Need some pheasant help - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-20-2012, 10:01 AM Thread Starter
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Need some pheasant help

Ok, I'm figuring if anyone can help me you guys probably can. I started out hunting last year. I shot some squirrels and went out one day for deer. Well I really got hooked. This year I've spent a good number of days out looking for small game. Had plenty of good luck getting squirrel, but that's it. I've gone out 7 times so far for pheasant but have yet to get one.

I'm hunting SGL 297 in North Bethlehem. Great place to hunt and they do stock pheasant. I hunt by myself without a dog and man is it tough to flush a bird. I've only flushed one bird and that was a hen. Since this is 2A, no hens are allowed. I was lucky last Saturday as I went out at sunrise and four fellas with some beautiful dogs asked me to join them(actually it was two guys, but two other guys joined us quickly after). I did and we flushed 5 birds and shot 3. Unfortunately I didn't pull the trigger once since none of the flushes were near me.

I've been reading as much as I can about hunting pheasant without a dog and I'm still having no luck. Basically I'm just trying to make sure I'm in the woods instead of behind the laptop. I go out at sunrise and and stay out for a few hours. I've tried going a few hours before sunset and even in the middle of the afternoon. I'm walking the brush near the edges of fields moving slowly and stopping often. I'm trying to criss cross over areas and even walking the shape of an S instead of a straight line. Nothing is working. One guy I talked to said to get out of the fields and get into the woods, a different guy told me to stay out of the woods and work the fields lol. I've read to be on a south facing hill in the morning, and to not bother hunting in the afternoon. So confusing!

Pheasant ends Saturday where I am hunting, and I would really like to bring home a bird before it's done. I'm off Friday and Saturday and plan to spend as much time as possible those two days in the fields. I know I can hunt 2B after the season ends in 2A, so that's good. Can you guys offer some tips that I'm clearly missing here. Times to hunt, ideas on how to move, be quiet/be noisy, etc.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-21-2012, 12:51 AM
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Re: Need some pheasant help

Fragmag,
I'm feeling ya - I struggled like this for a long time before finally breaking down and getting a bird dog. But that's a discussion for another time.

For now, I might recommend that you try SGL 117 or 232 for pheasants. They both get more stocked birds than 297 so that will up your odds right there. Check Google maps to find the fields and hit them.

The PGC usually schedules a stocking around Thanksgiving, making the next couple of days a good time to get out. Plus a lot of hunter attention has turned to deer already so there may be less crowds.

As for tactics, just keep walking like you are and be ready to shoot when they go up. Focus on the head when you do flush one - the tail will distract you (along with the noise) and you'll miss behind it. That's OK, though. The misses are part of the learning curve. Unfortunately, you'll still have some no matter how much you learn.

Good luck to you. May you be eating pheasant come Sunday!
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-21-2012, 01:24 AM
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Re: Need some pheasant help

In general pheasant like to run, (you can easily tell this if you ever tried to eat the leg of a pheasant!!), the last thing they want to do is flush. Now I'm used to hunting wild pheasant through farm land where you would never even see one without a dog and even with a dog they'll run you all over. I've just started hunting here recently and like you I have no dog, it is tough but I've been told you can do it, I don't know if it's because the habitat is different or if it's because they are not wild birds.

Birds will usually flush when the run out of space to run to so they hit either something really dense where they're pressured or even open ground, so the edge of fields where it's mowed or a corner that ends in something dense, you'll have to nearly stand on him to get him to flush in the middle of the field. Maybe try squeeze them in towards something that will force them to fly and keep your eyes scanning, sometimes you'll see them run 50 or 100yds in front of you.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-21-2012, 02:28 AM
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Re: Need some pheasant help

Fragmag,
If you are going to hunt Pheasant, Grouse or Woodcock
I recommend you get a good gun dog. You will find it opens up an entire new sporting world for ya. The dog work will hook ya beyond belief, and you will see a lot more birds.
Pine Creek/Dave

There is nothing in the sporting world that tops a Great Gun Dog

Never care about what other people believe, be strong and walk in the way of the Lord.

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-21-2012, 02:38 AM
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Re: Need some pheasant help

i have found that when hunting without a dog i make out better by being quiet and keeping my ears open as well as my eyes. a pheasant doesnt make much noise on the ground but you can hear them walking.. also, it always seemed to me that wet weather seemed to make the birds come out in the open.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-21-2012, 10:20 AM
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Re: Need some pheasant help

Back in the 70's we would hunt without a dog and get birds. This year I've hunted a lot for the first time in a while. I got 12 birds and flushed at least 20 or more. But I have a dog and I can honestly say the dog found every bird. We didn't bump any by accident. I got one bird without firing a shot. The dog got birdy then pointed. I tried to flush the bird but nothing went up. So I told the dog the bird ran off and I started walking away. The dog jumped forward and stuck his head deep into grass that was laying over. I thought he was mousing because when he was younger and got bored he would start mousing. I went over to him to kick him in the butt and tell him to knock it off. When I got there he pulled a rooster out of the grass still alive. I took the rooster from him and wrung its neck. I told him good boy and we went on hunting. I had to almost step on that bird trying to flush it but it never flew. That proved to me it is almost a waste of time hunting without the dog. These birds will stay put or run around you and with out a dog you won't even know they are there. But if you are hunting without a dog you need to try and cover every inch of the field.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-21-2012, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Need some pheasant help

Thanks for all the great advice guys. I do appreciate it. I'm going to try out SGL 232 this Friday. As far as getting a good hunting dog goes, well I'd love to. I have two dogs now, a boxer and an Australian Sheppard. Awesome dogs, but not much for hunting. My wife and I are dog lovers, so maybe that will be in the cards in the future.

I'm going to give it two good days and try some of these tips. I've found some fields using Google Earth. Maybe I'll be posting a picture in the success threads.

I should mention that even though I'm not having the luck I want, I'm having a great time being out there. But I'm getting hungry!
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-21-2012, 12:17 PM
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Re: Need some pheasant help

If you look on the PGC website they have the stocking schedule. I don't think they are stocking this week. The next stocking will be just before Christmas.

As far as walking yourself and putting up roosters, that is tough. It is better if there are other hunters around even if not hunting together because they can push birds into each other.

I have found that a lot of times the birds like to stay in cover at the edge of a field that has a wooded hillside below it. The birds use the safety of the thick cover to hide and use the open woods of the hillside to escape danger if necessary.

Don't get frustrated by the lack of game. If you put in the time you will eventually succeed. I have a terrific dog but I am a terrible shot. I went hunting for several days this year and missed a lot of birds. When I finally did score, I was so happy, I forgot about all the disgust of my poor shooting. Hang in there and your time will come.

Since you already have dogs, you should consider a hunting dog. I can hunt all day and not see or get anything but I love to watch the dog work. Beautiful.

Good luck.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-21-2012, 04:09 PM
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Re: Need some pheasant help

Just keep on walking! Im in the same boat as you, no dog and not in a hunting group. The three times that Ive been out on my own in PA I came back with two roosters.

When I go its normally sunrise to sunset, try and find small areas that you can work by your self. 30 yards wide or below and just zigzag. Also, change it up. When pheasants get into an area and they learn an ecscape route they will use that same route every time until it no longer works, then they get confused and may flush then. When you come up to a field think about where other hunters probebly started the field and then go to the opposite side and start there.

With no dog, you got to out wit the roosters. Its not easy to do, even with these pen raised birds, but it can be done if your patiant.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-23-2012, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Need some pheasant help

Well, spent the morning/early afternoon out at SGL 232. Lot's of places to hunt pheasant there. Literally the minute I stepped out of my truck I saw 2 ringnecks fly out of the field I had chosen. I was pretty stoked. Spent the next 2 1/2 hours walking that field and the one adjacent to it, but didn't see anything. Headed back to my truck and noticed two dead does about 50 yards from my truck. Both had been eaten up pretty good.

Moved on to the next field and walked for about an hour. Sat for awhile, walked for a while in the fields, took off and walked the woods for a bit and finally called it quits around 1:30. Was wet, muddy and tired. Drove home, cleaned up my shotgun and took a nice long shower. Of course now the sun comes out and it's perfect outside.

Saw some turkeys, a handful of deer (no bucks) and the 2 pheasants when I got out of my truck. But no luck. Oh well, had a good time out there and will be back at it tomorrow morning until sunset if I can last. If anyone's heading out to 232 let me know.
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