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Role Based Pheasant Hunting in South Dakota

By: Chris Hitzeman
UGUIDE South Dakota Pheasant Hunting

When the birds are laughing at you - Get your game on!

If you're like me, you've had your share of watching skitish pheasants evade your pursuit from a waaaaay to far away vantage point than you care for. After putting up the cost of gas, license, shells, dogs, food, guns and gear, you might start to get a little agitated if you actually want to see some birds go into the game bag.

Well it can be argued what fair chase is and isn't but when it comes to crunch time it is nice to have "Plan B" in your back pocket, especially if you are hunting South Dakota native wild pheasants. What difference does that make your say? Good question. South Dakota pheasants just get hunted harder than any other game bird in any other part of the country. If you got a 2 year old bird that survived last season and he is out in front of your hunting group, you my friend, are dealing with a PH.D. rooster my friends. YOU NEED A PLAN!

Enter Role Based Pheasant Hunting. I'll agree that wandering aimlessly on a sunny October afternoon with your favortie 4 legged friend ranks mighty high on my list of favorite things to do. But when you start dealing with birds in the 100's that have been hunted and are WILD, that walk in the park will turn into a nightmare in short order.

So give this a try. Separate your group into volunteers that want to assume 1 of 3 roles: Walker, Blocker or Flanker. The goal of each of these roles is this: Walker - generally this is always the guys with the dogs and anyone else that enjoys walking. Blocker - these guys always deliver the walkers and flankers to their positions before heading down to the other end of field to assume their posting position. These could be elderly folks that can't walk like they used to or anyone else that wishes to block. These guys always run the vehicles and efficiently manage getting the hunters from one spot to the next. Flankers - these guys might be the younger more fleet of foot hunters in your group. These guys cover the gaps between walkers and blockers and generally start out with the walkers. These guys need to be able to close a gap where birds begin leaking out between walkers and blockers.

Lets use an example hunt consisting of a piece of cover about the size of a football field only that it is 2 to 3 times longer than one field. If you had a group of 6 I would suggest that 2 walk, 2 flank and 2 block. If you have 10 I would add 2 more blockers and 2 more walkers. Or, depending on how the birds are reacting you could add 2 more flankers outside your existing flankers and then add 1 more walker/blocker each.

It is the walkers job to keep the birds in front of them and moving towards the blockers. They must control speed to insure that are not walking over birds. The flankers job is to stay postioned 100 yards up and 100 yards out to side from where the walkers are on outside edges of cover. The blockers should surround the end of the cover you are hunting and if you have the manpower I would suggest your outside blockers could also behave like reverse flankers getting up and out 100 yards or so from the nearest end blocker.

Once the hunt begins everyone needs to know what their impact is on the cover your are hunting. Flankers need to adjust gaps in order to pin birds down so the walkers and dogs can work them up. When wild birds feel surrounded they will hold. If they detect gaps they will expose them and you will watch them fly off unscathed into the sunset.

So in groups of 4-12 you can determine what roles need to be staffed and adjust accordingly. Groups of 6-10 are the ideal group sizes for most hunting situation in South Dakota.

Check availability of self-guided pheasant hunts in South Dakota here