Pheasant hunting is usually a social type of hunting.  Several hunters drive a field with blockers at the end.  Dogs probe every patch of vegetation in search of the gaudy import from the orient.  Late season birds are different.  They require a change of tactics.

Not everyone can find a hunting partner with the same availability of time in busy schedules.  Perhaps they do not know someone who is as die hard in his approach to the sport as to accept the challenge of cold winds and snow. Others may not have a good dog to work the fields.  Some times the dog is ill or tired from the early part of the season.  These are the late season hunters.

A combination of careful selection of habitat and stealth are keys to success for these pheasant hunters.

Sneaking up on birds is a profitable technique.  Cold, they will often sit tight to conserve body-warming calories and allow hunters to get into range before they flush.

Find areas of brush and heavy cover that are next to harvested fields.  You can stalk the birds toward the open areas.  The birds will usually flush rather than take a chance running across bare areas.  Even if they do decide to run, seeing them allows hunters to follow the crafty birds.

Another area to work is the fringe land area along streams.  Cover is usually good and the birds have easy access to water and gravel for grit.  Late in the season, pheasants do not want to move around much as they need to conserve calories for warmth.  In any area where they find all they need to make it through the winter pheasants are reluctant o leave unless disturbed.

A little less productive are fencerows.  These are usually areas of brush and planted trees next to grain fields.  The cover is good and birds have access to any spilled grain in the fields.  Because they are more open, stalking is a bit more difficult.  Nevertheless, they do have open areas where the hunter can see any birds trying to sneak away.

Late season hunters can also work areas with a lot of ground cover.  Slews, cattail swamps and the like are shelters for birds.  Early in the season, everybody hunts these areas but sometimes the birds move back to them for shelter.

This type of hunting is good in public land areas.  The birds are concentrated in the heaviest cover.  Some birds will flush wild, but you will get some shots if you walk slowly.

Find a brushy area and walk about 50 yards straight into it.  Then stop and wait for about two minutes.  Walk directly away to the left and circle around to the other side.  Come back in from there.  This confuses the birds and confines those that would otherwise walk out on the opposite side from where the hunter enters.

Some other good areas to seek late season birds are the lowlands where landowners sometimes pile brush from other locations or where it is too wet to plow and seed.  Often these areas are but a few hundred feet across and located in the middle of a grain field that harvested earlier.  Smaller slews or cattail swamps will also fall into this category.

Because brush provides shelter in otherwise featureless fields, birds will huddle up in any cover they can find.

Dried up or frozen up wetlands often hold water part of the year but become dry land in the fall and winter.  Due to the nature of the vegetative cover, they attract pheasants in search of a home.  Wear waterproof boots as all the water is not always gone or frozen and one can fall through the ice.

Hunting isolated habitat is a bit different from working grain fields.  For the late season hunter it is perfect.  Work in a circle around the outside perimeter of the wetland.  Then repeat the circles in ever decreasing size until reaching the middle.  In this way birds trying to evade the hunter move into the middle until they have no place left to go except to flush.

Late season pheasant hunting can be difficult.  Try some of these techniques.


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  1. Fringe lands along streams and rivers can be excellent places

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