Finish of Season Possibilities Abound


Dennis Foster with a South Dakota late season pheasant.

In my 50 plus years living, operating and hunting right here in Spink County, SD (exactly where it all started with the 1st release of Chinese Ringneck Pheasants on land that is an integral portion of my guided pheasant hunting operation) I have had the fantastic fortune to observe and in turn, understand a wonderful deal about pheasant habits and behavior patterns. In addition, I also obtain normal reports from my self-guided consumers that are sprinkled all through the State.

A widespread theme that rises to surface is that late season-from Thanksgiving on-proves to be the finest time frame for the most thrilling hunts of the year. There are quite a few motives for this.  The biggest of these is the need to have for the birds to commence converging towards heavier cover.  Cool straight equates to concentrations of birds.  This is the correct lure of late season.  The excellent time to practical experience each the heart stopping and heart racing euphoria brought on by the explosive flushes of various birds that tightly group into modest patches of thick winter habitat.

Savvy hunters are increasingly picking out to witness the biggest congregations of birds and conversely, lowest quantity of hunters pursuing them. The legions of hunters drawn for the rush of early season are now lengthy gone.  Leaving all of the huge, mature and heavily feathered roosters for the fairly couple of of us prepared to don a coat and adjust our techniques accordingly.  The puffy and starkly colored plumage they are now donning is certainly gorgeous against the scenic snowy white prairie background.


This is an affair finest suited for smaller sized additional intimate groups. Circumstances dictate this as clear communication and eventually, coordination is crucial.  Significant groups just make this all but not possible to accomplish.  Our pheasants have now observed and have absolutely adapted to the fanfare of huge sweeping drives with an army of these armed and searching to do them harm.  Stealth is now paramount to results.  I advocate groups no bigger than six to eight.  Or, about what you can match into two cars.  3 at the most.  What is outlined as follows has served us effectively more than the years.

The 1st order of small business is to have all of your spots scouted out effectively in advance. This is finest achieved by just driving the roads surrounding each and every prospective parcel.  Not straight in the field as winter birds are wary birds.  You can glean all that is necessary from the road and they spend tiny consideration to passing cars.  Mid-afternoon to early evening will locate them feeding straight adjacent to heavy cover and they are very easily spotted in groups ranging from dozens up to a hundred, or additional.  You can be all but assured they will be identified in the nearby cover the subsequent morning.  You can even glass the edges to spot the inform-tale tracks exactly where they are leaving and returning to additional define modest and precise places of the cover you will want to concentrate your efforts on.  This is a surgical strike situation versus the carpet bombing campaigns of early season.

Sensible hunters enjoying the warm glow of winter results.

After you have your areas selected, it is crucial to have a firm game program in spot and have this efficiently relayed and comprehended by all hunters in your group. If they are not familiar with the areas, it pays to have them swiftly appear the circumstance more than to totally comprehend what is anticipated of them ahead of ever stepping out of a car.  Cease a fantastic half mile away with a fantastic vantage point in order to do so.  You can now take action and implement your program.

And by action, I imply instant action. This is not a time for delays and dallying about.  The birds know complete effectively you are there and what your intentions are.  We just need to have to spring our trap ahead of they get as well nervous and bolt.  And bolt they will.  To retain them corralled, it is paramount to have all parties headed for the cover at the exact same time and pace so as to hit it simultaneously for finest benefits.  This is exactly where modest dense pieces of cover such as cattails sloughs of maybe five acres or so are preferred.  By way of your scouting intel you can normally locate fingers, edges and ends of substantially bigger sloughs will function equally effectively.  The crucial is to concentrate your efforts on confining the birds to manageable spots exactly where the odds of getting affordable shots is upped.

I would advocate surrounding your selected piece so as to hem in and get rid of all of the birds escape routes. In order to do so, swiftly and quietly park up to a quarter of a mile away, based on how spooky the birds are.  Have each and every probable issue prepared so you can step out of the car and right away head for the cover at the exact same precise time your counterparts are.  Quiet is mandatory.  If you have dogs that like to bark or partners that really feel a need to have to yap as well, leave em at dwelling.  They will blow the hunt just as swiftly as slamming your doors will.  Wind is valuable as it muffles your strategy.  In this case, it is smart to have your quickest and finest shooters approaching into the wind as the birds will most probably take flight applying the wind to quickly get speed and swiftly distance themselves out of variety.  Therefore, rapid and precise shots are paramount for bringing them back down to earth.

On the topic of shots and shot itself, I strongly encourage you to use only 12 gauges with three inch shells for late season pheasants. These are all mature, challenging and densely feathered birds that call for nothing at all smaller sized than four shot and with that, preferably copper or nickel-plated lead.  You must go with the quickest premium loads from respected shell providers.  A staple for us the final quite a few years has been Fiochhi’s Golden Pheasant supplying.  Pumping out an ounce and 3 quarters of difficult and symmetrical nickel-plated shot at a rather lethal 1,200 feet per second.  You will locate shells like this hit substantially tougher and penetrate deeper for clean and ethical kills.  You will also be pleasantly shocked to uncover the shot does not deform and for that reason, no feathers are driven into the meat and shot typically falls out in the course of the rinsing portion of cleaning. Becoming inexpensive and saving a couple of dollars will finish up costing huge time.  I would additional advocate going with an enhanced modified or tighter choke and the use of auto’s is preferred for rapid stick to up shots.  If they do not right away plummet to the ground, hit em once more to make certain they do not sail off into the distance.

Late season roosters are rather actually, smart old birds that have the inherent instincts to have created it this far. Their sole goal is to be about to breed in the Spring, in spite of our efforts at placing them on a plate.  They are cagey and difficult to capture.  Employ the common techniques I have discussed and be prepared to adapt and understand from each and every and each and every stroll, each and every day you are in the field.  Circumstances can and do adjust and you have to be prepared to do so as effectively.  Be observant, adjust techniques as necessary and you will be rewarded with the most attractive of game birds in their prime and peak situation.

Further notes:

You will locate that gaining an opening for a hunt with an outfitter is simpler, as (please excuse the jab) the fair-climate hunters are now lengthy gone. You will also locate far significantly less competitors for accessing public land.  Additionally, public land can be surprisingly desirable as substantially of it consists of heavy cattail sloughs and shelterbelts that are so productive in the course of this period.  I would also recommend that you do not repeatedly hunt the exact same places, specifically in the course of cold snaps.  It is currently stressful for the birds and rousting them out of their winter havens just adds to that.  Additionally, if you continually hit the spots, the birds will be hesitant to return due to continual stress and be forced to locate new winter habitat and losses incur in performing so.  Most normally in our ever so essential breeding hens.  A tiny widespread sense goes a lengthy-techniques toward conservation.

That becoming mentioned, if we continue to assistance conservation efforts-fortunately-we have an endlessly renewable resource. I implore you to be active and assistance conservation organizations like Pheasants Forever to make certain a future complete of possibilities.  Come on out and sample some of the late season action for your self. You will locate the people right here in South Dakota to be most welcoming and the relaxed pace will enable to delight in all of the hospitality extended.

Dennis Foster hosts each Totally and Self-Guided hunters in many areas all through the state of South Dakota. He welcome inquiries and comments and can be reached by means of


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