Nebraska’s pheasant season opened last weekend to mixed reviews. There were less than expected numbers of hunters in the field, and depending on where you attempted to hunt, mixed reviews on how many birds were seen. The best predicted hunting has been advertised as being in southwest Nebraska. Even hunters in that part of the state had limited success. Maintaining pheasant numbers is akin to alchemy…you are never quite sure what you will end up with.
One must remember that ring-necked pheasants are not native to the Great Plains; the bird came from southern Asia and was imported to the United States over 100 years ago. This species of game birds has adapted to many U.S. states, areas of Europe and New Zealand quite nicely, but the open prairie of Nebraska and the winters here are a challenge to any species.
According to historical records, pheasants were initially stocked in Nebraska by the predecessor to today’s Nebraska Game and Park Commission back in 1915. A few pheasants had been taken in Nebraska prior to that time (1900-1904), but no one knows quite where those birds came from.
Habitat is everything for a pheasant. In addition to a steady food source, pheasants need lots of weedy cover to survive. These “thick areas” are some prime places that I search for pheasants. Unfortunately, these kinds of spots have become rare in Nebraska. Farming practices in many areas have eliminated these critical habitat zones. And you can’t blame farmers, they are just trying to make a living and utilize the resources they have to their best advantages.
There are many successful hunting strategies for pheasants. Understanding the bird will help you in the field. Knowing where a pheasant may be at a given time of day can definitely help your chances at getting a shot.
Pheasants begin their day before sunrise at roost sites, usually in areas of short to medium height grasses where they spend the night. They wait until it is light so that they can better see potential predators and then they begin moving toward roadways or similar areas where they can find gravel or grit for their crops. The grit is necessary for their digestion process.
As soon as they have their grit needs taken care of, pheasants begin feeding. Look for birds along the edges of grain fields near places that would provide some cover.
As the morning progresses, pheasants wrap up their early feeding activities and move into the deepest, thickest cover they can find. Standing corn, CRP fields, wetlands and areas thick with native grasses are good spots to check out.
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Pheasant will hold up in these areas for most of the day. By late afternoon, pheasants feel the need to eat again and begin drifting back into their feeding areas. This is why the first and last hours of shooting light are traditionally the best times to hunt pheasants.
Pheasants are amazing creatures. For something with a relatively small wing surface to body size ratio, they can move! A pheasant may reach 35 to 45 miles per hour in flight. They are not long-distance flyers, but they can easily cover several hundred yards and get out of the way of danger.
It also baffles me how a bird so brightly colored can disappear behind a broken stalk of corn, a stripped corn cob and a clod of dirt. Good luck during your hunting season.
A semi-auto shotgun chambered in .410 is pretty rare. For as long as I can recall, the only one out there has been the Remington 1100. Well, there is a new kid on the block. Legacy Sports International has announced that it will begin importing the POINTER Phenoma .410 Semi-Auto Shotgun from Turkey in 2019. The Phenoma .410 Semi-Auto will be offered in a black synthetic stock with a Cerakote finish or a walnut stock and traditional blued finish.
The Phenoma .410 will be chambered for 3-inch shells and have a 28-inch, chrome moly lined, vent ribbed barrel, with fiber optic sights. The gun will weigh a bit over six pounds. It has been engineered to utilize a gas-operated system tuned for the lighter .410 loads.
A lightweight shotgun that is fast cycling and low recoil seems perfect for adults looking for the challenge of using a lighter shot loads on upland birds and small game and a great shotgun for younger shooters getting into shotgunning or anyone who does not like a lot of recoil. The price is expected to be around $600. Additional information can be found at LegacySports.com.