As human beings, we all need to spend some time enjoying nature. The great outdoors can bring our senses back, clear our minds, and allow us to shed anxiety and worry. Bird hunting is one of the most exciting and gratifying sports there is. Those who have been bird hunting are familiar with the level of enjoyment and peace that the sport brings.
Bird hunting, as the name indicates, is the hunting of birds. And, because bird hunting is the hunting of birds, there are several species of birds that enthusiasts hunt. These variations of bird species require specific weapon(s), ammo, clothing, calling device, season for hunting, area (state or region), method for retrieval, and vantage point. Because of the specifications necessary for the various types of bird hunting, each have their own following of sportsmen. Many times, once a hunter finds a bird species they enjoy hunting more than the others, they do not go back. In other situations, some sportsmen hunt birds all year round and in different areas of the country. The different bird species and their specifications for hunting are:
Dove – These beautiful and dainty birds are found all over the United States and parts of Southern Canada. The most common of these species are: Rock Pigeon, White-Crowned Pigeon, Band-Tailed Pigeon, Red-Billed Pigeon, Barbary Dove, Spotted Dove, European Collared Dove, Mourning Dove, Passenger Pigeon, White-Winged Dove, Common Ground Dove, Inca Dove, Ruby Ground Dove, and the White-Tipped Dove. Most Doves are found in grassy areas where grain-type crops exist. In addition to agricultural fields, Doves like to hang out in sand bars and quarries to drink. Unlike other game, Doves are very smart and can spot a hunter from the air before the hunter even knows they are there. This is why it is essential to wear camo clothing and limit movement. Successful dove hunting also includes the use of decoys that can be purchased at any sporting good store.
Duck/Geese – Ducks and Geese are migratory birds that are found in many of the Northern states but adapt to areas when previous locations become industrialized. Some of the more common species of duck include: Blue-Winged Ducks, Green-Winged Ducks, Teal-Winged Ducks, Mallards, Pintails, Widgeon Ducks, Canvass Backs, and Gadwall Ducks. When hunting Ducks and/or Geese, it is essential to listen for quacking to locate the spot where the birds are located. Ducks and Geese are usually not afraid of humans at a distance and make or one of the easiest game to tag. And, since these are water birds, it is sometimes necessary to have a dog like a Labrador with you to fetch the game after shooting it down.
Pheasant – The Pheasant is found in most states in the U.S. Pheasants are common to grassy marshes and wetlands. More specifically, Pheasants can be found in cattail marshes, wetland fringes, stream corridors, drainage and roadside ditches, brush-filled fence lines, and abandoned crop fields. Most areas allow Pheasant hunting at the end of summer. When hunting for Pheasant, like many other bird species, it is best to canvas the area first before setting up. Pheasants should never be shot at close range but rather from a vantage point of at least 20 yards or more. Also, it is essential to take your time in the shot because Pheasants can get up and fly at any time. If you miss your first shot, you will not get another.
Grouse/Partridge/Quail – Technically, the Partridge and Quail are birds of the Grouse family and many times, a Partridge is just the fancy name for a Quail. These elusive birds are most commonly found in Canada and in parts of the United States (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Virginia, and Utah). Common species of Grouse include: Ruffed Grouse, Sage Grouse, and Spruce Grouse. The more common types of Partridges are: Hungarian Partridge, and the Chukar Partridge. The Quail family include: Scaled Quail, Bobwhite Quail, Mearn’s Quail, California Quail, and Gambel’s Quail. These birds are tough to hunt because they can take a hit and keep flying before they fall down. Therefore, it is always shoot to kill. And, when hunting this type of bird, it is always important to have a bird dog with you to retrieve the game.
Bird hunting is exciting and peaceful. Hunters usually take comfort in relaxing with their best friends – their dogs. When out there, a bird hunter is one with nature and can clear his/her head while patiently waiting for the perfect bird and the perfect time to shoot. However, when bird hunting, it is essential to bring the right equipment and practice safety at all times. Any type of hunting, when safety measures are not in place, can be dangerous to yourself as well as other hunters.