You and your buddy have been shooting inedible clay pigeons on skeet fields, sporting clays ranges and off of throwers in fields forever. You may even go dove hunting occasionally but have been intimidated by the prospect of a full-on pheasant hunt. We’re going to show you why you shouldn’t be (check out the video of the hunt at the bottom of this post).
I’m not saying that you should just run out and buy a shotgun and go shoot at birds – that will only frustrate you and cost you a ton of time and money for no yield. I’m suggesting that with a little practice and familiarization, the next step to a real bird hunt is not that daunting a task. To show you Jim Rakshys and I, of the Typical Shooter staff and a hunting buddy, Cliff, scheduled a guided upland bird hunt on a 1200 acre preserve – and video taped the experience from a first person perspective.
Guided preserve hunts differ from wild bird hunts in that the birds are raised on farms and placed in the fields. This, with an experienced guide and good dogs presents even a new hunter with the opportunity to see dogs work, see birds flush, recognize the species and/or sex and learn to shoot targets that don’t always go in a straight line. If you are trying to find out whether or not you’d enjoy upland bird hunting, this is a great way to be introduced to it before spending thousands on a Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota wild bird hunt that, especially with the drought in Kansas, could leave you with little to no birds in the bag.
A good guide is important and Ken Adams from the Anderson Creek Hunting Guide Service was just the guy to take our party of three around the Anderson Creek Hunting Preserve. Ken brought along several dogs, but hunting was done with just one at-a-time. Molly and Jazz were two fine examples of working German Short-Haired Pointers and found birds for us rather quickly. Not only did they find the farm birds that had been put in the field, but they pointed out a few wild birds for us to bag as well.
The hunt started at 8am on what was going to be a four location shoot. We would be moving from field-to-field so that we could experience and show you different bird presentations and terrain. With 1200 acres of varying landscape, Anderson Creek has a great deal to offer the new or experienced bird hunter.
The guns I brought to the hunt were the Browning Maxus 12 gauge auto and a Browning Citori XS Special over-and-under 12 gauge. Jim hunted with a Franchi Diamond over-and-under and Cliff brought his Remington 11-87 auto.
For ammunition, I brought along some Remington #6 Nitro Pheasant loads for the big birds and #7 1/2 Remington game loads for quail and chukar. Although, since we weren’t always able to judge what bird the dogs were on, I had #6 loaded far more often to make sure I didn’t cripple a pheasant and risk losing it.
The first field was open in the middle with thick brush on three sides and a barbed-wire fence on the fourth. the clearing was the tightest of the areas we went to and made for a few trips into the treeline to scout out birds. We didn’t take video here to get used to the guide, his dogs and the birds. With typical shooter, safety is always first and a camera can be a distraction.
The second field held a gorgeous view and we started the camera rolling there. We walked along a rise that overlooked a forested basin and the picture was amazing. This second area also appeared to be prime deer hunting land with it’s rolling hills and long, clear site lines. The preserve does have several stands placed in strategic places and has deer hunting plans that start at an extremely reasonable price.
For the third setting, we went further into the same area where the cover was just slightly thicker, but very similar to the previous terrain. Towards the end of walking this field looking for birds, Ken released the sum total of his dogs (after asking us) so they could all get some run-around, bird sniffing time. It was a site to see so many dogs from 4 months and up working the fields, jumping through the brush and looking for birds – truly beautiful.
The last field was another clearing, with a nearby pond that would seem alluring to waterfowl. Anderson Creek does have waterfowl packages. You can choose to hunt wild ducks that fly over/you call, or they can bring in farm birds to get a basic idea of a possible future duck hunting adventure. The last field wasn’t as picturesque as the middle two, but the terrain gave us some interesting challenges. The grass was higher and since it had rained the night before, the birds wings were wet. Since they didn’t go as high as they might otherwise, you had to shoot them quick or risk losing them if they used the grass line for cover.
I hope this entices a few non-wingshooters into giving upland bird hunting a try – it is truly addictive. My first bird hunt was about 30 years ago and I’ve never been able to kick the habit – or even tried to.
Video of the Hunt:
Recipe for the Quail
We certainly enjoyed the hunt, but then we wrapped the quail in bacon, covered them in a jalapeno peach glaze and grilled them just like THIS.
We also grilled up some chukar and pan seared some pheasant, but we’ll have to wait until those recipes get written up for us to post.