Beginning Pheasant Hunters: Try the Fee Hunts
Autumn is the perfect time of year to be in the field and try your hand at pheasant hunting. Here are several reasons why these hunts are a good fit for beginning pheasant hunters:
- Hunt areas are close for many people. Fee pheasant hunts are on ODFW wildlife areas that are near major metropolitan cities:
- Portland (Sauvie Island Wildlife Area)
- Corvallis (EE Wilson Wildlife Area)
- Eugene (Fern Ridge Wildlife Area)
- Medford (Denman Wildlife Area)
- No need for scouting. Hunters can be assured there are birds present since pheasants are released regularly on the wildlife areas.
- Success can be found in just a few hours depending on how heavily the wildlife area is stocked and how much hunting pressure is on the birds.
- Bird dogs aren’t required, although they may make it quicker to find and flush a pheasant and to then retrieve it.
- Camouflaged clothing isn’t necessary. Sturdy pants and shoes for walking through brush is a good idea as is long sleeves. A blaze orange hat or vest is recommended for safety. If the area is wet, rubber boots and rain pants/jacket will be more comfortable.
- ODFW offers pheasant hunting workshops for adults and youth hunters. These workshops teach shotgun skills and offer participants the chance to hunt with a dog and experienced hunter. Check our website, myodfw.com and click on the Workshops and Events page.
Here are seven solid pheasant hunting tips from experienced pheasant hunters:
- Gear Checklist:
- A 12, 16, or 20-gauge shotgun with a modified choke is recommended, plugged to hold no more than 3 shells.
- Non-toxic shot is required on ODFW Wildlife Areas. Buy #3 or #4 steel shot.
- An Oregon hunting license, upland game bird validation, and Western Oregon fee pheasant permit (see license requirements for age exceptions) are required.
- Blaze orange vest and hat to help other hunters see you in the field (required for hunters 17 and younger).
- Daily Public Hunt Area Permit from the self service check-in station at the wildlife area
- Wildlife Area Parking Pass displayed in vehicle window. This permit is included in the purchase of your hunting license, but you need to print it out before you leave home.
- If you’re new to shooting shotguns, practice on clay targets first. This way, you’ll be more comfortable and accurate shooting in the field. Some wildlife areas offer on-site stations to practice shooting.
- Basic safety rules will keep you and other hunters safe. Be courteous to other hunters and give way. Don’t push into a confined or crowded area, even if you know there is a bird there. Pass up your shot if other hunters or dogs are in your zone of fire.
- If you are hunting with a dog, scent conditions are best on cool, overcast days with a little breeze. Many hunters report excellent hunting conditions in the afternoons when fewer hunters are present and the pheasants begin to move around to feed.
- Once you’re in the field, look for areas with good cover such as shrubs and taller grasses, and the margins of ponds, channels, or waterbodies. Try to identify and work habitat edges such as field borders or ditches with good cover. Resist the temptation to stay on roads and dikes where the walking is easier.
- Be prepared for hunting conditions that can feel crowded. Don’t assume that previous hunters have located all the birds in an area. If you’re able to hunt during the week, you’ll encounter fewer hunters than on weekends.
- Once you bag a bird, you can learn how to process and prepare it for cooking by looking up the myodfw channel on YouTube for our “skinning a pheasant” video.