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As you no doubt know, pheasant shooting is nothing like playing Duck Hunt.
The birds aren't programmed to use predictable flight patterns, and your canine companion is certainly not going to retrieve the bird with his hand, look up, and smile at you.
This also assuming that you even have a canine companion.
Despite the difficulties of pheasant shooting, however, it is not impossible to get better at it.
Indeed, there are plenty tips and tricks that you can use to your advantage, and we've provided you with 5 of the most essential ones:
Let's be real: You're not going to bag any pheasants if you are escorted from the hunting grounds because you didn't follow the rules.
Of course, these rules differ from state to state. If you happen to be in New York, for example, you definitely aren't bound by the same hunting laws as someone who is in, say, California.
That said, you're going to have to conduct your own research before you can even begin planning your hunting trip.
Luckily for you, hunting rules and regulations are easily accessible to the general public. State Game & Fish departments have websites which clearly define codes of conduct for hunters.
These codes specify which types of weapons hunters may use and during which seasons they may use them. They also inform hunters of which animals they may or may not hunt at certain times of the year.
Oh, and you're definitely going to want to get the appropriate license as well.
While hunting can certainly be a one-man activity, it doesn't have to be. As a matter of fact, some people might even suggest that it shouldn't be.
That is to say, investing in a bird dog (also known as a gun dog) might be in your best interest.
Don't, however, just go off and buy the first large dog you can find; although all dogs apparently go to heaven, they were not all created equal.
You should also be aware of the fact that choosing a bird dog is more complex than it actually looks. There are certain reasons to choose certain bird dogs over others.
Bird dogs generally fall into one of three categories: flushers, pointers, and retrievers.
Flushers excel at finding game and driving them from their hiding places. Hunters can then follow up on the dogs' findings by taking a shot at the birds.
Pointers, like flushers, are good at finding game, though they don't necessarily drive the game from its location. Instead, after locating game, they literally point towards it with their muzzles, which allows the hunters to hone in on their prey.
Unlike flushers and pointers, retrievers aren't amazing at helping locate game, but, as their name suggests, they are excellent at retrieving birds once they have been shot down.
Needless to say, the bird dog you choose will ultimately be determined by your hunting style. If you don't have any intuition about how to find birds, for instance, you probably won't want to go with a retriever.
That said, make sure your bird dog complements your skill set. You'll see a huge difference in your performance when you go out pheasant shooting.
No, not your car driving skills. We're talking about your bird driving skills.
In other words, you need to learn how to get the birds right where you want them in order to get a chance at a good shot.
This skill obviously requires that you have familiarized yourself with pheasants and their habits.
While there are a plethora of tips that we could give to you in this section, our top recommendation is that you walk upwind when trying to drive pheasants. Pheasants like to fly downwind, and they'll likely fly right towards you if you take this approach.
This tip can be implemented almost immediately because it doesn't take much practice.
Generally speaking, pheasants (and many other birds) will be out and about in the morning, usually in search of breakfast.
Since they are wary of predators, as the morning fades and other predators (i.e. hunters and their bird dogs) start to come out, they take cover. As a result, the middle of the day is not ideal for hunting them.
Later in the day, however, after most hunters have made their departures, pheasants typically reappear in order to chow down again.
Despite this advice, though, you should use your own judgment during each hunting session. Many animals' behaviors do, after all, change with the seasons and weather patterns.
So, yes, pheasant shooting is so unlike Duck Hunt; no matter how you look at it, you'll hit one pheasant for every hundred ducks you hit while playing video games in your basement.
Even so, it is so completely rewarding if it is done correctly. That said, why not work at it and become the sharpshooter you've never been?
We can't imagine that you'll regret it.