Gear up for pheasant hunting

By Scott W. Roemhildt, DNR information officer

Pheasant hunting doesn’t require a lot of specialized or expensive equipment, but there are some basic items that will make your time in the field more enjoyable and productive.

License/Hunting Regulations Handbook. The trail to good hunting starts with a license. You can get handbooks and licenses at any of the more than 1,500 DNR electronic license vendors or online. Hunting licenses are also available by mobile application or by dialing 888-665-4236.

Maps. Scouting an area will increase your odds of finding pheasants and good maps will help your efforts. Free online, interactive maps that identify wildlife management areas and Walk-In Access areas are available online. Combined, these programs provide 1.3 million acres of public hunting on 1,550 parcels. A local plat book may also come in handy to identify specific parcels of land.

Shotgun and shells. The best shotgun is one that you have used and are comfortable with. The style or gauge of the shotgun is not nearly as important as your proficiency with it. Since pheasants are fairly tough birds, you will want to choose a heavier load such as 4 or 5 shot and limit your shooting distances to less than 50 yards. This will result in fewer wounded birds. Nontoxic shot is required on federal land, but many hunters prefer to use it anytime they’re in the field.

Blaze orange. Minnesota pheasant hunters are required to wear at least one visible article of clothing above the waist that is blaze orange. This could be a hat, jacket or hunting vest. The more blaze orange you wear, the more visible you will be to other hunters.

Good boots. Pheasant hunting involves lots of walking on uneven terrain. Good quality, above-the-ankle boots or shoes will provide the comfort and support you need for a day in the field.  Since crossing creeks and marshy areas is common, waterproof boots are preferred by many hunters.

Layered clothing. Cool fall mornings often turn into sunny, warm afternoons. Layered clothing will prepare you for a variety of weather conditions. Long sleeves and gloves will help keep you from getting scratched up when moving through tall grass, cattails or woody cover. Hunting chaps or brush pants will protect your legs and keep you dry on mornings when the grass is wet.

Eye and ear protection. Anytime you use a firearm, you should protect your eyes and ears. A pair of sunglasses and foam ear plugs will provide basic protection. More expensive options included coated, colored, high impact lenses and digital hearing aids that enhance some sounds while protecting ears from loud noises.

A good dog. A dog is not required to hunt pheasants, but a good hunting dog will increase the opportunities you have to harvest birds and provide you with a companion in the field. A hunting dog is a year-round commitment. Be sure you are willing to invest significant time and energy before purchasing a dog.

Hydration. Be sure to carry at least two bottles of water in the field and have jugs of water at your vehicle. Water your dog and yourself, often. Bring snacks to keep your energy level up and consider canine energy bars for your dog.

The right equipment and a little preparation will greatly enhance your hunting experience. Have fun, be safe and good luck hunting!