Five Pheasant Hunting Tips For Beginners

Pheasant hunting is a great way to get introduced to upland bird hunting for beginners. You don’t need a lot of equipment and although the finer points may take years to learn, it doesn’t take much to grasp a basic understanding of how to hunt pheasants.Pheasant hunting with friends and family If you’re thinking about getting started in Pheasant Hunting or just need a refresher, read on. These five pheasant hunting tips for beginners will get you started in the right direction.

Keep It Down

Deer hunters are meticulous about closing doors quietly. The slam of a truck door will alert pheasants in the same way it would a whitetail. Pheasants actually have pretty good hearing and birds that are hunted hard will hunker down or head for thicker cover when they feel threatened. You can get away with talking softly but close doors quietly and use hand signals as much as possible.

Take Your Time

A lot of old roosters earn their years thanks to the impatience of hunters. Hunters often move through cover too fast.  Pheasants simply circle behind them and into safety. Work through cover in a zigzag fashion. Another good way to get roosters to flush is to pause frequently.  A brief stop is just enough to get a bird holding tight to lose confidence and take to the skies.

Bird hunting dogs posing for the camera. Hunt the Edges

Pheasants move through various types of habitats throughout the day. This movement leaves them holding to edges frequently. A lot of hunters target big chunks of habitat, but it is important to check out places like fence lines and ditches. Anywhere one type of pheasant habitat transitions to another can offer excellent hunting.

Sleep In

The early bird gets the worm, right? Well, the early bird gets hungry later in the day too. Many pheasant hunters have their feet by the fire by late afternoon, but they could be missing the best hunting of the day. Pheasants start moving out of heavy cover and into more open roost sites during the last hour of daylight. Grassy patches along corn fields are classic cover spots for evening ringnecks.wild pheasant on top of hay bale in Western Illinois

Set Your Calendar Back

The same hunters that are sitting fireside for happy hour usually put their shotguns away before the snow flies too. Late season pheasant hunting can be very good and hunters willing to brave the elements are often rewarded with heavy game vests. Cattail marshes are my favorite cover for late season pheasant hunting. They don’t get any pressure early in the year when water is present. However, once the ice is thick enough to walk on, you can move through cattails easier, and the birds gravitate to them.

One of the great things about pheasant hunting is the social aspect. Hunting pheasants is tough to do by yourself so most experienced hunters are more than happy to have someone join in on the fun, even if they are new to the game. State wildlife agencies often bolster wild pheasant populations with farm raised birds. But if you’re looking for a higher quality experience, book a hunt with a guide or Pheasant Hunting Lodge.

Harpole’s Heartland Lodge is the only Orvis and Shooting Sportsman Endorsed Lodge in Illinois and is one of the top Pheasant and Quail Hunting lodges in the country! Fast flying birds, 5-star luxurious accommodations, professional guides, and great dog work can all be found at Heartland Lodge!

Last Updated: October 20th, 2023

9 thoughts on “Five Pheasant Hunting Tips For Beginners

  1. My dad suggested that we start going pheasant hunting for family trips since we all love hunting. I like how you give the tip for beginners to take your time. Patience is a very important aspect of hunting in general, and it’s good to know that this applies to pheasant hunting as well. Thanks for sharing these awesome tips!

  2. Nice tips. I do have a question, though. We have many discussions about how best to hunt a field. You has mentioned zig zagging. Would you start by walking down the rows or stepping over the rod? This might help solve some of our long dis issuing if you could give us your advise. Thanks.

    1. Sandy, thanks for a great question! It is one I think about everytime I arrive at the field. The first thing I take into account is the weather, and more specifically, the wind. I always try to give the dogs the best chance as possible to work into the wind. That’s easy if you have a long narrow strip of CRP, water ways, and field edges. But what about big square fields? I attack those by hunting the outside edges first and keep working my way around as many times as needed to “squeeze” the birds to the middle of the field. When everything works out it can look like an explosive went off when the birds figure out they are trapped. The more people in the hunting group the better. When hunting standing crops it is always good to have blockers on the end of the field and as many friends as possible to push bird at them. There is not a perfect plan but those tactics have work very well for us over the years. Be sure to enjoy the hunt and figuring out what works best for you and your hunting group. When you figure that out it can be one of the most rewarding parts of the hunt. These wild birds have survived so long by being extremely smart and hard to kill. Good luck! -Clint LaFary

  3. Hello … I have to say that all of your tips are proved gold! My favorite is pausing occasionally to make the birds nervous (thinking they’ve been found out). We have jumped a lot of roosters using that tactic here in northern Indiana! The one tip that We haven’t tried is working the birds to the center of a large field, we always try to work them to one edge of the field? Can’t wait to give it a try! My one question is weather all of your birds are wild? Thanks in advance.

  4. Heading to SD from Louisiana soon, thank you for the tips. I’ve been hunting my entire life but this will be my first pheasant hunt. How do the birds fly compared to say….doves? Are the fast and erratic? Slow and cumbersome? Or a mix?
    Grogan M.

  5. Beginner pheasant hunter here! Great advice but I have a comment about the Keep it Quiet tip. I live in NJ and we have a lot of city folks that come out hunting with the dogs and everytime I am out there all I hear in addition to gunshots are guys yelling out loud at their dogs that are running crazy and bells on the dogs making a bunch of noise. Maybe I am just hunting in too over crowded of a place which is typical for anything you do in NJ

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