As the leaves change and warmer temperatures are replaced with brisk, cool breezes many hunters get excited for the opportunity to chase down birds. While few things are better than spending a few hours enjoying the fall weather with a shotgun in your hands, it gets even better when you put meat on the table.
In the spirit of giving, we’ve gathered some tips to help you nab more birds this fall and make your time in the great outdoors even better.
1. Location, Location, Location
Finding a decent piece of property that holds upland or waterfowl can often be even more challenging than the actual hunt itself. Though private property tends to offer less pressure, it can be challenging to gain permission to use the land.
Our pro tip? Take to scouting pre-season, stopping by farms and introducing yourself to the landowner. Showing up sans a gun and camo removes barriers some landowners have against strangers and makes the experience more friendly. If they’re willing, ask to scout the property to see if it’d be a good fit for bird hunting. If they decline, politely thank them and leave. If they’re agreeable, take a quick look and remember to drop by a small gift later to thank them for their time.
Building a relationship with a landowner before hunting season shows that you are thoughtful, respectful and mature. It’s sure to leave a positive impression and, hopefully, get you well on your way to bird hunting.
2. Rely on a Four-Legged, Furry Friend
No doubt hunters can find, flush, and down birds without a dog; but those who opt for a furry friend tend to be much more successful. Unlike humans, dogs don’t rely on their eyes to locate birds meaning they are better equipped to find and flush them out – not to mention, locate birds after a successful shot. A dog on point also gives its owner the chance to set his or her feet and check surroundings in preparation for a flushing bird.
Playing to your dog’s strengths will help as well. For instance, Labradors are known for flushing birds and work great in tall, thick grass during warm afternoon hours. Pointers, on the other hand, operate best through shorter grass in the morning or evening as birds are actively feeding.
Keen senses aside, man’s best friend is always a worthy companion on lonely, long hunts.
3. Hit the Gym
Whether hunting alone or with a dog buddy, getting in shape before hitting the fields is a must if you intend to tackle a full day of hunting. If you find yourself getting winded on the way to the fridge, it might be time to invest in a solid workout routine to prep for hunting.
If you bring a battle buddy along in the form of a canine, remember to also ensure they’re ready for the season. Bird dogs love nothing more than bounding through fields looking for birds and will do so to the point of exhaustion. Make sure to prep them for birds by walking a few miles with your pup before taking them out on a hunt.
As insurance, be sure to leave a hunting plan with a friend, neighbor or relative– a simple text can suffice– and brush up on your basic wilderness survival and the expected weather beforehand.
4. Take the Shot
It’s often surprising how many hunters refrain from a shot because they feel unsure about whether they can make a hit. If you don’t take the shot, you most certainly won’t take the bird. That’s not to say you should shoot blindly, but don’t be afraid to take a well-aimed shot after you’ve identified the target.
A little nervous? Take some time to practice pre-hunt. Shooting trap or skeet will help build necessary reflexes in addition to confidence before hitting the fields.
Also, make sure to check out our list of some of the best shotguns for bird hunting.
This is far from a comprehensive guide to bird hunting, but these tips should undoubtedly help put more birds in the crockpot. Remember, after a good day of hunting – leave the field better than when you entered it. Clean up after yourself and while you’re at, donate or volunteer with conservation groups. These organizations aid bird populations and ensure happy hunting for future generations.
The plus side – you might also pick up some new hunting buddies or tips and tricks for local hunting areas.