Snow is your best friend
By Keng Yang
Your goal when hunting should always be to bag a limit of roosters. Many people will disagree with this, as we each have our own reasons for being out. However, you as an adult-onset hunter should make it your goal to bag a limit. Why? It will make you a smarter and better hunter. Experience is what makes a hunter and a bird dog. Here are some of my tips for finding roosters in the mid-late season. I hope it will bring you some success and a bag full of birds.
Snow is your best friend. There are two pheasant openers in the Midwest. That’s the legal calendar date and the first snow day. Snow makes it incredibly easy to find roosters, especially young of the year birds. Not only does it confuse the birds, causing them to sit tighter, it eliminates cover for them. This pushes them to find denser cover and warm thermal areas. Sometimes my home state of Minnesota gets snow in the upper part of the state first. You can bet that I’ll be in that area hunting and following that snowline to chase roosters.
Secondly, there are certain things to look for when it snows. Snow creates great scenting conditions for your dog. When you see your dog tracking, be sure to look for pheasant footprints. You should be looking to see if tracks are fresh, and how dense the tracks are. If you find an area with heavy tracks, which will usually be cattails or wind buffers, be sure to mark that spot so you can come back another day. Roosters are a creature of habit, more likely than not they will return to roost in that spot. It’s important to remember even though you may not find birds in an area, it doesn’t mean that they will be there tomorrow.
Someone may have already flushed them out before you. That’s the next thing you should be looking for. When pulling into a parking spot, look down to see if there are any fresh car and foot tracks. If so, it may be better to try a different spot. Although if it’s a productive spot, it doesn’t hurt to hunt after another hunter.
Let’s say there’s no snow where you’re hunting, what’s the best way to find these wily roosters? Find thick dense cover and target those areas in the field first. Not just that, but you should be blocking birds from flying over to private land too. How does one block birds from going to private land? When working a field, if you notice that there is better cover butting up to private land, you should target that area first so that incase you find birds, the birds move towards public land. One can’t predict where a bird is going to fly, but pushing birds in a certain direction will increase your odds for a bagged bird.
These are just some of the tips that I hope will bring you success when chasing those mid-late season roosters. Remember there is no right or wrong way to hunt. It takes experience to make you a better hunter. What you see and learn today might be different years from now. As you continue your upland journey, remember to take notes on each of your hunts. Where you walked in the field and where you encountered birds, so later you can look back and reflect. Have courage, perseverance and most importantly, chase your limit!
Keng Yang is an adult-onset hunter, mentor, Pheasants Forever member, and diehard upland bird hunter. Follow him on TikTok @minnesotahunter and on Instagram @kengyang1.
As part of our mission, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever work hard to recruit, retain, and reactivate (R3) new hunters that will become tomorrow’s conservationists. But getting started in upland bird hunting presents a unique set of questions and challenges. Our Path to the Uplands initiatives and Hunter Mentor Pledge create educational and hands-on opportunities for both mentors and mentees to share our beloved outdoors lifestyle and learn about our conservation ethic.
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