Strategic Pheasant Hunting
To the naked eye pheasant hunting looks really simple; grab your gun, dog, hunter orange clad clothing and hit the fields roaming in whatever direction you chose. However savvy pheasant hunting veterans know that much more can and should go into planning a pheasant drive…especially if you are limited to hunt by yourself or another person.
What we are trying to get across in this article is that there are several land and/or crop features present on any given piece of property. When hunted by a large group of hunters these land features are not so difficult to perform a pheasant drive. However, if it is just you and a buddy you will have to get strategic in your hunting efforts to maximize your success. Take a look on the next two pages to see how to conduct a two man pheasant drive on a farmstead that has several different scenarios and apply them to your next pheasant hunting excursion you and your hunting partner go on.
Standing corn is a given in Iowa when it comes to pheasant hunting. Standing corn is a nightmare to hunt from, but you know the birds will be in the field. You and your buddy start in a corner of the field spaced 20 yards apart. The outside hunter should be about 5-6 rows deep in order to get a shot at a pheasant fleeing out the sides. Start by walking the outer rows in a circular fashion and continue inward until you have combed the entire field from outside in. If you have a dog with you obedience is paramount! Always make sure you have a visual on your dog at all times in standing corn or you risk scattering the birds and even worse losing your dog.
Milo Food Plot
This is a classic pusher and blocker scenario. Position the blocker at the end of the drive in the middle of the plot. Then the pusher can commence by zig-zagging the food plot in order to cover as much ground as possible with one person. Make sure and stop from time to time, doing so will make the birds edgy and hopefully take flight.
Wind blocks are a great place for birds to take cover. In Iowa these areas are great during the cold winter months, the only problem is birds are easily spooked this time of year, many times resulting in birds flushing well out of gun range. To battle this have one hunter be a push/blocker; swing him out wide of the cover 60-70 yards ahead of the pusher. Make sure he is on the side that promotes the likeliest direction the birds will fly. When the pusher begins the drive have the push/blocker walk along with him while keeping that 60-70 yard distance. This will help to get a shot at those spooky late season birds. Be mindful of your shooting lanes!
Big Prairie/CRP Field
Large prairies covered by CRP grass seem to be a thing of the past, but at one time they were the cream of the crop when pheasant hunting. Nonetheless big CRP fields are still scattered throughout Iowa and can be a bit of a challenge with just two hunters. The best course of action is to forgo the back and forth route, instead create a route similar to that of the corn field push. Both hunters start in a corner of the field space 20 yards apart and walk the outer edges. Continue circling inward until you reach the middle of the field. This will hopefully push birds to the center of the field and prevent them busting out the sides.
Iowa’s landscape is dotted with fingers, draws, and dredge ditches. These can be some of the best places to get your limit nowadays as they tend to surround and dissect cropland giving birds both food and cover in one area. This scenario is pretty simple and similar to the wind block drive. Have one hunter again be a push/blocker and position him on one side of the finger about 60-70 yards ahead of the main pusher on the other side. When the hunt starts make sure both of you keep the distance between you. This will allow a shot at birds that bust early and would normally be out of gun range.