Throughout much of pheasant country, the 2009-2010 ringneck season is either coming to a close or is nothing more than a fond memory. For many of us, it will be remembered as a season that began with an overabundance of crops and finished with bountiful flushes of roosters. Regardless of how you choose to remember it, hopefully this past year has left a smile on your face and a few birds in your bag.
No matter where you hunted or how many birds you harvested, the closing of pheasant season will leave you feeling restless. Your weekends will seem too long as winter’s daylight fades too quickly. The dog in your life will begin looking out the window longingly while your boots sit in the closet collecting dust. The pheasant off-season can be a very bleak time for an admitted upland addict, however, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Just like any other fine-tuned professional athlete (this is where you roll your eyes) pheasant hunters can enact an off-season regimen that may not have you benching 300 lbs, but will at least help you survive the winter and have you ready to hit the fields like never before.
Below you’ll find a list of things to take care of this off-season that will help you and your dog ring in the New Year. Just think, before you know it you’ll be hearing the cackle of a flushing rooster again.
- Now is the time to buy gear. It shouldn’t be hard to find some great year-end sale prices at your local sporting goods stores or at Pheasants Forever’s Upland Marketplace.
- Create a journal on all of the various fields you hunted before you forget. Make note of where the birds flushed and the type of weather conditions there were. This way, you’ll know exactly where to go next year.
- How did your dog perform? Did your pup do enough off season conditioning? A dog is a year round commitment - put in the time all year to keep old Sparky sharp and you'll be rewarded the entire 2010 season.
- Quell your off season boredom and stay connected to the outdoor world by attending a local PF banquet. Simply go to www.PheasantsForever.org to find a fun chapter banquet near you.
- Write thank you letters to all of the private landowners who let you hunt on their property. Sometimes the easiest way to be allowed back on a great piece of property is a simple “Thank You” when the owner least expects it.
- Practice your marksmanship. Trust me, your friends get tired of your early season excuses for missed birds.
- Keep yourself and your dog in shape by visiting a hunting preserve during the off-season. It’s a great way to keep your legs fit and your dog's nose “birdy.”