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I was thinking of taking my son on a pheasant hunt at a preserve but don’t know what to expect. I’ll be bringing my own dog. Do the birds generally hold pretty tight? And what about tipping. I know you normally tip a guide, but seeing I won’t be using one, do I tip the guy setting the birds? Can anyone share their experiences.
 

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I was thinking of taking my son on a pheasant hunt at a preserve but don’t know what to expect. I’ll be bringing my own dog. Do the birds generally hold pretty tight? And what about tipping. I know you normally tip a guide, but seeing I won’t be using one, do I tip the guy setting the birds? Can anyone share their experiences.

In my experience, the roosters run and hens hold especially the closer you get to spring breeding season. Ask how they are plant the birds, if they dizzy them or just tuck head and stuff into cover. These are the best for pointing breeds to track down. Some just drive out into field and cut the birds loose (worst case scenario) as birds will have a big lead on you and usually head for the hills(i.e. woodlots and fly up into the trees. They usually put out a 50/50 mix unless you specify otherwise and pay more for all roosters. I always have them put the birds out in waves. If we paid for 18 birds say maybe 2 waves of 9 each depending on size of field and number of guys. Cover is a big deal to the birds holding and staying in the field that they are planted in. Call ahead and ask about cover and how big the field is you are hunting. I like areas that plant sorghum along with thick grasses and mix in corn on the edges. Their cover can get beat down pretty bad if we get heavy snowfall, but sorghum and corn usually hold up better later in the season. Hope this helps..i go a couple times of year when family comes into town that otherwise can get up in the grouse woods. Its a fun time and you and the pup will get plenty of exercise. PM me if you want suggestions on farms...i am down in SE Michigan, so i dont know what your options are in the NE. Cherry Creek farms possibly...but im sure they are pricey...we usually get 6 birds for $125 down here and tip is optional where i go, but is appreciated by the guy planting...its a family run business where i go so the guy planting is the owner, so tip isn't always necessary imo. I also use my own dogs if you didn't guess that from my screen name...lol
 

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If you are using your own dog, then I wouldn't tip......your paying for the use of the fields and the birds. If I am using their dogs/handler, then I tip the handler. As previously said, cover is important, as well as how the birds are planted. I've hunted preserves where the cover was so thick that you couldn't walk through it (nor could the dog), and cover so bare that you could see the bird sitting in the open......neither is good. I don't like corn fields, esp big cornfields......the birds can run circles around you and will flush far out if pushed too hard; I prefer sorghum or grasses. I also use a slightly heavier load, esp. this time of year.....if the birds have been fed well, they can have more fat & feathers on them then a wild bird, so I use a larger shot size (#5 or #4) and a heavier load (1 1/4 oz to 1 3/8 oz) to help penetrate those extra layers. Tighter chokes don't hurt, either....esp. if the birds flush out farther than expected. Earlier in the season, I tend to use a 1 1/8 oz load of #6 or #5 shot. You will find that, if you hunt enough preserves, you will find those that you like, those that are just so/so, and those you prefer not to use......for various reasons. I like a preserve with a mix of fields and some natural cover (creek bottoms, small woodlots), but that's just me. Best of luck, have fun, and post some photos after the hunt!
 

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Good responses so far. One area that is never broached in the discussion of preserve hunting.
Is that when birds are released or planted it is the first time they have ever been outside the confines of the pen. Pheasants are raised in large flocks and even though some effort is made to raise them in some kind of cover that cover is destroyed very quickly. Destruction of the pen cover comes from weather wind and the birds themselves. When they are usually planted or release they are all alone. Generally a good club will try to spread the release out over the area that the customer and his part will be hunting. "Running" is a defensive behavior that birds use to try familiarize them self with their new found environment and to fine their "mates". Row crops of any sort, corn sorghum Sudan grass give the birds ally ways to move about and scurry.
Level cover has always been my favorite. Brome,switch and most types of natural set aside cover initially in the season it gives the birds limited ally ways to escape and run about. However it has a very short shelf life depending weather.
Weather the day of the hunt can also be a very important factor. Birds tend to hold much better a couple of days before the arrival of a cold front..Pre-cold front is best, usually cloudy and not as windy. Cloud cover is a good thing. What general takes place after the front passes through conditions change, it is usually windy washed out skies, blue bird days, cover drys out and rattles in the wind just this alone is enough to keep birds on the move. Sorghum and corn are especially noisy in the wind
The old adage in this game is "When you turn the birds loose no one really can tell before hand what is going to happen"
Have Fun! Hunt Safe! No $20-25 pheasant is worth hunter or dogs safety

Hal
 

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If your looking to strictly hunt pheasant and want to expose your dog to them go for it. We do not hunt pheasants we do hunt woodcock and grouse and you can get more birds in the field by going with chukar or quail.
 

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I wont get into what it would be like running your dog on pen raised pheasant or chukar because I simply would second what the gentlemen have said above.

For tipping, I'll weigh in that when we go we usually give the guide around 20%, and we bring our own dogs. I don't quite agree with the concept somebody mentioned above to only tip when a guide brings their own dog. The way I see it, that is free bird work for the guide's dogs and is actually a benefit when they can run their dogs. I think guides get paid pretty meagerly, and are out there working for tips regardless whether they're running their dogs or not.
 

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I was thinking of taking my son on a pheasant hunt at a preserve but don’t know what to expect.
Expect to have a blast!

Seriously.... Don't think any longer, just do it. You're son and dog will have a great time. They probably won't even know the birds aren't really wild.

I started my new dog out on a couple preserve hunts and she took to it so well, that we are now going after wild birds with great success.

Most preserve operators will be very accommodating to your wants and wishes. They will work with you to give you whatever type of hunt/experience you want. Call them up and tell them its your first time with a new dog and they will take that into account as far as the type of cover they put you in.

Since you are using your own dog, you won't have to pay any guide or handler fees, or be required to tip a handler. You tell them how many birds you want them to plant and when you get there, they will plant the birds while you get ready for the hunt. You'll just have to pay for the birds you have them plant. Most preserves will also offer to clean your birds for a fee too. Say $3-$5 a bird to have them breasted or processed whole. So if you have them clean 10 birds, it might cost you and extra $30 or so, otherwise you can always clean your own birds for free.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks everyone for your advice. I booked a hunt at Fasan Jager in Midland County. I’m giving it to my son as a Christmas present/going away present. We are going a few days before he ships out for Marine Corp Boot Camp. So it should be some special father/son time.
 

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I would have gone with a European Tower Hunt and then used your dog after lunch on the follow up hunt. This will last 4-6 hours.
Your hunt might be over in an hour or 2.

L & O
 
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