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Pheasant Hunting Tactics and Strategies

Pheasant Hunting Tactics and Strategies

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Pheasant Hunting Tactics and Strategies

153 pagine
2 ore
Jul 7, 2013


The first book to compile strategy and tactics for pheasant hunting along with aggressive gun handling and proactive mindset. A lifelong hunter, firearms instructor, competition shooter and law enforcement officer combines tactical concepts with hunting practices. Extensive advice is also provided on guns, shells, clothing and dogs
Jul 7, 2013

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Pheasant Hunting Tactics and Strategies - Mike Keleher

Pheasant Hunting Tactics and Strategies


By   Mike Keleher

Copyright 2013 by Mike Keleher

Published by Mike Keleher-Black Rifle Ranch

All rights reserved

Published in the United States of America

ISBN: 978-1-304-20898-9

Cover design: Black Rifle Ranch

Cover photograph: Famous Dogs Lola and Tigger


For my dad, and my hunting family, I cannot begin to describe all I have learned from you.

…and Ted Nugent for inspiring me to never miss an opportunity to pass along the hunting tradition.


I have hunted pheasants from about age 10. I got to go with my dad and granddad starting about age 7. I have raised my own family and taught them to hunt. I have a hunting wife and have had the pleasure to hunt with my dad my whole life, my brother and his wife and now my niece at every opportunity we can. They are all very good hunters and hunting is a bond my family eagerly shares with others. We have hunted and taught others both old and young.

I have reached a point where I would like to pass some of this along to others in this book as a tribute to my dad Jack and his father who was also named Jack. They taught me things-often without my knowing it, and later I looked at successes and compiled some tactics that seem to work better than others.

My dad and grandfather grew up in rural Illinois and hunting was a way of putting food on the table as well as an enjoyable sport. Today things have changed drastically and pheasant sightings are much more rare. When I was a kid it was rare to see a deer, and now it is a very common occurrence.  There were no wild turkeys in our area. Now there are more deer and coyotes in Illinois than at any time in recorded history. I have always enjoyed the walking and moving part of bird hunting. Sitting still in a deer blind is fine, but I would much rather be walking and finding birds than waiting for them to walk by me!

I realize now how fortunate I was getting to grow up in a hunting family and did not think much about it until I left home for college. Being a hunter was just part of my life; I did not know other people did not have the same advantages or develop a passion for the outdoors. Later when I met my wife I got several good lectures about how just because she was married to me she did not automatically know everything about bird hunting.  I never noticed till then that my dad, brother and I did no talk much while hunting. We had done it for so long; we just knew what our roles were and would take up positions in relation to each other based upon terrain and cover it all without speaking.

This used to drive Micheale crazy.

I started thinking about how to hunt pheasants and how to teach, mentor and encourage others in this sport.  I also started thinking about techniques and tactics that helped make me more successful as a hunter. Back about 1995 and I published a article on pheasant tactics in a regional hunting and fishing magazine and this book has grown out of the idea I have something to teach new or old hunters which may benefit them. There are droves of articles on deer, turkey and duck hunting, but very few related to pheasants.

If you did not grow up with a mentor teaching you about gun handling, dog handling and pheasant hunting techniques it is hard to just start. The knowledge of what to do and what gear to use is daunting enough-then if you don’t find birds or at least get to shoot at some it can quickly become tedious.

By all means get a partner or partners to go. Sharing the outdoors and hunting experience is always value added and I believe much more fun than hunting alone.

I would like to pass some of this accumulated learning and a few stories to help new hunters get started and help them think about what they are seeing and doing afield. The tactics part may be of benefit to more experienced hunters who just never saw conditions and personal positions quite this aggressively.

My dad is 82 and is talking about hunting this fall and considering buying a new hunting dog-I hope some of that lifelong passion can be instilled in new hunters or reaffirm those who would just like to be better hunters.

As my dad would say Birds are where you find ‘em, and I hope you go look for some birds soon.



Early Days

I grew up in rural Illinois in a hunting family. So pheasant hunting and gun dogs were just normal part of day to day life and I considered it a normal part of the fall season. It wasn’t until a bit later I discovered not everyone had this same attitude towards the outdoors and hunting. I don’t think less of them, they may still be good people worthy of love, devotion and just as likely to win the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, but seriously, how could you not love hunting with your family? I ended up sharing hunting with many good friends and my own family and kids and would like to see that tradition either continue or started with other people who would like to learn to hunt pheasants or hunt them with more success.

My grandfather was an avid hunter and he passed this down to my father. My father was born in 1930 and during the depression and WWII era he always had a hunting dog and shot pheasants, rabbits, dove and even pigeons that were brought home to put on the family dinner plate.  Eating your own game harvest always tastes better than normal food, and providing food for your loved ones sustenance is certainly an understated but obvious connection to the joys of hunting.

In this current age, relatively few of us must hunt to feed their family. The availability of store bought, butchered and shrink wrapped meat is the norm, but it was not so long ago in much of rural America that hunters fed their families with wild game as a major source of non-hormone, all natural protein. My pal Ted Nugent proudly proclaims he feeds his family wild game from fish to birds and big game and has not bought meat in years. I envy that ability (as well as the amount of hunting Ted is able to do all over the US and Africa!)

My earliest memories of pheasant hunting show up around 3-4 years of age with my dad wearing the old Jones style hat and bringing home dead pheasants (if you don’t know what a Jones hat is look at Red Green, he still wears one-and if you don’t know who Red Green is, look him and Jones hats up on the internet!).

We still have some old black and white photos of my brother and I posing with plastic shotguns and dead birds (I have no idea why we wore plastic Army helmets in the pics…but family photographers were much less picky in the early 1960’s.) A bit later, in early grade school I was allowed to go along with my grandfather and father on bird hunting outings.  I was pretty sure at age 6 or 7 I had achieved full manhood.

I was of course not allowed to carry a gun, but would carry a pocket full of rocks and carry a big stick in case I needed to throw a rock at a charging rhino or skewer an antelope or lion on the vast Illinois cornfield prairie…hey it could happen!

My grandfather owned a Chevrolet and Oldsmobile dealership with a gas station and garage attached. He wore a tie every day and I have memories of him coming hunting of a weekday afternoon straight from work, pulling on a pair of canvas brush pants and boots and still having on his white shirt and tie and hat (this was back in the days when men still wore hats!). In Illinois the hunting season only runs November and December and with the Daylight Savings time change you had to get your afternoon hunts in before the sun went down around 5-6 PM, so no time to take off your tie I guess! In the next 40 years of hunting I can proudly say I never took to the field wearing a tie. In the last couple of years I have hunted for deer straight from work pulling a cover all over work clothes and keeping a bow in the trunk of my car-but I always took the time to take off my tie!

Speaking of cars, early in the 1960’s we did not always have a pickup truck to take hunting. My grandfather would occasionally have access to one at his garage, but I have very distinct early memories of going hunting with him and my dad in what can only be called a hunting car.   My grandmother had an old 1950’s or early 1960’s yellow and white Oldsmobile that would be pressed into service. It had the first electric windows I had ever seen, and many life lessons were learned by young boys with free access to the up and down buttons and the amount of force used to pinch small fingers.

The hunting car had few other luxury features but had a large trunk. It was a bit of a marvel to see my grandfather load his big male German Shorthaired pointer Fritz into the trunk and slam the lid then drive us the 15 or so miles to the hunting grounds. I was fairly impressed Fritz, a fairly smart dog, did not complain or expire in the trunk and could be coached even near the trunk on successive outings.

Before Fritz, my grandfather and father had bought a big English Pointer male called Rock.  My father tells the story about putting the money together and then he drove down to a tiny town into central Illinois to pick up this trained bird dog. (Keep in mind the town we lived in was only 1,000 people!) The owner showed him this big white male with a brown head who was tightly chained up. My dad asked if he was voice trained and the owner assured him he was. Well, turn him out. They let big Rock off the chain and he proceeded to run laps around the tiny town. Every once in a while Rock would run past the house and the dog trainer/owner would yell Here Rock! Rock-a- babe! C’mon boy as the pointer would streak by.  Rock, as it turns out was what is known as a big running dog.  If you did not have space say the size of a small airport for him

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