Pheasant Hunting Dog Power and Wild Pheasant Kansas Hunting
Nothing New In This Kansas Pheasant Hunting Article -- but...
No one will ever hear us describe ourselves as Kansas pheasant hunting experts. We offer these thoughts as a collection of what many hunters over many years, from many states with much upland bird and dog experience have told us.
There is nothing new in this Kansas hunting article about dog power or those elements that make for a good hunting dog. This article is the application of those elements to the private land protective cover and food source habitat and hunting approach of Mid-America Hunting Association.
These Kansas pheasant hunting experiences do not reflect all Kansas hunters. The narrow range of hunters allocated Association memberships also narrows the hunting dog power experiences represented in this article.
For Kansas pheasant hunting the differential aspects of this Association start with the Association dog rules. They begin with a maximum number of dogs permitted on the ground at one time. The intent is a quality upland bird hunting experience. Not to see how many pheasants may be bagged in as little time as possible. For those that see this difference in value this article, web site and Association of self guided hunters may be a good fit.
Dog On A Wild Pheasant Point
One of Don's.
We enjoy the upland bird hunter that seeks as much a picture of his bird dog on point as one in the bag. Those are the hunters that find the pheasant is only a requirement to make the best part of the hunt happen.
All Breeds Welcome
Perhaps of more universal interest concerning pheasant dogs is that we unlike a breed specific dog club we accept all breeds of dogs for our upland bird hunting. No distinction amongst flushers, retrievers or pointing breeds.
As a self guided hunting business the "breed" we are concerned with is the hunters' good hunt of watching good bird dog work. A club may be more biased in its approach and all the more reason we call ourselves an Association. A case where there is more to our name than may be initially apparent.
For many that open this web page they are expecting to find a listing of pheasant dog traits that may enhance or degrade the quality of the pheasant hunt. A universally accepted listing of truths. To that expectation we offer the following review.
In terms of what makes the better pheasant finding dog we should examine the three basic protective cover habitats pheasant occupy during the hunting season. These habitats are in descending order of bird densities holding capability. They are: tall or native grass, brush draw and crop edge. When examining these habitats in terms of the better pheasant finding dog behaviors they will illustrate a base line analysis point of what kind of dog power works best.
Native Grass and Pheasant Hunting
In tall grass hunting the grass is thick. The best grass grows three to five feet tall and thick enough that a dog three feet way standing motionless will be invisible to the hunter. Grass less than three feet or thin will encourage the pheasant to run rather than freeze. Grass taller than five feet while holding birds will be tough to shoot over.
In the ideal thick grass under five feet tall a dog that works close to the hunter is better than one that has long range. The value is this is that the pheasant compared to the quail is less likely to hold for point and then less likely to remain frozen to point. A hunter that can get to his dog on point faster due to working close is more likely to have more shot opportunities.
Flushers have a similar need to remain close to allow for a shot. In the tall, thick grass the typical flushing dog behavior is to work closer to keep an eye on the hunter and therefore less of an issue than with pointing dogs.
"...Here is a picture from opening day pheasant hunting in Iowa last year of my Llewellin Setter Lincoln. My wife took this picture and I told her it wouldn't turn out. I may have been mistaken..."
Brush filled draws are always welcomed after tall grass pheasant hunting. This is as much for the opportunity to hunt both pheasant and quail than for the easier to walk cover. The very topography that creates the draw allowing for brush to grow through by way on non-tillable land also separates hunter and dog.
That separation is shown by how dogs may or may not handle pheasant and quail equally well or poor. The evaluation at this point is based on shot opportunity compared to birds seen. Using that as a basis determines if that dog and hunter have the right combination of behaviors to do well in any one protective cover type. Or, shows after trying the three which is best for that hunter's enjoyment.
The better pheasant hunting will be had by the hunter not sky lining the draw top edge. By hunting the bottom of the draw the hunter remains less visible. This is where the walking is more difficult than the crop edge. Observation of both dog and bird is degraded. To walk the rim would be to expose the hunter to pheasant observation and encourage escape behavior. The real challenge if the hunter walks the bottom of the draw is the higher elevations to each side that may present a dog within the shot cone when swinging on a bird.
In this draw type pheasant hunting the closer a dog works the better, single dog better than multiple dogs. If multiple dogs are hunted then knowing where each dog is prior to shot is valued. The challenge is again the topography of a draw has a tendency to change a dog's hunting pattern. A commonly observed dog hunting pattern in a draw is to cast long on the easy to traverse crop edge and then dive into the brush, cross over the draw and do the same long edge cast either to the direction of the hunter movement or away. The result is a dog that may appear from any direction. A dog with frequent check back is less of a safety concern then one with infrequent check back. One that works closer better than one with long range. The hunter impact should be obvious as it always should be. Only shoot at a bird when the target is as easy to identify as the background of the bird. The background aspect is much more difficult to achieve in the draw.
Bob and his pheasant hunting buddy.
Crop edge will be the least productive pheasant hunting due to reduced low to the ground thick protective cover enhancing its freeze in place behavior. The edge habitat is the question mark as it is more typical the pheasant to be found in larger pockets or spots of irregular edge. When found frequently incidental to a quail hunt the pheasant will flush away from the wood edge and out or along its length usually giving a clear shot opportunity.
A flushing dog that works close is a good choice and hard to come by in the open fields accompanying the edge habitat. This being a quail predominate cover type further limits flushing dogs providing good shot opportunity. This habitat type is largely the realm of the pointing dog. The more productive pheasant hunting dog in this cover is the one with the longer point standoff. This is due to the edge habitat is typically thinner than that which encourages longer pheasants remaining frozen to survive rather than given to flight.
Now the disclaimer as many will have varying interpretations to these hunting comments. All of the above is a generalization and not an attempt to put absolutes on dogs, pheasants or hunters. We should all agree this article serves only as an evaluation point and not the final conclusion. Nature we should also agree is infinitely varied and will offer as many exceptions to the rule as the rule may prove itself. This is a self guided hunting organization and as such the hunter will make his hunt and his dog.