Reasonable Pheasant Hunting Expectations
Wild Pheasants, Natural Protective Cover
Reasonable Kansas pheasant hunting expectations within Mid-America Hunting Association is to recognize our pheasant hunting is on natural private land terrain on wild birds. That also means the hunter must travel to where they are, as the best population is not distributed equally statewide in Kansas, Missouri or Iowa.
After traveling for where the better hunting will be is recognition this is a real self guided hunt. No one is leading the hunter around to show him where to work his dog. There will be a learning lag time of finding the better spots within any one field.
Jerry is at right. At his age and long career of upland bird hunting he does not make any hunt a work event. His casual approach does get more in the bag.
Native grass Kansas hunting, January. There are two dogs out in that grass.
Two kinds of native grass hunters. Those that see a lot and bag few. Second, those that see some and bag many. The difference is dog power. A hard running dog that is not steady to flush will push many to the air for the hunter to see. A slow working steady to flush dog gains many points for hunter flush and shot.
Range Of Self Guided Hunting Recommendations
When recommending to the first year Association hunter pheasant hunting spots he has choice. His choice is along a range from the best region that we have within the tall grass where quail are limited, to draws of mixed quail and pheasants in limited numbers, to quail predominate areas of thinner crop edge.
The tall grass will concentrate the easiest to hunt birds and in the most dense numbers. These are the easy hunts where when 10, 20 to 50 birds get up within seconds and there are always a few that allow for blue sky shooting.
Mixed bag hunting in draws and crop edge is the next most likely location to find good hunting. These will be overgrown in plum thickets and grasses typically bringing the cover habitat to grain field edge. Shooting is tougher as much of the cover is higher than the hunter.
Limited populations will be found in the better quail regions of largely grain fields with thin to thick edge along woody cover. These are the larger watersheds within heavy agricultural land use regions.
Pheasant Hunting, Limits & Hunt Quality
What is reasonable is that cut crops hold pheasants. They are there for the food. What is not reasonable is to expect all dogs to be able to point for hunter flush and shot in the thin cover of cut crops.
Crop field hunting is a matter of degrees. Milo as seen above is the easiest for the basic skilled dogs. The more open corn field dogs more rare.
Cover so thin it appears that any pheasant being pointed would be visible to the hunter. Not so. The dog's nose knows.
Dogs that can point for hunter flush and shot on the most minimal of cover such as a cut wheat field are the top 1% of all pheasant hunting dogs.
Hunter ego is often the problem. All hunters want to believe their dogs are capable of pheasant hunting under all conditions. That is unreasonable. Seasoned hunters with multiple dogs in their background know to hunt their dogs within their capabilities. That capability of any one dog is far less than being able to hunt all upland birds under all conditions.
Unrealistic Kansas Pheasant Hunting Expectations
To know what is reasonable is to examine some of the unrealistic expectations. There are some of the more common ideas expressed to us from those that have not enjoyed good hunting.
#1 What is unreasonable is for the hunter to state he seeks the best Kansas pheasant hunting we have, typically meaning the most dense concentrations, but does not want to hunt the tall grass. The idea is the tall grass requires too much work to hunt. These are the hunters that seek ideals that do not exists such as easy to walk through cover and plenty of birds.
We have heard from some hunters that the tall grass is too hard to hunt for either the hunter or his dog. Meaning the hunter cannot see over it. Or, it is tiring to walk. In the case of dogs the complaint is the hunter cannot see his dog. If that is the case then that hunter must settle for different habitat that will yield less pheasant density. That does exist in the brush filled draws and crop fields.
#2 Another unreasonable expectation is for all dogs to do well at pointing pheasants. This topic typically comes from those with limited wild pheasant experience.
From those that have hunted grouse, pheasants and quail they will tell that pheasants are in-between ruffed grouse and quail for tolerance of a dog on point. While more tolerant than ruffed grouse they are far less so compared to Bobwhite Quail. While a particular dog may have proficiency at one type of bird and hunting condition that proficiency will not always translate to pheasants, in spite of the hunter's expectations. The failures we find described by some is the dog has too short of a standoff while on point. A pressured pheasant is given to run. The dog often sees the running pheasant, is not steady to point/flush and takes off chasing the pheasant.
#3 A common hunter statement that indicates dog issues is a hunter that says he has seen many and they must be pressured birds as they will not hold for point. Typically, when we drill down on this type of statement we find a dog with limited wild bird hunting experience and any wild bird experience is likely not on pressure sensitive birds or is on released birds. In this example the problem with the hunting is not the presence of birds, it is a dog that does not have sufficient point standoff to prevent run or flush.
Reasonable Expectations Further Defined
What is reasonable Kansas pheasant hunting expectations is to be able to hunt wild upland birds on a variety of cover. Hunter and dog will quickly find out just how good they are. Before that point. Reading what others say about their hunts is the best illustration of what to expect.