Finding Downed Pheasants
The shotguns break that still, chilly Kansas autumn air, and hunters smile as they see those colorful Kansas pheasants fall.
However, as one hunter nears the spot of the downed pheasant, he realizes he just wounded the bird and didn’t kill it cleanly. He searches frantically with his dog. No luck. Now what? This can happen to any of us on occasion, even if we are taking an ethical shot and know our range and capabilities with our respective shotguns.
The frustration of thinking that a hunter just fed a hungry coyote instead of harvesting a pheasant will linger in the mind for quite some time. If this happens, don’t give up too soon on finding the bird. Understandably, you don’t want to hold up and frustrate your entire group by spending an enormous amount of time searching for that bird that you “should have shot better.”
On the other hand, look for two things. First, if you have dogs on your hunt, get them to the exact spot where the pheasant hit the ground. If the bird is wounded and running, the gun dogs will catch up to it eventually, but they need a starting point to get on the scent.
Second, scan the area for the thickest cover. If you see a small area of thick brush nearby, go to it. Look for the thickest cover you can find. Something you can’t even walk through easily, if at all, even if it is a half-mile away. That is likely where the bird is hiding. Wounded pheasants instinctively know they are vulnerable. They will seek the thickest stuff they can find as a last means for survival. It’s the hunter’s job to find that area and search it thoroughly with the dogs.
Then smile as you tuck that rooster in your hunting vest.