Bird hunting is rapidly gaining popularity among hunters, likely due to the amount of variation it offers. Whether pursuing turkeys, ducks, grouse, quail, chukar or one of the hundreds of other types of game birds, this is a sport that has something for everyone. So you’re ready to give bird hunting a try and maximize the birds you bag, how do you ensure that at the end of the day you’re the one going home with the most birds? Follow these tips and techniques to bag some game birds:
Many bird shooters practice shooting well before their favorite season by using clay pigeons. Clay shooting can help shooters learn valuable skills, like making sure they are shouldering their shotgun correctly and following through with each shot taken. Shot placement and shooting angles can be improved and practiced, teaching where to shoot a rising bird, where to shoot a falling bird and showing shooters how to shoot at various angles they might see in the field. This practice is valuable and can also improve shot accuracy and reloading time. This type of practice can also help you learn how to react to birds flushing. Learn how to breathe, how to track them in flight, how to position the gun to be best prepared for the real thing. Being a better shooter will result in fewer missed shots, meaning more birds will be coming home with you.
Learn all you can about the birds you plan on pursuing. Learn what they eat, where they hide and where you’ll be most likely to be successful. Figure out when they’ll be in certain areas. If you know whether your bird is more likely to be found in a marshy area, a dry creek bed or in a grain field will surely save you some time and frustration because there is nothing worse than being in the wrong place at the wrong time with no game. Learn the lay of the land you’ll be hunting in. Find potential hiding places to exploit and explore during the hunt.
Get a good bird dog
Trying to flush birds out can be a frustrating experience. Sometimes they won’t leave their hiding areas, but instead will stay put trying to avoid detection. Other times, we just don’t see them. A well trained dog can work in conjunction around the hunter, helping to find and flush birds that might otherwise be missed. Dogs are also helpful in retrieval of downed birds, using their keen sense of smell they can track birds that hunters might have lost or not be able to see.
Clothing, not optional
Clothing decisions for hunting day are essential. When flying, birds are more likely to be able to spot a potential threat. Wear clothes that blend with the environment you’ll be hunting in, making it more difficult for the birds to spot you.
If you’re hunting a bird that responds to decoys, learn proper placement. Decoys can attract birds, giving you a great opportunity at a shot, but you want them to look natural, like they would if they were a real flock.
Learn what shotgun type you should use when hunting your type of bird. Some situations may call for 12 gauge, 16, 20 or even the rare 10; make sure you’re properly armed for your game type.
So you’re in the field, your dog has just flushed your species and you’re preparing for your shot…what now? This is where all the preseason practice comes in.
Properly mount the gun and make the shot – Swing the muzzle of the shotgun towards the target while mounting in one swift motion. Keep your eyes on the target, head still, and bring the stock to your face. Keep the muzzle below the line of flight, never obscuring your view of the bird and allowing you to see any moves they make. Match the speed of the bird and fire. Remember shotguns have a spread pattern, giving you a fair margin of error.
Also remember to watch birds until you cannot see them anymore. Birds can be very tough and may react as if they aren’t hit. Just because you think the shot missed, doesn’t mean it did. If you don’t break a wing, they could potentially gain altitude, or fly some distance before falling. Pull the trigger and watch, you might be surprised when that bird you “missed” piles up a couple hundred yards away.
Bird hunting can be a fun and exciting outdoor adventure. To maximize your efficiency and bring the most birds home, be prepared. Practice makes perfect and it might take years to be a good bird hunter, the guy who brings home the most birds each time. Use some of these tips and hopefully you’ll be well on your way. Do you have ideas on how to get the most birds? Have any tips to help other bird hunters? Leave a comment below and let us know! Thanks for reading.