Best wild bird hunting

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Best wild bird hunting

Postby Beech » Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:52 pm

Just curious, what do folks say is the best bird hunting in the continental US in regards to abundant shooting opportunity and of course the most fun for the dog too.
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Re: Best wild bird hunting

Postby blue04 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:59 pm

This is such an open-ended question, it's hard to know where to start. I think the answer is going to depend on the type of hunting/shooting terrain a person prefers.

Grouse/Woodcock Hunting - Lots of walking through VERY thick cover, and often through swamps and bogs. Lot's of flushes won't produce shootable birds, and the shooting is generally through tight openings.
Quail Hunting - Can also be thick cover, but generally more briars and brambles than trees. The obstacles to a clear shot are typically less than in Grouse terrain, but that doesn't make them easier to find or hit.
Pheasant/Huns/Prairie Chickens/Etc./Etc. - This is usually open prairie hunting with big ground to cover and wide open scenery. Long walks can be the norm, but the terrain is manageable.
Chukkar - Usually very steep rocky terrain. Generally not as much in the way of shooting obstacles, but getting to the birds requires a lot of effort.
Ducks/Geese - Varies a lot and can be feast or famine from week to week (depending on the weather). Not much walking, but lots of gear to haul and usually done in freezing temps.

Personally, I don't think you can beat South Dakota. The birds are plentiful and the terrain is not very steep. The cover can be thick, but it's pleasant compared to most places I've hunted Grouse and Quail. If you keep to the south-eastern part of the state, you usually don't have to worry about porcupines, which is a bonus.
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Re: Best wild bird hunting

Postby oldtimer » Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:12 pm

Right now this minute it is KS and NE. Lots of quail and phez. McCook, NE is a great place.

Waterfowl is ND hands down.
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Re: Best wild bird hunting

Postby AverageGuy » Sat Jan 28, 2017 9:45 am

One certainty I think, is it is going to be West of the Mississippi if Upland Birds is the quarry.

I think big numbers of wild Bobwhite quail are hard to beat for Dog Work, Sporting Shooting and great eating.

Early season Sharptails are fun because the walking, while long distances, is the easiest upland bird hunting I have encountered for terrain and the dogs are free to search as far as they might want to go, which I find relaxing and enjoyable to watch.

I love the Roosters in CRP or Cattails. The hyper drive dog work on running birds, the sudden intensity of a Rooster pinned down if only briefly as you hustle up to the dog, and the burst of color in the dull dead of winter cover never gets old. And the heroic tracking jobs on wounded birds that get retold many times over the years ...

Early season Doves being the first season to open are always great action for both the shooter and the dog, but do not compare with other birds for pointing dog work.

The great days of water fowling are addictive. Picking out the beautiful drakes as they cup into the decoy spread. Honkers locking up way out and gliding all the way into the spread. Giving some of them away on the drive home so you don't have to eat them all :). The expense and the work can be daunting depending on where you live.

Those would be some of my observations of birds my dogs and I have hunted for a long while. The various threads posted on this and other forums are testament that this past season had excellent birds numbers all across the MW, SW and Western States to a large degree. It is access to land that determines a great deal of one's success in hunting these days. Which then points to some states over others.
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Re: Best wild bird hunting

Postby orhunter » Sat Jan 28, 2017 10:15 am

Chukars and Huns because you get to mix hunting with gorgeous country. They are spooky birds so dogs get a real training experience in how to handle them. They are the best birds for a young dog.
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Re: Best wild bird hunting

Postby Chadwick » Sat Jan 28, 2017 10:29 am

I mainly hunt phez and sharpies. I try to keep an eye on the weather, read the game reports, and go to where it looks like there was good production. Things can change a lot year to year.
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Re: Best wild bird hunting

Postby Doc E » Sat Jan 28, 2017 11:09 am

The answer totally depends on what species of bird you are talking about.

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Re: Best wild bird hunting

Postby Beech » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:19 pm

Just the ones with feathers.
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Re: Best wild bird hunting

Postby Dakotazeb » Sat Jan 28, 2017 7:26 pm

Beech wrote:Just curious, what do folks say is the best bird hunting in the continental US in regards to abundant shooting opportunity and of course the most fun for the dog too.


Please define "bird hunting". As others have said it depends mainly on the species you want to hunt. If you are after pheasants, South Dakota has to be king. But if you are seeking variety then Montana would be hard to beat. Chukars and Huns you need to head further west.
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Re: Best wild bird hunting

Postby Doc E » Sat Jan 28, 2017 8:06 pm

Beech wrote:Just the ones with feathers.

I can't be anymore helpful than you are. :?

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Re: Best wild bird hunting

Postby Willie T » Sun Jan 29, 2017 11:19 am

For me the best is the blue quail. Their penchant to run requires excellent dog work. A 30-40 bird covey running in all directions out from under a point, can at times flummox the best of dogs. Their unpredictability and elusiveness demands a high degree of focus from man and dog. The flush is explosive and unpredictable. There is the short bird, that takes the covey with it. The mass covey flush in all directions, that is momentary pandemonium. The delayed flush, that catches you by surprise. The trickle flush, that just keeps getting up in front of your empty shotgun. There may also be the long bird that remains after the covey departs. Blues prefer arid, more open, often inhospitable habitat, are spooky, and would rather run tha fly, leading to longer flushes and sometimes difficult shooting. The dogs may have to track long distances before pinning a running covey, all the while keeping their focus while they deal with cactus, thorns, and burrs. Then the covey may flush before you can close within 60 yards. With all that said, it can seem like an excercise in futility, but...... there is a 15 bird limit, and if man and dog are both on their game, it can, at times, be epic.

As far as what I think my dogs have liked best, I would put pheasant clearly at the top.

For waterfowl, hunting stubble fields in the prairie pot hole region, during the peak of the migration, to me, is the pinnacle.

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Re: Best wild bird hunting

Postby Doc E » Sun Jan 29, 2017 11:24 am

Willie T wrote:As far as what I think my dogs have liked best, I would put pheasant clearly at the top.

Willie


For my dogs, it would be big Canada Geese, with Grouse being second place.

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Re: Best wild bird hunting

Postby ForestDump » Sun Jan 29, 2017 6:45 pm

Shooting opportunity and fun = doves hands down.
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Re: Best wild bird hunting

Postby JASmith » Sun Jan 29, 2017 8:54 pm

Willie T wrote:For me the best is the blue quail. Their penchant to run requires excellent dog work. A 30-40 bird covey running in all directions out from under a point, can at times flummox the best of dogs. Their unpredictability and elusiveness demands a high degree of focus from man and dog. The flush is explosive and unpredictable. There is the short bird, that takes the covey with it. The mass covey flush in all directions, that is momentary pandemonium. The delayed flush, that catches you by surprise. The trickle flush, that just keeps getting up in front of your empty shotgun. There may also be the long bird that remains after the covey departs. Blues prefer arid, more open, often inhospitable habitat, are spooky, and would rather run tha fly, leading to longer flushes and sometimes difficult shooting. The dogs may have to track long distances before pinning a running covey, all the while keeping their focus while they deal with cactus, thorns, and burrs. Then the covey may flush before you can close within 60 yards. With all that said, it can seem like an excercise in futility, but...... there is a 15 bird limit, and if man and dog are both on their game, it can, at times, be epic.

As far as what I think my dogs have liked best, I would put pheasant clearly at the top.

For waterfowl, hunting stubble fields in the prairie pot hole region, during the peak of the migration, to me, is the pinnacle.

Willie


That sounds like a blast. I'll put that on my to-do list.
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Re: Best wild bird hunting

Postby Beech » Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:44 am

Living in Wisconsin I am fortunate enough to hunt grouse 30 days a year and having work and family keeps me from any out of state travel. But I always say that "some day" I will be able to do more traveling westward. All this talk about chukars and quail is giving me an itch, something to look forward to. Grouse here are a lot of fun but hunting them in deep snow as I have for the past month is hard work. The grouse are also more difficult to find here in January and late December, just ask my dog. Though the dog will probably blame me claiming that I tire out too easily with the deep snow. Anyway, I appreciate the ideas and something to look forward to - someday, always someday. 8)
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