Late Season Hunting For Ringneck Pheasants In South Dakota
Everyone wants to get out there first and for the most part, the “Early bird gets the worm” theory does have some merit; however, a lot of hunters who have been hunting for a while actually like to go later in the season. Why? Well, you’d have to ask them directly but the guys I know don’t like crowds. I understand that completely. It’s no fun hunting when you keep bumping into other hunters. In addition, it kind of cramps your style and can cost you a shot. The negative to hunting late in the season is that the pheasants start to figure out that they are being hunted and are hard to get. BUT, you can still hunt successfully. Try these suggestions:
- Late in the season, pheasants stay bunched up in packs. This is great because the more you see, the more opportunity you have. It is very action-packed and has been called by some to be more of a shoot than a hunt.
- Dress warm. It gets cold in South Dakota. Make sure you have some blaze orange on for safety. Nobody wants to get shot or shoot anyone else.
- Be quiet!! A pheasants number one defense is it’s ability to hear danger. They will flee hundreds of yards ahead of the slightest sound that they perceive as a threat, especially late in the season. That can be your car or truck door slamming, talking to another hunter or your dog yelping.
- Look for areas that other hunters would likely avoid like brush or trees in the middle of a field or pasture. Because other hunters avoided these spots, they very well could be a place where pheasants are hiding. Use that to your advantage late in the season.
- Look for wetlands or other areas of thick, dense cover. As the season goes on and it gets colder, pheasants seek this type of cover to shelter them from the cold and to hide. As the grass gets frozen over, it also makes hunting better because they come out of there.
- Some of the greatest places to hunt for pheasants are not where you would think. Ditches next to roads are ideal. Not only do they enjoy the cover which is usually in these ditches, but they eat the gravel to help them digest their food. When cars pass, be quiet and listen. You should be able to hear them running around. Once you know where they are…you got ‘em.
- During later season pheasant hunting, use a larger shot size (like a 5 shot) and a full choke. If you are in certain areas, remember that you have to use steel shot or some other non-toxic shot.
- Utilize your dogs and proper blocking strategies. Go small and go smart. In other words, divide the land you are hunting into parcels. Then, use your dogs or other hunters to form a perimeter. Then drive towards open areas. It forces the birds out and gives you a clean shot. Deer hunters often use a similar system. Once you drive through, you will either see a ton of birds, or you will see none. In any case, you will then move to the next parcel and do it again. If you are by yourself, go small (stalk), walk slow (if you walk fast, you will walk right past a bunch of pheasants) and stop frequently (stopping not only helps you hear what’s going on but it also makes hiding pheasants very nervous because they think you know where they are…then they make a run for it).
Ringnecks are worth adversaries so use any advantage you can. Happy hunting.
Read more about late season pheasant hunts in South Dakota on our blog