Two other fruitful areas for pheasant-hunting are Aberdeen, about a five-hour drive southwest of Estelline, and Chamberlain, between two and a half and three hours to the northwest. Chamberlain has half the population of Estelline distributed over nearly three times the area, for a population density of 360/square mile. Aberdeen, another micropolitan statistical area, has a population density of 1,700/square mile.
Part of the Golden Triangle of pheasant-hunting, Chamberlain is located on the Missouri River. Brood counts here have averaged close to 16 per square mile during the decade leading up to 2014. This is twice the average for the state as a whole. The area around Aberdeen has around 200,000 acres of land available to the public for tracking down these birds. Hunters here can average nearly nine birds per season in a good year.
Pheasants have pronounced sexual dimorphism, with the males highly colored and exhibiting distinctive features such as long tails and wattles. The family name for these birds is Phasianidae. They breed happily in captivity and settle in happily in a variety of climates.
Shooting pheasants is both fun and good exercise. It is a good idea to practice shooting before you hit the wilderness. Skeet shooting makes for good practice aiming your gun ahead of your moving target. An important safety practice is to not pull the trigger until the bird has flown above the height of human.
There is a lot of schlepping up and down hills in this sport and you often have to trudge through marshes. Make sure your constitution is up to it. When sticking together in groups, hunters will walk in a single, horizontal, row to guard against accidentally shooting one another.
For an enhanced experience, take a good hunting dog with you. Different breeds have different talents. If you want an animal who will flush the birds out of the brush for you, go for a spaniel or a retriever. If you prefer to do the flushing yourself, but want a companion who will point to the birds for you, then you are better off with a continental breed, such as a Brittany, a GSP or a GWP.
An extra perk to wearing yourself out and getting sopping wet is the possibility that you will bring home a little something for the dinner table. Slowly roast it, perhaps with juniper berries, and serve alongside a jug of old-fashioned bread sauce.
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