Most hunting preserves cater to groups and individuals who want a quality hunting experience but do not have access to land or maybe have a physical disability. The hunting season begins early on preserves offering the hunter extended time in the field. The game and dogs can make or break a preserve hunt.
Some hunters may be waterfowlers. They may want to continue a hunt after a morning of hunting or, when ducks and geese are not flying.
Most hunters are people with hunting experience. Clubs usually have a clay target trap set up for shooting practice before taking to the field. It also gives the guide a chance to evaluate the skill level of the hunter and their safe handling of firearms.
Some hunters want to bring their own dogs. Clubs often encouraged hunters wanting to get some field experience for their canines. If the client wants to try hunting over other dogs or does not have his own, then the preserve usually has numerous dogs available.
Pointers, retrievers, setters and Brittany’s are popular dogs for the upland field hunting usually found in the preserve situation. Labrador Retrievers are popular in a pheasant hunting situation in that they are good under voice control.
A lot of dogs will point a pheasant and when it takes off they will chase the bird. They just do not know how to handle such a big bird. It is preferred that the dog pull out and go to the end of the field, then come back to cut off the bird. Finding such a dog can be difficult. A good pheasant dog should cover the field quickly and be able to stay put when the bird flushes. Some dogs point a quail but will not be bothered with a pheasant.
A good dog ranges 50 to 100 yards out from the hunters. On a preserve you do not need a field trial dog. Field Trial dogs range further out from the hunter or handler. Dog handlers train them to do just that. On a preserve the closer ranging dog is better for the physically challenged person who rides a 4-wheeler or hunters who ride a horse while hunting. The horse hunting is a carry over from the old southern plantation style of quail hunting.
The dog points the bird and the hunter dismounts, loads his gun and walks to the location before flushing the bird. Another variation is that the hunters ride in a horse drawn wagon until the dog finds the bird. Then the hunter gets down from the wagon, loads up and walks in to meet the dog and handler. The approach causes the bird to flush.
It is generally impossible to break a dog of hunting any further than he desires. You can break a dog from hunting too wide or make him come back. It takes a lot of training work, patience and is better to leave that to the experts. The hunting preserve then provides an opportunity to keep the dog in practice.
Sporting clays practice before coming to a preserve to hunt is a good idea. It offers the hunter a chance to practice shooting clay targets under simulated hunting conditions. It also helps the hunter to become more comfortable and familiar with the particular gun he is planning to use in the field.
Most hunters of upland game use 20 or 12 gauge shotguns. Some shooters like the 28 gauge on preserves. For pheasants, the recommendation is a number 6 shot size. For Quail and Chukar usually hunters prefer a 7 ½ or number 8 shot.
For the physically challenged hunter some preserves offer 4-wheelers or truck transportation to get into position. They are the only hunters allowed to hunt from a vehicle in this Illinois.
In other states it might be best to have the less physically fit person be a blocker at the end of the field to flush running birds into the air.
Many physically challenged hunters have a vehicle of their own. Regardless, preserves often have certain fields set aside for such hunters. They can drive them on roadways and move through the field on vehicles with no problems.
Physically challenged hunters can be either a driver or a blocker depending upon their desires. The hunter just follows the handler and the dogs lead.
Many clubs also have at least one father/son or mother/daughter hunt each year. These are a great bonding experience.
A preserve hunt might make a great birthday or holiday present.