Humans have found an excellent way to include dogs on hunting trips as their shooting companions for more than 12,000 years. This companionship undoubtedly makes pheasant retrieving ten times more convenient and manageable.
However, not every hunter, especially budding ones, wishes to invest their time, knowledge, resources, and budget to train a hunting dog.
This omission of a dog can make many pheasant hunters nervous. But, given our expertise, we can vouch that individuals can successfully hunt without a dog.
However, before starting, we would like to add one caveat regarding the ease of the hunt. Always remember that pheasant hunting can be particularly challenging without a retrieving dog.
So, hunters must put their best foot forward and be prepared to put in some legwork. With that out, we would like to shed light on our 12 tried and tested hunting tips.
Tips for Solo-Hunting
Solo-hunting without a dog can be challenging for hunters. However, with our detailed tips, any shooter can hunt pheasants without a canine.
#1 Scouting Matters
Scouting is the foundation of your hunting trip. Irresponsible and careless scouting forces hunters to go home with an empty trunk. So, before heading to the hunting field, consider studying the entire location as thoroughly as possible.
A memory map can help you during those unwanted low battery notifications. Do not forget to take notes of all the obvious hot points where the peasants might be meandering.
If you decide to hunt on an expansive open land, it will become almost difficult to spot and retrieve a pheasant. Thus, we highly recommend scouting narrow parcels, grassy waterways in harvested fields, dense vegetation, cattail islands, etc. c
Weed fields or CRP fields bordering corn fields can be an excellent start. Look for tracks near mud or water at low spots.
Similarly, consider working on the sunny side of the hills or under various dense bushes if it is a cold season. If you discover their grassy bedding patches, find a blind spot and hide there. Typically hunters should be able to pick off a few pheasants before it gets dark.
Another great tip is to be as quiet and stealthy as possible on your hunting day. While pheasants may not be easily alarmed by a cup of coffee like deer, they can trace humans and their noise.
Even the slightest noise is enough for them to run away without even giving them the chance to aim the scope. To refrain the birds from making these flight responses, be as quiet as you humanly can and approach slowly.
#2 Gear For The Win
Pheasant hunting without a dog is challenging, and you don’t want to risk mishaps by forgetting any essential hunting gear. We always suggest overpacking than underpacking during such expeditions as you can never envision how things might flesh out while hunting.
Use as much tech as you can and utilize it to your advantage.
The market is flooded with hunting apps that can detect and determine the location of a specific animal/bird at any given time. These gadgets like GPS and maps will guide you while providing ample information about the pheasants without breaking a sweat.
Other must-have devices include blinds, rangefinders, binoculars, ammunition, camouflage outfits, decoys, and stools.
Pheasant hunting without a canine can be extremely time-consuming, so be mentally prepared to spend the rest of your day in the hunting location. Some of your gear must be electric-based so ensure that the instrument is fully charged before entering the field.
An extra power bank or a spare battery ( for battery-based equipment) can come in handy. If you are in a hurry or wish to speed up the process, try to study their bedding time and hunt during those hours.
Like every bird and animal in the field, pheasants have an incredibly astute sense of smell. So, consider skipping on strong, musky perfumes that birds can sniff from miles apart.
In the excitement of hunting, hunters usually forget to take care of their skin. Since you will be on the field, under the scorching sun throughout the day, apply sunblock to keep your skin safe from UV poisoning.
Additionally, a hat can always be your best friend during winds, rains, and extreme sunny weather.
Lastly, don’t forget to inform one person about your hunting location before leaving. This step is necessary in case your vehicle breaks down, or the battery dies in the middle of the forest. We also compulsorily suggest investing in an SOS tool and a first aid kit.
#3 Motion Manipulation
Game birds like turkey, pheasant, etc., are incredibly skittish as they live their lives running away from hawks, foxes, coyotes, and other such predators. Thus, hunters must be cautious with their moves and try to avoid their attention as much as possible.
Every pheasant hunter without a retrieving dog should consider moving from one location to another using a zig-zag motion. This motion can be a highly advantageous move, especially if you are hunting in a vast field.
A zig-zag pattern allows hunters to cover an incredible amount of ground in a short span while increasing their view perspective.
Take a quick halt every 25 yards and wait for a few seconds, shuffle your feet, and wait for another few seconds. This technique will help you locate a hidden and nervous pheasant who might be trying to escape.
Pheasants are more likely to flush during that time, giving the hunters an even more incredible view to shoot. Another way is to walk close to one, make it feel threatened, and then try to shoot as soon as possible.
#4 Weather And Circling Back
Any seasoned hunter will suggest you go on a pheasant hunting expedition before and after a storm. During these time slots, the birds usually head for their nests or come out of the nest to feed themselves.
Try to get a good glimpse when they’re in motion and shoot by paying attention to the distance.
Another fresh tip is to revisit an already hunted spot. This move is an excellent second chance if you couldn’t find any peasants during the first half of your hunt.
Pheasants and other birds try to get to the safest space they can find, so hiding where the hunter has previously roamed seems like the safest and most secure option for the pheasants. Going again to the first spot might surely catch them off guard.
If you share your location with other hunters, consider paying attention to their movements. Using them as an indicator can work in your favor if you catch a bouquet of pheasants in the same spot.
Another shooter’s shot can create chaos, causing them to run and fly, which can be instrumental in bagging a pheasant.
Hunters should try visiting game reserves and preserves with pen-reared birds since they lack extra survival instinct compared to wild pheasants.
On the other hand, wild pheasants can be particularly hard to hunt, especially if you are solo hunting and lacking a canine’s help.
#5 Shooting And Flushing
Always follow the trail to catch your fallen bird. It is common to hit a bird and injure it instead of killing it. Such shots can be risky as the pheasant still has enough energy to fly or run a few meters.
You will not believe their ability to hide in the CRP fields. So to catch that almost invisibly injured bird, keep an eye on the target without missing a beat.
Start by searching under your feet and the surrounding area for long tails or tiny feathers. Searching in small circles will save you time while ensuring that the site is free from a crippled bird.
If you notice the bird running helter-skelter, attack the bird again at full throttle until it falls in one place. If you can see an opportunity to shoot the crippled bird, aim and shoot your second shot.
This tip will surely save you hours of aimless searching in the vast fields. This shot can work as a deadly last force to get you the bird.
Similarly, use your energy wisely when you are on a pheasant hunt without a dog. One smart way is to tease these birds by shaking bushes or throwing stones; these subtle movements are excellent for flushing the pheasants out of their hiding.
#6 Being Quick
Shooters hunting without a canine should always be ready to shoot. Usually, dogs give a sly heads up when a pheasant erupts into the air. But hunters without dogs must be exceptionally concentrated, quick, and ready to shoot.
Keeping your gun ‘shot-ready’ can be a good technique while hunting wild pheasants. Similarly, please don’t take the safety off until you have property determined the target and what lies beyond it.
Such hunting shoots require the hunter to be very careful and concentrated. However, most hunters forget the ‘be the dog’ aspect.
As you are on your own, the job of getting into the tangles of alders or shelterbelts falls on you. Individuals must also focus on the typical escape routes these pheasants use.
#7 Learning The Regulations
We highly recommend studying, learning, and keeping track of local hunting regulations before initiating your scouting process. You can rely on regulation books that often feature public-land release locations for pheasants.
Some Western states are famous for holding pheasant hunts wherein shooters can harvest birds on the public land by paying a meager amount of $10-15 per bird.
Keep yourself updated with all young and junior hunt restrictions when a young hunter is tagging along with you.
Another critical element is the tag and recording requirements. It differs in all states, so pay close attention to the jurisdiction and its regulations.
For instance, hunters in Oregon can be charged a hefty fine if caught bagging a pheasant without recording it on their tag. Lastly, study the firearm, load restrictions, or hunter education requirements according to your state.
Tips for Group-Hunting
A group hunting trip without a dog may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. If a canine isn’t a part of your group hunting expedition, pay attention to the below-mentioned group hunting tips.
#8 Expertise is Important
Ensure to club together people who know the sport too well. Going on a hunting trip with someone unaware of the essential hunting knowledge can make your trip more challenging than ever.
Especially with the dog out of the picture, you need a strong team that is up-to-date with all the risks and tips necessary to hunt a pheasant.
If you have ample time before your hunting excursion, consider teaching the novice hunters all the essential pointers and clues. Bundle up your entire crew of friends who enjoy pheasant hunting and go on a shooting spree.
A considerable number of people surely helps speed up the hunt while ultimately increasing the success rate.
#9 Delegating The Duties
Pheasant hunting in teams can be equally fun and fruitful if everyone knows their job. One individual should always lead a group to avoid the commotion. Moreover, it is wise to delegate all the duties to the entire group before the shoot.
That gives each person a clear idea about their tasks during the hunt, resulting in a successful hunting expedition without the dog. Remember, the more people you gather, the more eyes and ears who will have to shoot, track, and catch these pheasants.
Furthermore, having clear-cut communication is essential for safety reasons. As dogs help flush out these birds, hunters are usually pretty relaxed. But in the absence of a dog, everyone must concentrate and be ready to retrieve the bird.
This step can generally cause miscommunication and chaos that can startle all the nearby pheasants. Additionally, a communication breakdown can confuse the shooter and the pusher, resulting in unsuccessful shots.
Thus, consider a foolproof communication system to avoid unsuccessful attempts or mishaps in the fields.
#10 Hunting Quietly And Sign Cues
Hunting when you have your friends beside you can be a tricky thing. Naturally, you will be tempted to share interesting, astute observations or anecdotes.
However, avoiding this should be mandatory as pheasants have an excellent hearing. Even muffled laughs and conversations can reach their ears in no time.
Moreover, a dog knows when to flush and retrieve even when hunting in huge groups. But since the dog’s absence, hunters will have to communicate with their team members to keep the group updated.
Sign cues can be an excellent way to convey the process in real-time without disturbing the peace.
#11 Plan Formulation And Motion
When hunting without a dog, hunters should formulate a sturdy plan before the hunt. The main goal is to stay in unison after arriving at the hunting ground. Preparing a plan beforehand is the only way to succeed without much commotion.
The outline of the hunting time, spread, techniques, and retrieving agencies will help bag multiple pheasants without training any dog.
Your hunting cavalry should be dressed appropriately in camouflage to blend in with the terrain. Pushers and shooters must wear reflective jackets to protect themselves from the incoming bullets charged at the pheasants.
In addition, the hunting expedition should be backed up by statistical data, including weather conditions, wind direction, seasons, and bird migration patterns. Everyone must know these critical points before they position themselves on the ground.
Lastly, consider hunting in a sweeping motion. If you have a cavalry of four or more hunters, consider spreading across in four directions and slowly moving towards the center. Soon after the assembly at the center, each can again move outward to their dedicated position.
This tactic works flawlessly to catch the first time escaped birds. We highly suggest relying on such strategies, especially when you have no dog at your rescue.
#12 Wind And Early Spots
Since birds have extraordinary hearing, your team’s primary goal is to minimize that auditory advantage by hunting towards the wind. When hunters hunt into the wind, the pheasants are less aware of their presence, and the breeze carries the sounds away from a hunter’s quarry.
Try to get a spot very early in the morning, then listen for the roosters in the area to cackle. You can then pinpoint the location where they were and perform this same technique at the end of the day.
Individuals might often miss the opportunity to hunt a good pheasant because of a great spot in the spread. Thus, moving in early can help you find the best site for the entire day.
Any hunter who has performed pheasant hunting knows that hunting birds without a dog is an equally challenging and fulfilling experience. Whether you go solo or with your hunting mates, an adequately sketched plan will only help you improve your chances of success.
These twelve tips will significantly help novice and seasoned hunters bag multiple pheasants without worrying about dogs.
We want to conclude by saying it is possible to hunt without a canine; all you need is a proper plan, good eyesight to catch the fallen bird, and energy to retrieve it.