There comes a time every winter where outdoorsmen and women have to prioritize things. Does the cost of your sanity outweigh the benefits of harvesting a cold weather buck during muzzleloader? Do you really want to lay in a frozen corn field for 3 hours while praying for a few geese to land in your spread? Can you escape for the weekend to South Dakota without your spouse forcing you to fight with the dog over who gets to sleep on the couch Sunday night? Hopefully with a little negotiating and the right tactics, harvesting a few late season roosters will soon become your top priority.
Pheasants are out there. Thousands of them. You just have to know where and how to find them once December's nasty temperament takes hold. So strap on your winter boots, throw some hand warmers in your pockets, take note of these time tested winter pheasant hunting tactics and have a blast, literally.
- When it comes to late season roosters you have to think of one thing: Cover. And lots of it. Just like you'd rather be sitting on a La-Z-Boy in front of the TV when it's 10 degrees outside, a rooster would rather be tucked away in cattails or horsetail where it can escape the elements. In fact, some of the best upland hunting can be had in Waterfowl Production Areas, and now that the ice is frozen you won't have to worry about bringing along your hip boots.
- It's no secret that the late harvesting of crops dampened the early season success rate of upland hunters. On the flip-side, this is a good thing for those now willing to brave the elements since there are more birds waiting to be discovered. If cattail sloughs aren't abundant in your area, check out the grassy areas next to recently harvested agricultural fields because birds will hold there after being disturbed by farming machinery.
- Be ready to hunt the second you leave your vehicle. Often times, people aren't ready for the sudden flushes that occur in the ditches of gravel roads. These roadside hot spots can be loaded with birds collecting gravel for their gizzards.
- As Elmer Fudd would say, "Be very, very quiet." These birds have survived for a reason; they flush wild and way out ahead of you. Therefore the less you slam your car doors or yell at your dog the better chance you'll have at getting a close shot off.
- Sometimes the closest chance you'll have at a rooster will be a Hail Mary poke at 40+ yards. For this reason you should switch to a modified or full choke once late December arrives.
Hopefully the snow and cold will cause the birds to bunch up and hold tight for you. This could provide some of the most amazing flushes you'll ever see. However, you won't know for sure until you get your priorities straight. Good luck, stay warm and happy hunting.