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You Have Your New French Brittany, Now What?

Five Quail and Pheasant Hunting Tips For Beginners in the Midwest


Upland hunting in Illinois and Iowa is a great way to get introduced to upland bird hunting for beginners. You won't run into the crowds of South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, and Montana. The hardest part is finding the land to hunt on...more on that at the end of the blog. You don’t need a lot of equipment to get started and although the finer points may take years to learn, it doesn’t take much to grasp a basic understanding of how to hunt Bobwhites and Roosters. If you’re thinking about getting started in upland hunting with your French Brittany or just need a refresher, I hope this blog will help you out. These five upland hunting tips for will get you started on the right foot.


Keep It Down

Deer hunters are meticulous about closing doors quietly. The slam of a truck door will alert pheasants in the same way it would a whitetail. Pheasants actually have pretty good hearing and birds that are hunted hard will take flight or head for thicker cover when they feel threatened. You can get away with talking softly but close doors quietly and use hand signals as much as possible. The nice thing about hunting quail on the other hand is that they don't tend to spook nearly as easy from the noises as pheasants do. That doesn't mean bells and yelling at dogs won't have an impact on your hunt...so try to Keep It Down.


Take Your Time

A lot of old roosters earn their years thanks to the impatience of hunters. Hunters often move through cover too fast. Let the dogs cover the ground and don't rush them. Pheasants simply circle behind them and into safety. Work through cover in a zigzag fashion. Another good way to get roosters to flush is to pause frequently. A brief stop is just enough to get a bird holding tight to lose confidence and take to the skies.



Hunt The Edges

Pheasants and quail move through various types of habitat throughout the day looking for places to feed and rest safely. This movement leaves them holding to edges frequently. A lot of hunters target big chunks of habitat but it is important to check out places like fence lines and ditches. Anywhere one type of habitat transitions to another can offer excellent hunting. Here in Central IL, ag field edges and water ways tend to be the most productive areas. If you are lucky enough to find old hedge rows and shelter belts in fields- make sure to spend some time there.





Sleep In

The early bird gets the worm, right? Well, the early bird gets hungry later in the day too. Many upland hunters have their feet by the fire by late afternoon but they could be missing the best hunting of the day. Pheasants and quail start moving out of heavy cover and into more open roost sites during the last hour of daylight. Grassy patches along corn fields are classic cover spots for evening hunts.


Set Your Calendar Back

The same hunters that are sitting fireside for happy hour usually put their shotguns away before the snow flies too. Late season pheasant and quail hunting can be very good and hunters willing to brave the elements are often rewarded with heavy game vests. Cattail marshes are my favorite cover for late season pheasant hunting. They don’t get any pressure early in the year when water is present. However, once the ice is thick enough to walk on, you can move through cattails easier and the birds gravitate to them. Be sure to keep a close eye on your dog(s) in the late season.



One of the great things about pheasant hunting is the social aspect. Upland is tough to do by yourself so most experienced hunters are more than happy to have someone join in on the fun, even if they are new to the game. Illinois has a nice "put and take" or "controlled pheasant hunting program" at many of their state parks. They also offer a once year lottery for wild upland hunting on state owned property. Information can be found my clicking here. If you’re looking for a higher quality experience on wild birds, feel free to reach out to us. We do a limited number of guided wild hunting trip in Central Illinois and Southeast Iowa on our farms. You are welcome to bring your dog(s) with you or we can use mine. Illinois also offers some very nice hunting lodges. I highly recommend you checking out Harpole's Heartland Lodge.


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