Hunting pheasants? Curious about pheasant behavior? I have information you need to know before you bag your first or tenth pheasant.
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The common pheasant is a well known game bird and one of the most
hunted in the world. Pheasants are not native to the United States, but
were introduced here from Asia in 1857.
The pheasant color range is from almost white to nearly black and when hunted they are able short distanced fliers; but prefer to run.
They feed solely on the ground - from nuts, fruit and seeds to lizards, snakes and mice.
Roosters often are accompanied with several hens and they will build their nest on the ground. The females produce approximately 10 eggs over a two to three week period from April to June.
The chicks stay close to the female and resemble a full grown bird at only 15 weeks of age. By then the only way you can tell the difference of a adult pheasant to a young one is by the neck size.
To be successful hunting pheasants you need to learn their daily routine.
Just after sunrise pheasants are typically on the move to their morning feeding area, which is a small 1/2 mile or so in diameter. They will feed for approximately 1-2 hours.
Ring neck pheasants are "farm birds," preferring crop fields and grassland over woody areas. They need gravel and pebbles (grit) to break down the hard food they eat in the gizzard.
After feeding, they will move to a good cover like a grassy area by the crops for the day and venture out to feed again an hour before sunset. Knowing the times they do this will ensure when you are hunting pheasants that it will be a successful hunt.
This is an example of a typical day in a pheasant's life. Now in different habitats, they may not move at all because the "weedy" corn, soybean or grain field. This provides the desired cover and food they need for the day. Or, they may stay in their roosting area if it has the same conditions.
The pheasants will get the water they need from some of the food they eat and any standing water they find.
This is why you should invest some time and learn the schedule of the pheasants in your area because it will be well worth it in the end when you start hunting pheasants.
If you are scouting the area before you begin hunting pheasants, I would
look for them first in the areas that are ideal to them such as crop
fields, undisturbed grasslands, small woody lots, brushy of grassy fence
lines and bushes.
hey also love cattail marshes in the winter because they will hear their predators coming, and they can quickly burrow themselves in the dense cover.
If you are hunting pheasants in the early season, I have some tips for you.
You will find pheasants everywhere in the early season and look in brushy draws, roadside ditches, corn and grassy fields.
If you have your own land to hunt on, GREAT - if you don't public land will have many birds but will be crowded in the first few days.
I would wait it out the first day the season opens and go to the public land on the second day. You and your dogs will be successful and will flush out many birds that were missed because they ran from field to field on the first day.
Look for the really dense and hard to reach cover that only the "die-hard" hunters would go.
Some hunters are very lazy and look for the easy kill, and success will come to the one who goes above and beyond what the average hunter will and goes to areas no one else will. Sad, but this is true of any hunter in any sport.
I have information for the late season pheasant hunters.
Most veteran hunters would rather hunt this period than the early season because chaos will erupt and you have to "fight" for the area you want to hunt on public land. Again, if you own your property you will not have this to contend with when hunting pheasants.
Try to find dense spots in the middle of a grassy area or thicket. Most hunters are not willing to walk that far to cover such a small piece of cover and sometimes they are loaded up with pheasants. Pheasant seek even thicker cover as the season progresses.
Check the road ditches and if you see an crop area such as a corn field that has just been harvested, you may find birds around it.
Pheasant rely on their hearing to detect danger so be quiet. Slamming your car door and yelling to your dogs will send a pheasant scurrying hundreds of yards ahead of you.
If you know anyone that has land in CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) that would be ideal area for hunting pheasants. It provides nesting and roosting cover and unlike a hay field, it is not mowed.
Mowing destroys the nests and kills the chicks. Most of these fields do not have food that pheasant eat so if there is a crop field nearby I would bet that it is loaded with pheasants.
The first snowfall of the year confuses birds and makes them nervous. Now you will not find them in grassy areas because the snow weighs down the cover. When hunting pheasants, look for them in spots that provide a secure overhead such as cattail marshes, brushy draws and woodlots. This cover will also give them protection from the wind.
The birds will allow themselves to become snowed in under the cover. They may even stay there a day or two after a snow storm, but will come out to feed on the first calm and sunny day.
The good thing about snow for the hunter is that the birds are more concentrated in a group because it is harder to find feeding areas and decent cover for protection.
If you are looking for pheasant tracks in the snow when pheasant hunting, it is so much easier in the snow. First you need to determine if the tracks are fresh. If the tracks have drag mark - you have just found rooster tracks because the long tail skims the snow.
If you heard a "kawk-kawk" on a spring morning, that is a rooster declaring the territory in which he stands is his and his only. It also attracts the hens during the breeding season.
Ring neck pheasants are not a one women bird. They will have a dozen hens or so in his breeding harem. Roosters show off their assets by strutting with ruffled feathers, ear tufts erect and wattles swollen and bright red.
The eggs are laid into a tiny area scratched into the ground by a hen and then covered with grass and some feathers. This is a bad time for them because predators like raccoons, snakes and skunks love the eggs and will raid the nest.
If this happens, the hen will build another nest and lay more eggs. If the second nest fails and is raided or if she built it in a hay field and it is mowed, she may build the third nest (bless her heart).
The hen is a dark beige in color with brown and cream colored mottling from head to tail. This is nature's way to protect her and the eggs (or chicks) because she blends into her environment perfectly.
The eggs hatch in early summer and like I explained at the top of the page, the chicks mature rather quickly and stay with the hen for only two to three months.