Tips From Mike “Cold Front” Kurre 11 Oct 12

Each Thurday we talk to Mike “Cold Front” Kurre during News at Noon on KCHK/KRDS. This week we talked pheasant hunting. Here’s a  list of tips for the season opener from Mike “Cold Front” Kurre.

  • Pheasant Opener on Sat across the state with the Governor in Marshall this year.
    • Pheasants may seem elusive and mysterious to some hunters, but they are creatures of habit and follow a regular routine. Understanding how their daily patterns work will dramatically increase odds of flushing roosters this fall.
    • Just after sunrise, pheasants leave their roosting cover. This is the short to medium grass where they have spent the night. As they move from roosting cover, hunters will see pheasants on roadsides, picking gravel or grit, before they move into crop fields to start feeding. When season opens at 9 a.m., the birds have just about finished breakfast and might be seen working their way through the grassy fringes of fields looking for a safe place to spend the day.
    • By mid-to-late morning, pheasants have settled into thick, dense cover such as standing corn, brush patches, native grass or wetlands. This is known as loafing cover. Strong winds, precipitation, cold weather or heavy hunting pressure will drive the birds into thicker loafing cover.
    • Pheasants are hungry again by late afternoon and will move from loafing areas back into crop fields. They will feed until just before sunset, when they head back to roosting cover for the night.

Hunting tips:

    • Be ready to hunt at 9 a.m. and take advantage of pheasants on the move. Hunt line fences, the edges of picked cornfields, field access roads and other edge cover.
    • The last hour of the day is known to hunters as the “golden hour.” This is when pheasants are moving from crop fields into roosting cover and can make for great hunting. Don’t miss it.
    • Be quiet! Talk softly and don’t slam doors. Pheasants rely heavily on hearing to detect danger and may split before you see them. They get jumpier as the season progresses.
    • Hunt slowly and work in a zigzag pattern. Many hunters speed right past wiley roosters. Stopping occasionally will make even the smartest rooster nervous and force a flush.
    • Hunt the backsides of properties, away from roadways. Hunt habitat across creeks and drainage ditches. Many hunters won’t make the effort to reach these challenging areas that will often produce pheasants.
    • Remember that pheasants are edge birds. Look for places where one type of habitat transitions into another: crops, grass, brush, cattails, ditches and fence lines.
    • Only hunt row crops if you have posters or standers at the end. Without them, pheasants will run down the rows and flush early. Always know where other hunters are located.
    • Don’t hunt standing corn on windy days. The rustling leaves will keep you from hearing the birds flush and it will be more difficult to keep track of dogs or other hunters.
    • Look for grassy patches in picked corn fields. These can be real “honey holes” for pheasants.
    • Hunt the weeks after Thanksgiving. You will have very little competition from other hunters and birds will be more congregated than early in the season. Look for some great hunting.
    • If you shoot a pheasant, immediately mark where it landed and move to that spot. Grass and brush can make downed birds difficult to find.
    • Most of all, be aware of dogs and other hunters, be safe and follow hunting regulations.
    • Pheasant hunting doesn’t require a lot of specialized or expensive equipment, but there are some basic items that will make your time in the field more enjoyable and productive.
  • License/Hunting Regulations Handbook. The trail to good hunting starts with a license. You can get you’re your small game license, pheasant stamp and hunting regulation handbook at any DNR license vendor or online. License and stamp requirement information is on page 30 of the 2012 hunting regulations booklet.
  • Maps. Scouting an area will increase your odds of finding pheasants and good maps will help your efforts. Go to DNR website for free maps that identify wildlife management areas and Walk-In Access areas. Combined, these programs provide 1.3 million acres of public hunting on 1,550 parcels. A local plat book may also come in handy to identify specific pieces of land.
  • Shotgun and shells. Bring along a shotgun that you have practiced with and are comfortable shooting. The style or gauge of the shotgun is not nearly as important as your proficiency with it. Since pheasants are fairly tough birds, you will want to choose a heavier load such as 4 or 5 shot and limit your shooting distances to 50 yards or less. This will result in fewer wounded birds. Also be aware that if you are hunting federal land, nontoxic shot is required.
  • Blaze orange. Minnesota pheasant hunters are required to wear at least one visible article of clothing above the waist that is blaze orange. This could be a hat, jacket or hunting vest. Remember that more blaze orange will make you more visible to other hunters.
  • Good footwear. Pheasant hunting involves a lot of walking on uneven terrain. Good quality, above-the-ankle shoes or boots provide the comfort and support needed for a day in the field. Since crossing creeks and marshy areas is common, waterproof boots are preferred by many.
  • Layered clothing. Cool fall mornings often turn into sunny, warm afternoons. Layered clothing will prepare you for a variety of weather conditions. Long sleeves and light gloves will help keep you from getting scratched up when moving through tall grass, cattails or woody cover. Hunting chaps or brush pants will protect legs and keep you dry on mornings when the grass is wet.
  • Eye and ear protection. Anytime you use a firearm, you should protect your eyes and ears. A pair of sunglasses and foam ear plugs will provide basic protection. More expensive options included coated, colored, high impact lenses and digital hearing aids that enhance some sounds while protecting from loud noises.
  • A good dog. While a dog is not required to hunt pheasants, a good hunting dog will increase the number of opportunities you have to harvest birds and provide you with a companion in the field. A hunting dog is a year-round commitment. Be sure you are willing to invest significant time and energy before purchasing a dog.
  • Refreshments. After a few hours in the field, you will need to refuel. Don’t forget water and snacks to keep you going through the day. Water your dog often and consider canine energy bars that are on the market.

Have fun, be safe and good luck hunting!