Traveling Hunter Kansas Pheasant Hunting Experiences, Good and Bad
The "Authors" - All Have Been Kansas Pheasant Hunting For Decades
Collective ideas from a number of long time self guided, dog training, hunters. They have years of wild pheasant experience. Each has had good and bad dogs several times over.
A Pheasant Point - late season Kansas hunt.
Failed Hunting Techniques
For pointing dog hunting, the common human behavior is to look into the cover immediately to the front of the dog on point. It is common to do so when walking in to flush. Or worse, stare straight at the dog's eyes.
The error with this approach is that when the pheasant flushes, if it flushes in the area immediately in front of the dog. The bird will be in and pass through the hunter's narrow cone of vision. This will be before the hunter can react. The hunter will then have to catch up with his line of sight. He is then trailing after the pheasant.
We describe the time lag between flush to when the hunter must acquire his target and engage as 1 to 1.5 seconds. We have never timed it as we are not that sophisticated. However, the time is very limited. Any delay on the hunter's part gives the pheasant that much more opportunity to be at a longer range. As the range increases the observer to target angle/lead requirement becomes increasingly difficult to accurately assess.
Staring down into the cover immediately in front of a dog on point also narrows hunter's cone of vision. This will lessen the detection of any pheasant that may run out from under point to flush to the side. This narrow peripheral vision leaves detection of side flush birds to hearing alone. Consequently, this delays gunner to target acquisition through having to visually seek out what was heard.
Part of this issue is the hunter that pre-season trains or tunes up his dogs. that work is often on pen raised pheasants. These pheasants have two hunter conditioning effects that work against a wild pheasant hunt. The first is amplification of the issue above. The pen raised pheasant usually requires extra kicking to get it to flush for shot. That extra kicking conditions the hunter to look at the ground for where his feet are trying to push the pheasant to flight.
The second adverse to wild pheasant effectiveness is that a pen raise pheasant flies comparatively slow. This slower flying target will not condition the hunter to sufficiently lead faster flying wild pheasants.
Dan's dog. This was north central Kansas on the most sever drought season in memory. Local and national news made much of the drought that extend up from the south into Kansas. Within Kansas the drought was limited to south central Kansas. However, all that non-resident hunters heard was Kansas has a drought. They believed all of Kansas was in a drought. The picture above shows plenty of cover. This has always been true. that if any one area of Kansas has a bad season it is not all of Kansas has a bad season. With Mid-America Hunting Association having land in several regions we area assured of good hunting some where every season.
A Better Way
An alternative is the infinitive sight cone of looking out over the horizon.
With this approach any flushed bird from in front of the pointing dog will be quickly captured by the hunter's eye. That allows for a quicker observer to target acquisition and engagement. Side flush birds will also be observed quicker as the peripheral vision is expanded.
Yes, A Controversial Hunting Topic
Take a leisurely approach to enjoy the entire hunting day rather than just count birds.
This is a controversial topic of how to approach a dog on point while hunting.
There are many ideas backed by the strength of ego more than objective analysis. For this topic the majority wins and is supported by pheasant behavior. That win is the hunter approaches up wind of a dog's point position himself as to trap the pheasant between the hunter and the dog.
It Is About The Pheasant
Pheasant behavior that is agreed to by the majority of hunters is that a pheasant's survival hierarchy of reaction to threats is to first freeze, second run and third fly.
Wildlife biologists often refer to any animals reactions in terms of survival reactions are based on minimum energy expenditures the preferred over maximum energy expenditures. Hence the freeze, the minimum energy requirement. Then run. Flying behavior being high energy consumptive behavior.
What supports this animal behaviorist theory is what many agree to be practical hunting experiences.
The first is why we use pointing dogs is that pheasant will hold for point. Or, freeze to avoid predator detection.
The second practical observation is that pheasant far more run than flush. This is frequently observed on every hunt as demonstrated by relocating, tracking points.
Third, flying is frequently after running does not escape the relocating dog. Or, escape avenues are closed due to cover running out or being pined in place by dog and hunter.
The understanding of how to approach a dog on point for the highest number of hunter flushed birds is from immediately up wind from the dog.
With dogs pointing into the wind or bird scent cone the hunter positions himself to walk into the face of the dog. Starting well out to the front to pin the bird between he and the dog cutting off two running escape routes. The bird cornered so to speak is more likely to fly than run allowing for a shorter range shot, less observer to target angle and less lead estimation.
A hunter approaching from the dog downwind to the bird increases the single direction predator pressure on the bird. That in combination with more run options that may pressure the bird from its freeze to evade to run to evade.
Pheasants and Dog Power
Dog power is one of those phrases tossed around with perceived universal acceptance having widely accepted definition. The reality is much different specific to the bird of choice and hunter styles. For this discussion dog power will simply be defined as pheasant finding capability.
Slow working dogs will have more hunter flushed pheasant points than fast moving dogs. The difference being noise pressure on the pheasant that first seeks to freeze in place.
A fast moving dog will make more noise and more readily define its position relative to the pheasant. This allows the pheasant to feel additional pressure from louder (probably perceived closer) pressure from the dog.