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Jeff
JEFF
IDLEMAN

Cockleburs

What are the Odds?

Wed, December 12, 2012

snow

There are all kinds of approaches to upland hunting.  I started with a double barrel 20 gauge Stevens (that I later discovered shot 3 feet low at 20 yards,) walked more than my share of railroad tracks and often hunted alone.  I just went out there and stumbled around a lot, by myself, no dog.

When you go to the outfitter places in South Dakota, almost all of them are focused on big drive hunting.  Blockers and drivers; dogs are usually just used for retrieving, if at all.  Given the cover they hunt and the need to let the sports shoot as many birds as possible, this makes sense.

In the old days, it was common to see drive hunting for pheasants in Illinois.  I’ve done lots of it before becoming a dog snob.  In controlled hunting areas I still see large groups of hunters, very close together, moving at a snail’s pace, pushing every bit of cover as tightly as they possibly can.  I suspect this works but it’s too boring for me.

Now that I’m a dog snob, I still run into hunters who love to drive with large groups and don’t feel that dogs add anything to the mix.  If birds are there, they’ll flush.  To each his own, just leaves more birds for me and my friends.

Having said that, I know that my snob friends and I often hunt too fast, have poor spacing (based on the width of the cover), dogs aren’t infallible, and we are undoubtedly passing some birds. Blasting whistles and yelling commands don’t help either.

I’ve also seen several dogs that were a pheasant’s best friend.  Flushed everything 150 yards away, couldn’t find a scent if their life depended on it, stayed within 5 feet of their master at all times, disappeared over the horizon, etc.

Having said all this, I did run across some statistical evidence recently that supports my belief that good dogs make a difference.  A friend was part of 3 hunts in the same free upland permit area in the same season.  With dogs, four hunters limited out every time.  In looking at the DNR results for this area for the year (who knows how accurate these numbers are) he discovered only 5 more birds were reported killed for the entire rest of the season from this site. 

I’ve participated in hunts myself at upland permit sites that contributed a big chunk of the reported harvest for the year. Maybe a lot of hunters don’t report their kills or even show up for that matter.  What are your thoughts?  Are dogs really necessary for good results or can other tactics work just as well?

Comments

Yes, driving does work.  Now days, with so few birds, how do you find enough upland hunters to pull off a drive?  I hunted decades without a dog.  Having labs for the past 15+ years, I’d just as soon not hunt as go without a dog.  Even if we don’t see a bird, watching the dog work makes the outing.

Posted by riverrat47 on December 12

lol, this is funny to me sorry not trying to demean anything or not being arrogant fallin on my face too many times for that! What I do know is all the years I hunted without a dog with my choice of gun or perhaps with the money I could spend on a gun and trust me I walked many miles. I even killed my share of birds. Then I purchased a pup. I have had dogs most of my life just not true bird dogs. I spent countless hours with that first bird dog. I didn’t have to teach it how to point that seemed automatic. I didn’t have to teach it to find birds. I did have to train it to obey me. With the hours I spent with the dog and my love for it and it’s love for me to please me hunting was a new experience. I wasn’t walking through all those briars and thorns and everything else that can penetrate the best of pants that I could buy. It spoiled me. I can no longer hunt wihtout man’s best friend. That is my persective….

Posted by enjycreation on December 12

I agree its tougher to go without a dog! In thick cover birds can really hold tight, still remember a hunt without a dog, 3 of us pushed a crp field back n forth a couple times with no birds.  On our way back to truck we stopped for couple minutes to rest, shed layers, grab a drink. After what had to be about 5 min of us standing there talking we had 5 birds get up within 30yds of us, 2 roosters and 3 hens, this was cover we had previously and unsuccessfuly pushed without a flush. Any dog with half a nose would have had trouble missing 5 birds that close together, but they just hunkered down n let us walk right by them the first time and only flushed because we stayed still for so long and so close. Really opened my eyes to working cover much slower and pausing a little longer. Its slow going but results seem better!  Now with a dog they cover about 10 times the ground we do while walking not to mention they can scent the birds and get on them that way. So I will take 3-4 guys and a dog or two, over 10 guys without a dog any day!!
Got a free hunt this sunday, and we will be taking a dog!!  Good luck to everyone out there chasing birds!

Posted by BOWHUNTR on December 13

I remember a hunt about 42 years ago on private ground, which is now Jim Edgar Panther Creek CA(?).  I was blocking and three guys driving thru about 20 rows of standing corn. I stood on the edge of the standing corn watching pheasants run ahead of the drivers, then out into the cut corn and hunker down, then casually walk back into the standing corn, after the drivers had passed.  More than half the birds employed this tactic rather than flush out the end, where I was waiting.
I got my birds but could not convince the guys that there were still tons of birds in that standing corn.  With a decent dog, we could have all gotten our limits out of that little patch of corn.

Posted by riverrat47 on December 13

I hunt JEPC quite a bit and I do do the strip march with the dogs, but after about an hour of that I would much rather let the dogs go where they will and wait for the beep from their collars.  I love it!  They invariably find me leftover, residual birds that other hunters have missed, or would have never found.  I don’t care how far we wander or where.  It’s good for me and the dogs.

Posted by birdchaser on December 14

Riverrat - Totally believe it. Was in South Dakota once, blocking a half mile long field. Drivers were out of sight over a hill and had been let off with fairly good stealth. The minute the drive started, I could see pheasants hauling butt straight down the rows.  When they saw us blockers, they scampered to the sides and out. Enough stuck around to make for good shooting when the drivers got there but the “leakage” was substantial.

Bowhunter - Ha Ha. That happens to us every year, at least once. Even with our supposedly high powered dogs, a pheasant’s willingness to wait things out is amazing.

Posted by springer on December 14

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