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Shut Up and Hunt

Keeping quiet when you leave the truck can help put more birds in your bag.

Earlier this week, I was chatting with television host and wingshooting legend Scott Linden.  As tends to happen when two dyed-in-the-wool bird hunters gather, we traded stories about our early season upland observations, used hyperbole to extoll the virtues of our bird dogs and shared a few laughs.


While I can’t remember Scott’s exact phraseology or the topic’s genesis, I do recall the main point of his observation: hunters would shoot a lot more birds if they learned how to be quiet in the field.


We’ve all read the tips and tricks about not slamming truck doors at the parking area of a WMA, but do you actually practice the habit of being quiet when leaving your vehicle for a hunt?  From my observations, most folks don’t.


In the same vein, do you figure out your hunting game plan when you’re still in the truck or do you chat about the directions everyone is going to walk after uncasing the shotguns, collaring up the dogs and joking around at the tailgate?


Don’t get me wrong, I understand the camaraderie of a tailgate.  But, I’ve also had my ear chewed off as a Pheasants Forever representative at sport shows with the same refrain . . . “there are no birds on public land.”  Well, you may not believe me, but I can promise you there are roosters out there.  They’ve just been running for their lives since opening morning and have wised up to how the game works.  They hear you slam the truck door.  They hear the laughter about last night’s hijinks at the tavern and they know you’re going to walk the path through the grass beaten down by the previous morning’s group.


Do you save your tailgate chatter for after the hunt? You should.

For a change of pace, give quiet a try this pheasant season.  You may find more birds and you may also find a little peace in a world of noise.  Give it a shot . . . shut up and hunt.


The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.




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4 Responses to “Shut Up and Hunt”

  1. Tony Barlow says:

    NO doubt Bob! The other big one for me is communicating with your dog. People hollering, whistling, clapping, etc at their dog is terrible. I know because I learned from experience. Most of the time my dog and I communicate via the beeper in her collar. When I need her to check in with me, I give her a beep and she comes back to me and checks in. When we made that transition our success improved greatly. After hunting like that for a few years, I wonder how I ever did it any other way. Good post!

  2. Terry Ruch says:

    When bringing a new hunter along on a trip, who says he has a great dog he wants to bring, I always ask; “Do you yell and whistle at your dog?” If he hesitates, I say, “For this first outing together, let’s use mine.”

    I beep my dog, if he starts to range, and he comes right back. I also lecture the group about yelling, telling jokes across the field, slamming doors, operating shotgun actions loudly, etc… When the new guys forget, I am quick to ask when we get back to the vehicle, “Did you see those birds flush 200 yards ahead of us? Did you notice that happened about 30 seconds after you guys were having a high time talking in the field?” Then they get it, but usually it takes pointing it out to them to get them to believe noise ruins an otherwise good drive. At first they don’t like the quiet rule when they hunt with me, if they are “social” hunters and used to yacking in the field. After we limit out, they feel like bird hunting studs and feel like it was worth it.

  3. Chris Madson says:

    The quiet discipline should definitely continue into the cover. I’m a fan of conversation, but can’t we save it for the cafe at lunch? If we’re just out for a morning stroll and a chat, I can leave the gun and shells back at the truck. Saves ten or twelve pounds and leaves my hands free to augment my infinitely entertaining anecdotes with gestures. I guess I’ve spent too many long days on death marches, hoping to get one good chance at a rooster. Most of the time, hunting pheasants is a lot like hunting elk, a contest of endurance and discipline against a talented, highly experienced adversary. I do whatever I can to tip the odds in my favor, and some days, that’s still not enough. I guess this is one reason I like to hunt alone or with one partner. Disturbance goes up as the square of the number in the party.


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