Hunting without a dog can be challenging, but with the right preparation, you can have success!
When going pheasant hunting without a dog, there are many factors to take into account. One of the most essential is being aware of your environment and how best to stay secure.
If you are new to hunting pheasants or have never done it before, it is wise to consult experienced hunters for advice before venturing out on your own. This will give you more familiarity with the terrain and guarantee a rewarding experience.
1. Know the Area
To take advantage of a great pheasant hunting season, you must become familiar with the area. This can be done by scouting beforehand from either your vehicle or through binoculars.
When scouting an area for pheasants, be sure to focus on those areas likely to harbor them. These could range from grassy fields and wooded patches to sand and gravel pits, or even country cemeteries.
Before you embark on your hunt, it’s wise to be aware of the season dates. These can be found on the pheasant department website; marking them down on your calendar in advance will help guarantee you don’t miss any hunts.
You can use an app like HuntStand to view the outline of different habitat types on your smartphone, helping you decide where to begin your hunt. Regardless of whether you have a dog or not, this is an excellent way to plan out your day’s activities and get an idea of where birds will be throughout the day.
Pheasants in ringneck countries often choose grassy and riparian habitats, as well as food plots for foraging and roosting. Other popular pheasant habitats include native prairie, Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grassy fields, hayfields, fallow fields, windbreaks with brushy fence lines or un-mowed grass, plus native prairie.
This type of cover offers great insulation from the elements and makes birds less vulnerable to predation. Furthermore, it helps them forage more efficiently and conserves energy for keeping warm.
If you possess a North Dakota pheasant hunting license, there are plenty of places to hunt these birds. While pheasant counts in the northwest part of the state have been down, pressure is low and you’ll have plenty of opportunities for some nice shots. Ellendale and Edgeley in southeastern North Dakota have been known to produce good numbers of pheasants; so these areas should be checked out!
2. Be Prepared
Pheasants can be a challenging upland bird to hunt without the assistance of a dog, but there are a few steps you can take to increase your chances of success.
Before you head out into the field, be sure to do your research. Start by scouting several times in search of prime pheasant locations. Doing this will enable you to know where the birds are and make your hunt more successful.
Pheasant hunting is typically best done on public land with food and covers nearby. This could include farmlands or areas with corn or wheat fields.
You may want to search for areas with some bare ground and dense bushes around them, or even on the sunny side of hills. These typically have more pheasants due to less cover and fewer predators.
Another way to increase your success rate is by walking in a linear habitat like fence rows or roadside cover. This type of environment offers you a chance to walk a staggered path which may eventually push or squeeze a pheasant out of its territory.
It’s essential to remember that pheasants are small, fast, and can run away from you quickly. They’re highly elusive so take your time and stop often.
Pheasants often get nervous and flush when approached, so it is essential to remain quiet and not get too close. If you do trigger a flush, be prepared to shoot as soon as possible.
Pheasants are hardworking animals that need to stay active to survive. If you see one walking slowly, don’t worry – it probably isn’t trying to escape from you. On the other hand, if it starts running away from you, that could indicate an attempt at flushing.
3. Be Quiet
When hunting pheasant without a dog, it’s essential to remain silent. Doing so will reduce the bird’s hearing advantage and allow you to flush them without being noticed.
In addition to remaining quiet, you should also avoid making any unusual or loud noises that could disrupt the bird’s environment. This includes things like four-wheeler noises, coughing, talking, or anything else that sounds like it might come from outside its habitat.
Pheasants often duck under cover of sound when disturbed, which can be a major disadvantage when hunting in areas that often receive a lot of hunting pressure.
Be mindful that pheasants possess excellent hearing, meaning they can hear even muffled laughs and conversations. Additionally, their keen eyesight allows them to observe your movements and reactions accurately.
If you want to be as stealthy as possible when pheasant hunting, try hunting into the wind. This will reduce auditory advantage and allow you to move more effectively into the cover.
Pheasant habitats can also be found by paying attention to fence lines, ditches, and transition areas. These are places that pheasants frequent throughout the day as they search for food and shelter.
When pheasant hunting, you should aim to move as slowly as possible. Doing so allows you to weave through cover in a zigzag pattern and increases the odds of flushing a bird before it gets too far away. Plus, by walking slowly behind the bird and shooting without them noticing you, you could increase your chances of success significantly.
4. Don’t Forget Your Gear
If you’re going hunting pheasant without your dog, make sure not to forget any essential gear. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the hunt and neglect to bring along what is necessary for safety.
When out hunting pheasants, it is essential to wear clothing suitable for the weather conditions. Wear a bright orange vest so you are visible to other hunters and consider wearing a hat that will protect you from UV rays from the sun.
One important tip when hunting pheasants is not to talk too loudly, as this may irritate them and prevent them from flushing. This especially applies when in a large group setting.
To avoid this outcome, be extremely quiet and approach slowly. Even the slightest noise can startle birds into fleeing in fear.
Though you may wish to share your observations and anecdotes with fellow hunters, it is best to remain silent. Pheasants possess keen hearing, which allows them to pick up on even subtle sounds such as laughter or conversation from afar.
Sign language can also be a great tool for communicating with your team members. Doing so keeps everyone in the field informed without disturbing other hunters.
If you are out pheasant hunting without your dog, having a reliable communication system is paramount. Not only will this help avoid any mishaps in the field, but it will make locating downed birds much simpler – not only saving time but also decreasing stress levels in the process.
5. Be Ready to Shoot
Pheasants can be challenging animals to hunt without the assistance of a dog, but with some planning, it can be an enjoyable experience.
When hunting pheasant, it’s essential to be prepared. This means being able to shoot accurately and efficiently. To do this effectively, you need to know how to mount the gun correctly and select your shot carefully.
You must also be prepared to shoot in various conditions. For instance, if you’re hunting thick cover, make sure that you know how to navigate through alders and shelterbelts. Doing this will enable you to identify escape routes the birds might use.
When pheasant hunting, one important aspect is to be aware of where the birds may hide. Doing this will enable you to locate them faster and more effectively.
It is also essential to be aware of other hunters’ locations. Signs that there may be many birds nearby can indicate where they might hide. Often, these animals will hide in places where other hunters have previously hunted.
One way to locate pheasants is by returning to an area you have previously hunted. This will provide an excellent chance to bag more birds.
As a first-time hunter without your dog, it is essential to be prepared for various scenarios that could arise in the field. Doing this will allow you to enjoy your time hunting more thoroughly and increase your chances of bagging multiple pheasants.
When hunting pheasants, it’s essential to remember that a bird only lives as healthy as the person taking care of it. If you cannot provide proper care for your bird, do not waste your time or energy trying to take it on hunts. Doing this helps avoid injuries and other potential issues which could ruin your hunting day.