Legendary.  North Dakota’s state slogan holds true in so many different histories, pheasant hunting being one of them.  A seasoned sharptail grouse and duck hunter from the Nebraska Sandhills, I bagged my first pheasant in North Dakota on Saturday the 15th.

My husband Charles is an experienced pheasant hunter, starting in the mid-1990’s heyday of Southeastern Nebraska.  Unfortunately, those days of easy limits are just a memory for us due to years of habitat loss and poor weather.  He took his first pheasant hunting trip to North Dakota six years ago and has been back for one week a year every year since.

Hunting pheasants unguided in North Dakota takes a few key skills:

1) Dogs.  More than once I walked over the top of a pheasant last week and a person alone will typically make them run away.  If you want guaranteed flushes, several good hunting dogs will give you the sign of the birds’ presence and help to put the pressure on them to fly.

Charles, a pheasant limit and our Wirehaired Pointing Griffons

2) Knowledge of behavior and habitat.  Take to brome fields between cropland at first light to “jump the roost” and act as their alarm clock if you are fast enough.  Take a one or two hour break after your roost jump to allow the birds to feed in the cropland.  Locate “loafing grounds”, small areas of dense cover completely surrounded by cropland, such as cattail marshes, creeks or treelines.  Stick to loafing grounds until late afternoon, then switch to duck hunting if you can to allow the pheasants to repopulate their roost fields before dark.

3) Scouting.  You can’t hunt the same fields day after day in good conscience.  North Dakota supplies plenty of hunting opportunities between Waterfowl Production Areas, PLOTS ground (Private Lands Open to Sportsmen), Wildlife Management Areas and unposted ground.  In North Dakota, hunters can legally access private land as long as it is not posted “no hunting/trespassing”.  Accessing private land is a privilege and  hunters need to use their best manners to keep these opportunities available to all of us. (Please read the specific regulations for each of these areas prior to hunting them, written information available at most gas stations.)

This is not the “redcoat march” as a friend of mine calls the South Dakota style of pheasant hunting.  North Dakota is a game of skill best taken on by those wanting a good challenge, yet desire the high chance of finding enough birds for everyone to get their limit.

Good shooting is up to you!

Trip total, mostly courtesy of Charles.