The great outdoors

"Despite the distance, this place was well known by dedicated pheasant hunters. Empty casings and tracks provided evidence that the roosters had been hunted hard on opening weekend."

"Nine o'clock on public land in the Far West - and no one else around. This was shaping up to be a real good day!"

"Consider also the harvest statistics and hunting pressure on public land in the Far West. Most post-season sex-ratio data suggest that the annual rooster crop has been knocked back to ratios of about 25 to 30 roosters per 100 hens. This equates to older and more educated roosters for most of the season, since about 50 percent of the harvest occurs on opening weekend. Further, the number of hunters traipsing through a good patch of uplands on public land can be staggering, perhaps even as high as one hunter per day of the season, considering the multiple passes made on opening weekend. Thus, we are left in many circumstances to rely on the ability of good bird dogs and the element of surprise."

"The single most effective way to hunt pheasants alone is to push them into water. Well-educated roosters will run and run through dry ground, but a shallow wetland edge is a tremendous equalizer. Foremost, it is critical to weave back and forth across the uplands as you angle toward the wetland. Further, I look for heavy cover along the wetland-fringe and try to push birds in that direction. Roosters will wade into water 3 or 4 inches deep, but eventually they will seek little patches of heavy cover and hold until forced to flush."

--Dave Smith

tax dollars hard at work.