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Mid-America Hunting Association
Most of this article focuses on self guided Kansas pheasant hunting.
It is an Association advantage of our pheasant hunting range of land extending from Iowa through north Missouri out to western Kansas that we can recommend to Association hunters where the better pheasant hunting will be from season to season.
“A December hunt showing the results of two special days…one field, one hunter, one dog, five shells. The rooster without the tail was a two shot runner the dog brought in…true triple. Dog steady to point/flush, pheasants piling out of a small plum thicket, gun never left the shoulder, never took a step, three shots, three rosters. Impossible to have counted the number of birds that came out. The quail were a bonus on the way back.” Jason
The first and foremost issue is that we do not allow day hunts or gang/drive hunting. We also do not guide and we do not allow any others to guide hunters on our land.
That one point alone, no day hunting, goes far to describe the self guided pheasant hunts we offer. It is for the individual or small party family or hunting buddies. Those that seek the quality of hunting trip. Not the number of birds shot at.
Those that seek a lot of birds in a short amount of time and limited energy expenditure should seek a release bird hunt rather than enjoyment of a wild pheasant hunt. Not only is this difference in terms of the hunt quality it also exists with the quality of the hunter. Those that train and hunt over their own dogs are the ones that will be successful on a self guided hunt. Others who do not know the effort and pride that goes into creating a four legged hunting buddy would never succeed at a self guided hunt.
The wild pheasant private land hunting we offer allows the individual hunter of his own dog to enjoy pheasant hunting in the company of his dog. That is free of the public lands hunter mentality. Over his habitat of preference. At his own pace. Those that call us with any other definition for the hunting they expect are quickly told we are not the right organization for them. We seem to say that allot on the telephone. The payback for those are hunting with this Association is the land has more hunt in it when the Association is composed of like minded hunters.
The land we select is where the better hunting will be found as we are not limited to the driving distance of a lodge for our hunting land. We make the entire state available for where to spend our private land hunting money. When we do spend that money it is where we get the most return for the hunter.
The easy answers that is uniform to all of our pheasant hunting land is it is within the grain farming regions. It takes farming to make for the food that allows sustainable upland bird populations. Most of it is easy flat land walking not requiring a compass or GPS. All will be able to see where they were and where they want to go.
The large contiguous native grass acreage shows this to be a Kansas hunting trip.
From Don’s camera. A traveling hunter that enjoys his dogs most of all and the pictures more than birds. The kind of hunter most would like to spend the day with. Thanks Don.
Those that bird hunt can see the quality of habitat, seemingly open land without cover, great weather and enjoyment that comes from a good day in the field.
One illustration we have observed that drives this point home is that many in the Association start hunting with others and change.
That change is the enjoyment of their dogs exceeds that of their adult hunting companions. The other hunter soon becomes a nuisance to the hunt. The end result is the majority of pheasant hunters enjoy hunting with their children or alone with their dog.
The individual hunter out for the quality of the hunt is who we screen for. For those Association hunters that sponsor in others they may hunt together occasionally. However the more frequent reservation is the lone hunter. When there is another on the same reservation it is common for it to be one other, three is the typical “large” group. Even then the individual members of any group are likely to hunt by themselves as often as when hunting in their group.
For the self guided hunter he will find a selection of private land regions in Kansas, Missouri and Iowa. Each have distinctive predominate habitat type and more fields than can be hunted.
The value of hunting different localities is the beak of the routine of having to hunt the same spots as many report to us. This advantage many find through their Association at greater ease than locating friendly landowners willing to let others hunt for free.
Association Iowa pheasant hunting land is over mixed terrain inclusive of quail. All Association Iowa private land is within the grain farming region captured by the Grand River Watershed. Field crops will be soybean or corn in this soil and rainfall rich locality. Iowa is also much easier to hunt than large contiguous native grass acreage that Kansas is known for. Iowa’s fields and numerous grass and brush waterways are smaller making for shorter walks.
Missouri while having pheasant hunting in the north is limited as not to be recommended for the best Pheasant hunting. Missouri is simply out of the pheasant’s natural range. A good day in Missouri would be to have seen two ad hope the shooting was on.
Kansas hunting has been the long standing producer of the best hunting. The bulk of the harvest pictures on this web site. That bets hunting comes at the requirement to cover large fields, have dogs with good standoff and willingness to work close and all day long shooting discipline regardless of the daily workout fatigue that gets us all.
In all cases we will get the hunter through the online hunting lease maps and our telephone conversation to the point of where to park the truck and hunt.
Once at the land. The self guided hunter can pick and chose of when and where to hunt. He too can develop strategies for how to hunt each type of habitat suited to his dog power, hunting style and energy level. This is how the hunter makes his own self guided pheasant hunts.
“At 12 years old I hunt him the first field each day and that is about all. Cold days he can go longer. This day the first field, one that we never before hunted, gave us these four birds. A good day for this dog that in his prime would hunt every day for the week long trip we would make.
My neighbor that thinks he is a bird hunter with a lab the size that would make two of my dog is amazed that I don’t get limits every time out especially since I pay to hunt. He says that is the reason he will not join MAHA, but “…would go with me if I ever needed a partner…”.
Although I know my neighbor hasn’t a clue what a good hunt is, he still makes me pause to think about the things he says. This day was a prime example. One field, one old dog in less than two hours hunt and four birds. That was a great hunt and we both took a nap that afternoon.”
On this last point on style and energy, the individual self guided hunter is the one that sets up the most attractive dog and bird photos.
This is a sign of a hunter that has assumed a leisurely approach to his hunting schedule. That aspect of managing his own self guided pheasant hunts as well as the each day of his trip makes for more enjoyment than can be achieved through a drive hunt.
At right is Kenneth with his first hunting dog ever.
His picture shows well that native grass Kansas hunting requires a dog to retrieve or at least mark down birds.
Otherwise the tall and thick grass will hide and waste many a pheasant. One more reason to not allow drive or gang hunting.
To jump start the self guided hunter includes an examination of failed pheasant hunting approaches that are demonstrated by the first year central mid-west upland bird hunter.
That first year central mid-west upland bird hunter is defined as one who is Kansas hunting for the first time. This experience includes terrain distinctive of prior experiences. Often this hunter travels in from non native pheasant states. Prior dog experience has been on pen raised birds. In short, a hunter who has not had the hunting we all desire the most, wild pheasants on natural terrain.
That hunting is also the toughest hunt there is. No where we will we say our hunting is easy. Wild upland bird hunts on natural terrain require more walking than any would like to walk. Keen shooting ability when fatigued. Dog power capable of wild birds that is far different than pen raised bird or field trial dog power.
Kansas hunting trip with two dogs, two hunters, four roosters bagged on a sunny day in January.
Pictured is a grass and brushed-in dry drainage, nearby a water way inside a grain field.
This spot holds a covey each year along with several pheasants. It is a spot to hunt to get away from the tall native grass fields that are the common Kansas hunting. It is also the type of protective cover we can get pictures of dogs on point rather than in tall grass where the picture of a dog on point is typically more grass than anything else. This old Brittany point was on a pheasant. The youngster setter on a far too close of an honor.
A common approach to Association private land pheasant hunting is to take the maps sheets that have the most acreage on an individual sheet as prime decision criteria of where to hunt. The belief being the map sheet with the most land means there must be more hunting. That hunt starts at the first lease closest to the motel. Then in an outward fashion each spot on the map sheet is hunted in turn until the end of day light.
The failure of this approach is that our best bird hunting is within the agricultural regions where 45% to 55% of the land use is farming. This farming land covers the majority of all Association lease land. It overlaps with sustainable pheasant populations in less than the total available acreage.
A second point is at an average of 50% land usage in farming means the best anyone could hope for in terms of wildlife habitat is 500 acres per 1,000 gross lease acres. Of that 500 acres of good habitat it is not all on one lease or one spot.
Furthermore, of that 500 acres of wildlife habitat some and not all is well suited for pheasant hunting.
All this brings the self guided hunter not to attempt to put nature in a box and take a systematic approach of hunting all land. It requires the self guided hunter to develop a calibrated eye for where to hunt and what not to. If at this point it seems to make self guided pheasant hunts too difficult then the reader is probably more suited for a guided hunt on preserve birds.
Not all is lost as we who enjoy pheasant hunting behind their own dogs cover all regions throughout the year. They, along with the online private hunting land map library, will get the hunter to the right point of where to park his truck. Meaning that on any one map sheet there will be spots of better pheasant holding protective cover. Those spots will be pointed out to the first year Association hunter. After that first season most hunters develop their favorite areas for return hunts and explore other regions as their motivation allows.
These favored areas will change with each new dog as that any one dog will perform better in different habitat than the other.
Then several singles point on the scattered covey. Switching from blue sky shooting at pheasants that fly relatively flat and away compared to quail that twist and turn sideways around tree and scrub. This hunting requires a sense of humor.
Another failed approach of the new to the Kansas self guided hunter is to draw final conclusions from limited trials.
The first hunt will not be a good hunt. A full season of hunts should be experienced before beginning an analysis. It is that the first hunt, the first season is likely to be better than experienced elsewhere. It will be the worst compared to subsequent Association hunts. Many hunters have found good hunting in this Association. There have always been a handful of new Association hunters each season that will speak only of failure.
The first hunt being better is likely as we have been in business a long time. We can get the hunter to the right pheasant hunting spot.
The first hunt is also likely to be the worst for one of three reasons:
First, many hunters simply do not have the walk in them to hunt the full day. Hunts always start strong. A full day’s walk the first day leads to the second day with longer breaks between stops. The third day is often a sleep in day. By the fourth day the realization the land and pheasants are there waiting for the hunter and there is no need to rush. Soon after the desire to be at the first field at first light or last looses importance. Then coffee throughout the day gains value. By the last day of the hunt the satisfaction feeling of having hunted enough sets in.
Next, the dog power required by wild pheasants is unrefined.It goes one of two ways. The less strong relationship between the hunter and the dogs shows through by chasing and long hunting range behavior. Or, as it does happen the dog develops into a slow stalking pheasant hunter. The odds are against the latter as dog instinctual drive is frequently stronger than hunter instilled discipline.
Third, the mentally and physically fatigue degrading shooting skills. Many will tell how when well rested on the skeet or sporting clays range they can go 100 straight. The same hunter will often tell of shots fired and birds not bagged.
Conversely, those golden days of quick limits with excellent dog work and fine shooting do occur. We all want to repeat these days far more than is realistic to except. One day of such memorable hunts per trip is likely. Every day of the hunt simply unrealistic. We humans are not that good.
After some time on the land not only is the better land for that hunter identified, the better honey holes on that land become known. Knowing those hot spots in a large field will cut down on future walking time. It will also increase the amount of time dogs are on birds.
What we all like to see. A dog that retrieves or at the very least marks downed birds for the hunter is absolutely required due to the protective cover thickness. If not having this dog power more pheasant and quail will be left in the field than make it to the bag.
If we all agree that not all of our dogs are great, good or in some cases even average we likewise should not expect every day to be a limit day.
Discussions with long time MAHA self guided hunters is their good years are defined in two parts. The first by bird numbers and second, the honest ones in terms of dog power.
There is a special satisfaction to be gained with good dog work. Even on down years. That distinction makes for the hunter we seek. Any others may not be the self guided wild bird hunters they envision themselves to be.
One hunter shot all five birds in these pictures. The other hunter just had bad luck of being in the wrong position. It looks like this hunt made for a good story between the two of them.
Nothing fancy in our self guided pheasant hunts. Nothing that would make a good pheasant hunting video. Just average hunters having average days.
Association hunter Jeremy shows a spring time pheasant.