Quail and Pheasant Hunting Shared Success Fundamentals
A keen eyed youth hunter with practiced shooting skills earned a male quail only bag. Something that seems impossible for the bifocal generation.
Quail and pheasant hunting fundamentals for those new to our organization and our Iowa, Kansas, Missouri region of wild Bobwhite Quail and pheasant hunting. We work with all self guided hunters regardless of previous experience to insure all have as good of a hunt as possible.
There are three parts to make wild quail and pheasant hunting successful. They are the hunter's willingness to walk, shooting ability and dog power. All three elements are required for success. We take these elements and offer an adaptation to Mid-America Hunting Association.
Hunting and Habitat
We learned long ago to intentionally over do the quail and pheasant hunting in the field pictures.
Many hunters join this Association from home states without the kind of crops and cover habitat well known to local hunters. In this case, at right, Bobwhite Quail cover.
The dog (dark spot near center) is pointing a single quail with head down into the milo stubble. It is a warm windless day keeping scent cones high and short.
The easy answer for any quail hunter is to walk every cut crop field regardless of any perceived human evaluated cover. The next rule is to always walk every milo field for quail. This may seem pointless right now. After some time working dogs over these fields the results will show the value in that statement.
The point above was well after the initial covey flush and one of many singles points in this milo field.
Any Quail and Pheasant Hunting Hunter's Willingness To Walk Does have A Maturing
Within MAHA the hunter's willingness to walk will be tested. Every hunter will have more private land to walk/hunt than time or energy.
What is common is for the first year Association hunter not to fully recognize this land asset. Or, those that do may take it to its extreme.
Some hunters often will attempt to hunt as much as possible. He is the one that is at the first field of the morning to wait for day break. Walks every day light hour and see increasingly better success.
That same hunter will hunt the fields from each truck stop as fast as he can. He may walk through 640 acres or four quarter sections in a day. Stopping only when dark. That 640 acres may not seem like enough. However, our approach to individual dog hunter rather than drive hunters make 640 acres a long walk.
The traveling hunter making the most of his always too short vacation days will also hunt as much as he can. We understand the need to fulfill that feeling of satisfaction gained from physical stress and good dog work. That satisfaction will change with time. It will evolve into less anxiety about if there will be a good quail and pheasant hunting. It will change into the land is there so are the wild quail and pheasant. That hunter will then change his approach to more enjoy the hunting without the anxiety of making it a competition with himself.
Soon. it will be discovered. Typically around the third day of the first hunt, that competition is lacking. There is not any need to race and beat the other hunter to the next spot. It will also be discovered with our large farms that there is a difference between working dogs though portions of a farm as opposed to covering the farm.
Those that are drawn to pheasant hunting will quickly pick up on the nuances of tall grass. That is what is good and less good grass cover. The importance and spacing of grain fields. The avoidance of wooded areas. What a brush filled draw means to a mixed bag.
The quail hunter learns the coveys will make a liar out of him. The coveys will be found in some of the less visually appealing spots that may be the last to be hunted. Usually on the return leg of the walk back to the truck rather than first stepping out.
It will not be long until those four quarter section days are reduced to three quarters or 480 acres per day. This acreage will turn into what is actually being hunted rather than the higher amount that is available. The smaller properties begin to gain appeal over the large blocks of lease land. The short breaks in the truck seat between fields get longer.
None of this must be believed at the point of reading this article. However, most will find it true. After the first quail or pheasant hunting trip. Or, probably not later than half way through the second trip for the slower learners. The hunter will take a couple of minutes in his truck between fields to leisurely finish his soda before the next walk. At this point the member has come to accept that he will be able to to be quail or pheasant hunting whenever he has time. There is more private hunting land to hunt than all the MAHA hunters can pressure. The pheasant and quail are there. His dogs will support this conclusion. By the fifth hunting day they too have slowed down and some will have boots on.
One Cold Pheasant Hunting Season - plus some quail
Titled the "Ice Box" hunt by Don and Ken who found this hunt cold to the point of walking only a short distance from the truck with frequent warm ups.
All agree shooting ability must be present within the hunter.
The evaluation many make of marking a good hunt is by what's in the bag. Perhaps what is seen and shot at but not bagged and dog points and flushes would be a better measure of the day's enjoyment. That is for those that can find humor in their own inabilities and truly enjoy their dog. These are the hunters that can rise above their ego.
For most new Association hunters that may for the first time in their upland bird hunting career are experiencing a wealth of land, habitat and wildlife that ego point is a hard sell. For some each shot, both at the pointed or flushed as well as the wild flush is one more score to be kept. That is if that shot ends with a bag weighed down. After a while the need to harvest will become less the goal of the day and the quality of the dog work gains more appeal. This change soon follows with those that seek to hunt and enjoy their dogs. Soon any jump shots become an interruption of that endeavor. This aspect is lost on many until gray hair begins to show.
Most that read our quail or pheasant hunting web pages seek harvest pictures as evaluation for their potential for a good hunt. We have the wild Bobwhite Quail and pheasant hunting most seek. It is due to the right habitat in the right regional state location that makes for the better hunts. Harvest pictures are required and pictures of multiple hunters and dog give further proof we have good wild pheasant and quail worth the time in the field. It is however, the habitat pictures that serve the future hunter more of what to look for when out on the ground.
Upland Bird Hunting Dog Power
Hunters do not hunt hard or as often if it were not for the dog. This is true even for those that hunt for the bag count. It is dog power superior to the hunter to find to their satisfaction both quail and pheasant that drives most to hunt.
Given that, all that remains is the ability of that dog to point or flush. None are equal and none have the same enhanced instincts brought about by training. Within this Association there is not any discrimination as to breed or method for an upland bird hunting dog. As all hunters may hunt without mixing their dogs with another.
What Do Dogs' Point
This came to us by way of predominate pheasant hunting background hunters
A quail and pheasant hunting topic that remains a mystery to many hunters is what do dog's point?
This surprised us with this group of long time Kansas pheasant hunting experienced hunters is that it was even a discussion point. And, it did turn hotly debated down to being emotional at one point.
Plenty has been written that may be summarized into one truth that anyone can test relatively easily to prove the theory that pointing bird dogs point lung scent, not body or foot scent.
We of course at this point assume all agree that all animals have the same three distinctive scents. That left by the exhaust of their lungs, airborne gas. That which flys/falls/brushed off from their body skin/feather particles thrown about the surrounding objects. Third, foot deposits on the ground.
The first test is to take a live pheasant and wrap it in a heavy plastic bag save its head. Place that bird in a covered position. Release the bird dog and that dog will point.
The second test in the field. An experienced bird dog points live pheasants and he retrieve dead ones. Dead birds do not breath but still have a body and foot to leave scent.
A third observation does the pointing bird dog point the ground or air? Body and foot scent is believed to be on the ground such as demonstrated by beagles and tracking hounds. Lung scent is airborne and of less duration.
The real value of this discussion is the conditioning of the pheasant hunting experience. It is not to put fixed boxes of behavioral norms that are the chaos of nature.
At best we can generalize. The worst case is to say things along the lines that a 6 foot stand off pointing dog on a single pheasant in 4 foot grass on a 10 mph wind day will get a point for a hunter flush, shot opportunity. A lot of hunters desire that certainty. Some will even talk themselves into such pheasant hunting rules much to the entertainment of others. What is real is that certain pheasant hunting conditions to include that of dog power enhance or degrade the number of birds pointed to hunter flush or not. Pheasant hunting enhancements and degradations are not immutable ideas, they are a continuum based on changing conditions.
More Than Pheasant Hunting For Bag Counts
Hunters with any wild pheasant hunting time will quickly recognize the value of this picture.
Anyone that has hunted plum thickets knows full well the sinking feeling that follows any pheasant or quail dropped after shot into a plum thicket.
That feeling is often expressed by a groan. That groan is from the knowledge that any point in a thicket or a rooster dropped into one without a buddy that retrieves means to leave the gun behind, hunch over at best, most likely crawl into the far stronger than they look thicket to release the point or to retrieve. The goal besides the obvious is not to get stuck in the eye.
For a pup as this one not strong on retrieve to do so from a plum thicket is to make him loved all over again. This day he reminded me that not all pups or people meet our ideals at all times. To compare any current pup to the few great ones that may have punctuated our previous years would be un-fair. Accepting his strengths, ignoring his weakness makes for more enjoyment. Getting that special feeling of satisfaction of spiritual tranquility only another upland bird dog hunter that has experienced that feeling can understand.
It is after such days that people that fail to meet our ideals have little impact on our lives. Hand gestures accompany unheard epitaphs in confined traffic circumstances are meaningless. Or, that less than agreeable person at work is ignored. The understanding is those folks probably have nothing in their lives that comes close to the mind and body restoration of a little buddy that makes us smile.