Andrew Bishop – Pheasant Hunting

April 15, 2012

Here is a trip we did at the end of the Bay of Plenty game bird season to get you wing shooters excited about chasing cock pheasants in 2012!

As the sun rose on the Sunday of closing weekend for pheasants in the Bay of Plenty, the ute was loaded with three dogs (2 Labradors and 1 Weimaraner) and four shooters bound for a private farm near Taupo.

This trip has become an annual pilgrimage for Tom and myself, however this year with bird numbers reported to be in excess we invited two more shooters.

After checking in with the farm manager we slowly navigated our way via farm races to the flats at the back of the farm. As we came over the crest of a hill two cock pheasants were feeding in the newly sown grass on the flats around 200 metres away. They quickly scurried into the mature trees of a planted gully splitting the recently cropped paddocks.

The boys were jumping around like kids in a candy store upon seeing this activity as we new we were in for a good day!

With four shooters and three dogs we put two shooters in the gully and a shooter each flanking each side with dogs working furiously through the undergrowth. It was obvious there were a lot of birds in the area due to the dogs excitement and lack of ability to follow one trail. Multiple scents confuse the dogs as to the exact movements of the birds.

However it was not long until a running cock pheasant had no where to hide with the two labs aggressively hunting around one patch of gorse, with two shooters poised, the pheasant flushed and immediately quartered away from me, without hesitation a shot was fired and the cock bird replaced breakfast bread for lead! A short retrieve in an open paddock ensured for “boy” my chocolate labrador. At one and half years old and his first pheasant shoot there was no hesitation bounding after the dropped bird, however he did take his time to retrieve, mouthing the bird a few times.

As we made our way through well planted gullies, a fenced wetland with folded flax and grass proved to be the mecca. It was obvious this is where the pheasants were roosting and by the looks a healthy number of birds to boot! Surely birds were not far away. With think undergrowth the dogs had to get beneath the foliage to get results. Toms pointer soon locked on and the labs were unleashed only to present a flurry of hen pheasants, one after another they banked away down the gully. If only they were cocks!

My friend Aaron had a new under and over and this was his first pheasant shoot so he was fizzing at the chance of shooting a pheasant. That afternoon he proved his worth. Toms dog had chased a runner into poplar lined drain, shooters at the ready out popped a fat cock bird being dragged down by the length of his tail, he rose sharply and banked across me, with the bead on his sweed I pulled the trigger only to hear click! Then bang from Aaron! My bolt was not  shut properly on my semi auto which presented Aaron the prize bird of the day!

The day soon progressed with each shooter bagging atleast two cock birds each. With limits of 5 cock pheasants per person, our total bag limit was 20 birds, however we had no desire to shoot this many. We finished the day with 10 cock birds which is an outstanding shoot by most peoples standard.

I personally have never seen so many birds on one farm other then beating at a pheasant preserve! Hens were in abundance which bodes well for future years here. Happy hunters and dogs resulted!

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