I’ll be the first to admit I love hunting over dogs. I have hunted over dogs for almost as long as I can remember.
But, there was a time when I didn’t have a dog, and if you find yourself in that predicament, I’m here to tell you that it’s entirely possible to go pheasant hunting without a dog.
Can you pheasant hunt without a dog
Yes, you can hunt pheasants without a dog. Not only can you hunt pheasants without a dog, but you can hunt a range of upland birds without a dog.
While there is no doubt that a dog will make the hunt a lot easier and a lot more successful, it’s still possible to head upland without one.
Knowing the areas that the roosters inhabit increases your odds dramatically.
If you have a few friends with you, you can block and drive again, increasing your chances of success.
Where to hunt pheasants without a dog
One of the hardest parts of hunting pheasants without a dog is finding roosters. Usually, we go to a general area we think holds pheasants and let the dog do all the heavy lifting.
Unfortunately, without a dog, you can’t afford this luxury. You will need to be a little more clued to where the roosters are holding.
Here are some places to look:
Pheasants love to hang out in weedy or grassy areas where they have an abundance of seeds and plenty of cover.
Most weed fields aren’t large, so it’s a good idea to slowly move through these areas if you are hunting without a dog.
When the weather has turned cold and snow is on the ground is an excellent time for pheasant hunting without a dog.
These conditions allow you to almost pinpoint birds while being able to get right up on them.
When the weather is cold, the birds like to head to southern slopes where they can get some sun.
When there is snow on the ground, they like to feed on berries. They also prefer to hold tight on snow days rather than breaking.
So with the right conditions, you can walk right up on them. Look for berry bushes on southern slopes.
The smaller the area of cover, the less opportunity for a pheasant to run.
Small patches of cover are great for hunting pheasants without a dog because one person should be able to beat it by themselves.
If you are fortunate enough to come across an area like this, walk it in a zig-zag pattern and make frequent pauses.
Sometimes pheasants like to sit tight and let the danger pass them by, especially if that danger is heading in a straight line past them.
By making frequent stops and traveling in a zig-zag pattern, the bird is more likely to flush.
Cattail sloughs between fields
Not many hunters enjoy wading into cattail sloughs to find pheasants, but it’s where they like to hide out if the hunting pressure is high.
Hunting this type of terrain is hard work. The idea is to push the birds to the point where they can’t run any further and have to flush.
Many times I’ve been taking a stroll along a fence line without my dogs only to have a pheasant flush out in front of me.
Some of them are so comfortable in the linear cover they decide to run without flushing.
Pheasants love any type of linear cover, such as fence lines, drains, tree lines, etc. This type of cover allows them to see any oncoming danger yet also be thick enough to offer them protection.
Pay particular attention to gravel roads, especially early in the morning. Pheasants like to fill their craw with grit before feeding.
There are two possible scenarios here, you will either push the bird out the end, which will require a brisk walk to keep up with the rooster, who will race to the end and try flush before you.
The other scenario is the pheasant might flush out the side.
It’s important to remember that dogs do more than just flush birds. One of the most important parts of a dog’s job is to find and retrieved downed birds.
This becomes even more important if the bird was winged.
If you are pheasant hunting without a dog, you need to be extra certain of every shot you take. Are you sure of dropping that bird and finding it by yourself?
If you can’t answer that question with absolute certainty, you have no right to take that shot.
Can you pheasant hunt without a dog? Absolutely
However, it will be nowhere near as successful as pheasant hunting over a well-trained dog.
If your idea of a good hunt is more of a stroll upland with the odd chance of flushing a bird, then you can happily pheasant hunt without a dog.
The objective here is to not let the pheasant get too far ahead of you before flushing.
However, if you are looking to go out and get your limit, then you need to find some well trained dogs to hunt over.