Rooster!!! I think?
In North Dakota, some of our hunting seasons are underway. I have been out several times thus far chasing sharp-tailed grouse and doves, and thought I would share some observations as pheasant season approaches. We all know the importance of identifying your target before you shoot, and early in the season some of the game birds we are after look similar in dim daylight hours or cloudy days. For example, I took a good friend of mine out grouse hunting and he wasn’t sure the difference between a grouse and a hen pheasant, as he had never sharp-tailed before. I have known some folks (myself not included) who accidently shot a hen pheasant thinking that it was a grouse. My friend did not make this mistake and after we flushed a few coveys he could easily tell the difference.
The reason I bring up this topic is that early in the pheasant season, there are still several immature birds out there that are difficult to judge the sex and sometimes species. A hen pheasant’s first nesting attempt is not always successful, and she may need to make two or even three attempts before she is successful in raising a brood. On last year’s opener, my Lab flushed a rooster so young it actually chirped instead of cackling. It also had none of the colors of an adult rooster.
So, as you take to the field this fall, be sure to take the time to exactly identify the bird before you pull the trigger. Especially when you are taking out a new or young hunter, show them the characteristics of each bird and what they may expect as the season opens. If you are not sure, don’t pull the trigger. There is plenty of time for other opportunities and we need to be responsible hunters to show the next generation the right way to preserve the sport we love.
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