Pheasants can be hunted as rough shooting, also known as small game hunting. During rough shooting you often encounter several types of game, so at the end of the day you have a mixed bag.

 

This type of pheasant hunt is often a mix of walking through terrain with dogs and standing at a post. A social hunt is another type of pheasant hunt where you usually shoot birds which have been released. A social hunt gives priority to the social element, and people are usually well dressed. In this form of hunting you stand at a post, and the hunt organiser usually arranges a team of professional dog handlers, so the shooters can concentrate on the shooting. Pheasants are polygamous – a male has several hens. They fly up into the trees to sleep at night.


Pheasant shooting

Challenges of pheasant shooting

When hunting pheasants as rough shooting, you take turns to walk through the terrain and stand in position.

After having struggled through difficult vegetation such as blackberry bushes, rushes and reeds or a forest, you can easily get cold when you again stand still in position.

It is therefore important to have moisture-wicking clothing, so you do not get wet from perspiration as you walk.

Trousers must be made of strong material that can handle blackberry bushes and other plants that would otherwise quickly make holes.

A social hunt is a social event and people are therefore well dressed.

Yet it is also important to be able to stay warm for many hours as you stand still.

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Hunting stories from a hunter

From royal to commonplace

The pheasant has not always been part of Europe’s fauna. We now see the colourful bird everywhere, and its calls ring out across the countryside in the mornings and evenings, when it calls the hens together. It arrived here from Asia in the mid-16th century, not as the game bird we know it as, but as a decorative bird for the wealthy at castles and manors. There are many different species of pheasant, and the first ones were species of ring-necked pheasant. It was not until the 1840s that attempts to get the pheasant to reproduce in the wild were successful.

Guide to pheasant hunting

People who have hunted pheasant know that the bird is not only a good flyer, but also an eager runner. You often get tricked after having seen a pheasant in the air – and seen where it landed. You go over to spot in the hope that it is there, almost ready for the pot!

But you rarely find it. It has run on its way through the reeds and the knotty branches of the willow bush. The dog searches in vain!

I one day saw a pheasant with a young and inexperienced Gordon Setter. Or rather I saw it. The dog didn’t see it, and if it had, it would not have known what it was because it had never seen a pheasant before.

But I saw it, and I thought it would be nice if the dog could experience this bird, so I walked hopefully towards the place the pheasant landed.

I didn’t really expect anything to come of it, but it turned out that luck was on our side that day. It was a fair walk, because when a pheasant finally gets off the ground it’s as if it wants to get a good flight out of it, having made the effort.

A pheasant is a fowl with a large chest, so it requires a lot of beating of wings to get off the ground.


When you walk along staring at a particular place, you don’t see where you are putting your feet. Your hearts beats hopefully and in anticipation as the dog trots ahead, ignorant of the bliss the hunt is about to bring. Young and inexperienced, followed by the experienced hunter, with boots full of marsh water.

Soon after reaching the spot, the young dog raises its snout. She stands still a moment, wagging the tip of her tail. It seems that we have been lucky this day, and we talk about this as we slowly walk forward. She now lowers her snout and trots faster, and a few meters away the male pheasant erupts from the cover with all the usual cacophony. I bring down the bird. The dog runs over and sniffs at it. She looks up at me and says, “look what I found – do you know what this is?”

Afterwards I thought to myself that this is no everyday bird, even though there are large populations of them in many areas. Pheasant hunting and the pheasant, being the royal decorative bird it once was, connects us with history. Now we can all feel a bit like kings and queens for a moment – at least you do as you sit in the grass with your young dog and let the impressions sink in.

You can clearly sense that the dog is not interested in this ‘settling down’, it wants to do it again – quickly! We have to find more! You feel that way yourself, but you know that too much eagerness is not good for pheasant hunting, and the dog’s ongoing training. No, it’s better to go home and be happy to have had the experience! The demands are tough – even for an experienced hunter!

 

Troels Pedersen

Troels Pedersen
40 year old hunter, musician and author from Denmark
Started hunting in 1999
Favourite quarry: Woodcock
Choice of weapon: Henry Atkin 12/70

Best hunting trip:
On 2 November 2016, as I walked with two good friends in undulating terrain among tall pine trees. My dog was searching energetically among the small mossy rises when two woodcocks suddenly took flight together. I still remember the breath catching in my chest when woodcock number two also collapsed in the air. It was as if they both hung there a moment after they were hit before they dropped majestically in a clearing. My dog retrieved them both.

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