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How to Hunt Pheasants in the Snow

When the weather gets bad most hunters head back to the cabin.

For the diehard hunter there is much to enjoy about pheasant hunting in the snow and bad weather. There is an added physical and mental challenge to chasing the birds while the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Snow falls in many northern states during October and November and by December many parts of the upper US at least have some snow on the ground for the remainder of the winter. With many pheasant hunting seasons coinciding with the snowfall it’s a given that some hunters will have to venture out in the snow to chase the birds.

While some will shun hunting in the snow others will find it to their liking. It can actually be easier to hunt pheasants in the snow if you have the right strategy. The birds will act differently and it can be to your advantage to head out in after a good snowfall.

When the snow is dry and light you should still be able to walk around as you normally would. Take your trusty bird dog with you and you’ll be able to get close to the pheasants and get them to flush close for a great shot.

Here are a few other tips for hunting pheasants in the snow.

Pheasants Sit Tight in the Snow

Pheasants have a difficult time in the snow. When things are light and fluffy they can’t make their way through. They’ll be forced to sit tight until they are better able to move around.

During regular dry and fall conditions the birds are able to move around freely. They can see enemies coming from a long way away and they’re able to easily run from the danger and make their way to thicker cover giving them a better chance of survival.

In the snow, the birds have a difficult time getting away. They’ll sit tight giving you a better chance to get close for an easier shot. You really can’t walk slow enough when hunting pheasants in the snow. They’ll be sitting really tight so walk slow and even go back through the thick areas a couple times because all the pheasants will be heading ot the thick areas with the most cover so they can sit tight to wait out the storm.

Cattail Marshes and Wetland Edges Provided Great Winter Cover

Thick cover is the name of the game in the snow. Ever after a storm the birds will still need to sit tight. They’ll need to wait until the crust forms on top of the snow before they are really able to move around as they normally would so just after a snowfall is a great time to get out in the field.

Cattail marshes and the edges of other wetland areas are great for hunting pheasants in the snow. You should be able to find pheasants huddled up where it can be difficult to get to for predators. The birds are smart and they know that the predators will be laying low during the snow as well.

By heading into these two areas you should find yourself on some good birds. Walk the areas a couple of times because the birds will be sitting tight. Slowly make your way through the thickest areas with your dogs. If you get on the birds they’ll fly high and tight so be ready for a good shot.

Look for Bent Over Trees and Brush to Find Hiding Pheasants

Along with those thick areas look for trees or brush that are bent over from the weight of the new snowfall. Look for trees such as pine or other thick trees where the snow will have its effect.

There will be dry areas under these trees where the pheasant likes to spend its time out of the harsh conditions. Many animals in the forest and field look for this type of cover when the weather gets difficult. It’s a natural protection from the elements.

If you get out there just as the snow is ending you can still catch the birds hiding out as they sit tight and wait for things to improve. Once again, the birds won’t be able to head out right away because they’ll sink in the snow. If there is a more than a few inches on the ground the birds will be stuck and they’ll head for the thick cover in preparation because they know they’re stuck for a while.

Sneak through these areas with your eyes peeled. Make sure you walk through at least a couple times because the birds will be difficult to flush in these conditions. That can be a good thing for the hunter that has a few thick areas to hunt. You won’t have to do a ton of walking to find the birds.


Pheasant hunting in the snow has its advantages.

You’ll largely have the woods to yourself because the other hunters will wait for better conditions. Head out just as the conditions are getting better. If you can get out once the snow is ending you can catch the birds still in their thick cover.

Walk each thick area a couple of times and harvest your limit. There is something neat about hunting in the snow and that includes taking that chocolate lab out with and seeing the snow fly off as its paws dash up and down the thick areas searching for the birds.