guest. It’s probably best to not even ask.
2. Make sure you bring the proper shells and shotgun. Ask ahead of time if you are unsure.
2. Pick up your empty hulls or any other trash you come across during the hunt.
2. Don’t hog all the pheasants. If you’ve already shot more than everyone else, give other hunters a chance.
3. Never give commands to another person’s dog. The handler has trained his bird dog to do things in a particular way by responding to certain commands. Don’t cause confusion.
4. Be able to identify the birds you are and are not allowed to shoot. Most places have a hefty fine when the wrong birds are shot.
5. Don’t whine or make excuses if you miss a bird. Nobody wants to hear that.
6. At the end of the field empty your shotgun and open the action or chamber. Never get into a vehicle with a loaded shotgun.
7. Thank your host and guide before you depart.
1. Exercise safe gun handling skills at all times.
2. If your gun has a safety, keep it engaged until you shoulder it.
3. Maintain a parallel line by adjusting your walking pace as needed. Also, try to maintain the same distance from the hunter on each side of you.
4. Before you shoot, make sure you see blue sky under the bird. This helps ensure your shot is safely above a dog’s head.
5. Shoot only in your safe zone-of-fire.
6. If there is ANY doubt in your mind if you should take a shot, don’t do it.
7. Do not shoot anything on the ground.
I share these tips with you from personal experiences:
1. Make sure you have the right clothes. Being able to remove layers is important as the day get warmer. However, when there is a blizzard, it’s also important to have dry pants as you spend the day walking through sleet and snow.
2. Have proper boots that are already broken in. There is a lot of walking … I mean A LOT!
3. Speaking of walking, work on your endurance well before the event. Some of the terrain has very tall undergrowth and you may be high stepping most of the way. Plus, you have to keep up with the entire line, and some people have very long legs, which means long strides.
4. Carry water and snacks with you in your vest. You don’t want to be that person eating snow in the field or yearning for the bottle of water the dog is drinking from.
5. Know how to work your shotgun. The field is no place to figure out how to load or unload it.
6. Read all the rules and regulations well before the actual hunt. Know the limits and shooting times.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself, stay safe and create memories!