First upland road trip?

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First upland road trip?

Postby nick271717 » Fri Nov 26, 2021 10:39 am

Hello, I have been hunting with my lab the past few years in the north east where I live for ruffed grouse and stocked pheasants. I would like to plan a hunt to a Midwest/western state next year to hunt some wild birds. I am not really set on a species or destination and would like some Input on what state and species I should try for a first trip to be somewhat successful. I am not expecting to get a limit everyday but would like to see birds. I have been reading a lot about sharptail hunting in SD and MT and that seems like it may be a good option early season. Let me know what you guys think, thank you!
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Re: First upland road trip?

Postby orhunter » Fri Nov 26, 2021 11:19 am

It's a good idea to watch the weather and check bird forecasts of the various areas you're interested in. Drought conditions might continue and this could put a damper on your plans. I didn't go this year but I probably should have anyhow. For Sharptails, early in the season is best because they get pretty spooky after being shot at a few times. Early on, the weather is warm and might remain that way for a while, completely unsuitable for Labradors. One year in SD, over 100 Labs died of the heat on opening weekend of Pheasant season. You'll also be at a huge disadvantage using a retriever where a pointing dog is needed. If you've got a good dog that hunts better than your average Labrador, you might make it work. Remember, this is a pointing dog website so we're a bit biased.
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Re: First upland road trip?

Postby AverageGuy » Sat Nov 27, 2021 10:48 am

The most success I have on Sharptails is in September and early October when they are still in family groups and feeding in grass pastures. Once they get flocked up and move to feeding on grain it gets alot more difficult to get good dog work (I hunt with pointing dogs).

The challenge in the early season is the heat. It shuts dogs down and you may only have 2-3 hours in the morning when you can hunt. The norm when hunting sharptails is you will cover a lot of miles but it is the easiest walking bird hunting I do. I love it.

Using a Lab I would focus on hitting brush/shrub cover in the draws during midday when the birds are loafing in the shade. You will have to carry lots of water and be careful to not overheat your dog.

If you go later for pheasants I expect you and your lab could be very successful focusing on hunting cattails and heavy cover draws.

SD and Eastern MT are in severe droughts this year and the cover has taken a beating. Bird numbers are down in both and if we have a bad winter they could really be down next year. I would be researching both and hold your final decision until we see how the winter and spring nesting seasons go. There is a lot of public land in both states to hunt, MT more so than SD. ND is another excellent option.
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Re: First upland road trip?

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Sun Nov 28, 2021 8:17 am

Labs are not made for early season sharpies. You have several problems: the heat, a close ranging dog, and snakes. Lab's excel on pheasant and grouse, but in my opinion, are at a huge disadvantage on sharpies. I personally, don't hunt the early season. Many days it's in the 80's and that's tough on man and beast.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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