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I remember back in the 60's and into the 80's when I could find wild pheasants and quail in a few places in New Jersey. When I started hunting eastern central Pa., there were a lot of wild pheasants. That was then, if you want to strictly hunt wild birds north of the Mason Dixon line and have a good dog, it is not going to happen.

Remember, the more birds your dogs sees the better he gets. And as trebling stated, "they're gone.


David


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Pooch get a dog. I gave my father a Golden and he is 90. I hope he out lives this one but the odds are in the dogs favor. A loved and well mannered dog will be much easier to place than anything other than money. Rest assured that those left behind by you will find a good home for you dog. The hundreds of hours of companionship that a dog and man will give each other is not to be underestimated. For both the dog and man it is priceless. Get a dog if you still can.

As to pen raised birds I find they fill an important niche and not just for dogs. If your health is such that long outings are too much, and we all get there if we live long enough, a carefully planed hunt over raised birds allows you to hunt and watch good dog work. And I love to watch a dog hunt. The energy and intensity that a good dog displays warms my heart. Shooting the birds then is more for the dog than the man. It is a man and dog team work thing. I have been as proud of some of my dog work as I have been of my kids. Some of my dogs have almost been my kids.

The second reason to hunt pen raised birds is to have birds for kids to shoot while they are learning. Nothing will kill a future hunter faster than going and never seeing many birds or never hitting any of the few that they do see. Such is how golfers are born.

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I'm not intending to throw rocks at you folks hunting preserve birds as I plan to be joining you shortly. Here in Texas we have wide open spaces you can walk in one direction for hours. Lots of neat bushes, structures and rocks to see. I'd try to get the dogs to water every hour, they would swim and I would loaf.

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Originally Posted By: treblig1958
Pooch, like Larry said, hunt the pen raised pheasant and chukar they fly hard and fast. Granted, there is nothing like wild birds but those days are gone for most of us, and like they said about all the great jobs around here in the steel mills, "They're gone boys and they ain't coming back"


Also, to me the pen-raised chukars taste better than pheasants. That said, my daughter was in for a visit recently and took me out to an upscale restaurant in West Austin, Hudson's on the Bend, that had a pheasant entrée that was incredible!
Steve


Approach life like you do a yellow light - RUN IT! (Gail T.)
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I hunted phez, chukar, and quail on a very large preserve in NYS for about 20 years. Early on I did the planted bird, and/or tower followup, routine. Afterwards we never put out birds, and hunted the scratch birds in cover the weekenders did not want to go through. And the dogs won't be working "trails" cuz there are none in such places.

Those possessing little or no experience with preserves typically denigrate them. There is a grain of truth - if you put out beach balls and walk them up 20 minutes later you should not expect fast runners and fliers. A phez that's been out more than a few weeks gets pretty savvy. It doesn't take years - or generations - popular myths to the contrary. I think chukar get smart even faster than that.

Preserves offer some flexibility, once you know the preserve and have learned to think with your "bird-brain". If you want a sporting outing with a Model 42, or just wish to host some relative newbies, you can certainly have it. You can also spend the day covering miles to run that one rooster the dogs have been chasing for over an hour. And you can do this stuff from October 1 to April. One blustery day I shot about a dozen phez, with the closest opportunity at 35 yds. I used every bit of a 16 ga M-12 full, and the B&Ps in #5, that day.

When I hosted guys who hunted wild ones out west they mostly said they saw no difference in bird toughness (talking scratch birds), though the judged shot opportunities as a bit closer. Makes sense. That may have been somewhat related to the time of year we were out, too.

Sam

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The larger pen raised birds have some survival capability and seem to survive long enough to learn how to fly. This is not the case with the poor little pen raised quail who needs numbers to survive and seldom lasts a few days in the wild.

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I don't think it's automatic that a pen raised bird can't fly like other folks have mentioned some are better than others. If you're getting into preserve use, one thing you might notice is that in business, you'll get a whole lot more bang for your buck with those poor little quail rather than bigger birds.

Also, I had the chance to hunt a bunch of bobwhites just a little down the road from you in central Texas. When it was off season training time, I wanted to use the same bird that we hunted for real. When we headed to the midwest for pheasant, I wanted to help the pup switch gears and tune up on that bird right before the trips, and I can say it was worth it.

You just can't extend the wild bird season legally, and it doesn't make sense to me to give up a convenient training option and just hope for the best. There were many times though the the dog gets thrown into a new situation and has to figure it out, their instincts shine a whole lot better with practice.

Last edited by craigd; 06/03/13 09:58 AM.
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The place I go to has surrogated quail on the property, and the pen raised released birds he puts out to supplement numbers get in with the previously released "wild" coveys and hang around. He has even found some natural reproduction on the property.

He said the pheasants will hang around a few weeks, but either get eaten or leave the property before too long, and the chukars don't even usually make it overnight.

I have hunted pheasants there when we didn't stock any quail and flushed several coveys of 25+ birds.

CHAZ



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Most preserves aren't big enough that you can hunt for hours, without going over the same ground repeatedly. They're typically divided into several fields, with different groups assigned to each field. If you're hunting scratch birds during the week rather than on the weekend, then it's possible that you might be able to have the run of the place and work to hunt the more wild-like survivors.

I've hunted a place in Missouri where they do mass releases well in advance of hunts. Talking quail here. There are feeders, and the birds are MUCH better than just-released bobs. I also hunted Wild Wing in Kentucky a few years ago. It was a "no limit" place (and they meant it), with electronic call birds, covey base camps, etc. Those birds were as close to the real thing as I've ever seen. The only difference was that numbers were so high, it was like TX in one of those years you could expect 25-30 covey days. (Will we ever see those again?)

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I grew up in South Georgia hunting wild birds. I could go around the woods lines on our farm and find a covey about every 300 yards. Those days are gone. Of course , I had rather hunt wild quail. There is nothing like wild birds getting up in your face and all flying together in one direction in maybe one or two waves. Its easy to get a double or triple because they are generally all flying in the same direction. Released birds will go in as many different directions as there are birds. Wild birds are also easier for me to hit because they fly hard and fast and require a fast swing which I do better than having to wait on released birds.

The reason we shoot released birds is because the wild birds are not available. Fortunately, I get to shoot a few wild birds each year. Typically, I will hunt wild birds for a while and then go shoot the released birds. There are two keys to good released bird hunting. One is getting good birds from a reputable producer and the other is using a flushing dog to make the birds fly. After raising a family in Atlanta I moved back to South Georgia to bird hunt and for the last 20 years I have bird hunted one or two days a week during the season. So I have killed many wild birds and tons of released birds. Being an old South Georgia boy bird hunting is not bird hunting unless it is behind an English Setter or English Pointer, preferably a Riprap (black and white English Pointer). You put the birds out the easiest way. Have someone drive the truck and thrown out 5 to ten at a time at least 300 yards apart. My flushing dog is an English Pointer that in years past I would not have keep. But he is perfect with my other steady dogs because after holding the point for awhile he will push the birds and that combination is about as good as you can do today. When I first moved back to bird hunt I had the birddog of a lifetime, Prince did everything well and on my command would push the birds for me and yet hold the next point until I released him again. Heaven won't be heaven without a Prince there.

I hear people say how much easier it is to kill released birds than wild birds. If you don't shoot well, that may be true, but in my experience it takes less to knock down the smaller wild bird than the larger released bird. A released bird can carry off more shot and die unfound later. Also, my poor swing does better with the fast birds that require shooting before they are behind a tree or bushes. I shoot a 28 gauge side by side and sometimes a 410 or twenty side by side. My gun of choice is the 28 gauge because I like a light weight gun. In my early years it was a 870 Wingmaster pump sixteen gauge or a Browning sweet sixteen. But today it seems unfair to shoot quail with more than a 28 gauge and two shots.

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