Whether you’re an experienced Gun or new to pheasant shooting, there are ways you can improve your shooting and bag more pheasants. These pheasant shooting tips will ensure you’re prepared for the field when the new season comes around.
Understand the different breeds
If you know what breed of pheasant you’re shooting, you’ve got a head start.
Different breeds have exhibit different behaviours, flight patterns and speed, and act differently in certain weather conditions.
Knowing this gives you a better idea of the bird’s flight on the day, helping you accurately hit the target.
Work out where the wind is
When you get to your peg, the first thing to do is check which way the wind’s blowing.
A backwind or crosswind can drastically change your shot and the bird’s flight. For example, the popular Polish Bazanty pheasant is tough to hit when there are crosswinds because it’s a strong flier that effortlessly shifts and slides.
If you can adjust for the breeze, you’ll land more shots. Taking a powder with you is a quick and accurate way of checking the wind direction.
Get your footwork right
Good footwork improves your balance and control, which ultimately create a more accurate shot. Where you move your feet should depend on the bird’s movements. Always keep an eye on the bird, shift your feet according to its flight and then mount the gun.
You should never mount the gun whilst moving as this will affect the precision of your shot. Whilst making the shot, make sure your weight is shifted onto your backfoot to ensure optimum balance.
Mount the gun correctly
Hitting your target is about moving swiftly, smoothly and accurately – so you need to mount the gun properly, in the same place, every time.
Some birds will give you more time to mount than others, but you need to be prepared for the ones that don’t.
Start by choosing your pheasant carefully. Then, move your weight onto your front foot and push the gun towards the chosen bird. Next, bring the butt into your shoulder pocket and the comb underneath your cheek bone. Finally, make the shot.
Remember to follow the bird throughout the whole process – this is crucial to a slick, clean gun-mount.
Practice is key when it comes to this pheasant shooting tip.
Know which shots to take
It’s important to know what you can kill cleanly. There’s nothing worse than thinking you can hit a bird easily and completely missing it or maiming it, which can be very messy. Therefore, it’s vital to establish the distance and height you can shoot from.
For many people, a distance of around 45 yards is a good limit. Any further and it gets a bit tricky.
In terms of height, you shouldn’t hit a bird that’s too low, as this could end up wounding or smashing the bird. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t be shooting pheasants below approximately 20-25 metres. After all, it’s not target practice – you’re shooting to kill.
Take the pheasant early
With certain other birds, you want to take them as they pass you. With the pheasant, though, unless they’re extremely high, you want to hit them early in front.
You should aim to hit the pheasant at the 45-70-degree mark. This way, you’re more likely to hit it (in the head and neck too) and if you don’t, you have time for a controlled second shot before it passes.
Use the right cartridges
Pheasants are more difficult to hit cleanly as the season goes on. Increasing the shot size is useful later in the season, when the birds are relatively older and stronger.
You might want to start off at a 30gm 6-shot up to Christmas, then increase it to a heavier 32gm 5-shot after that. As well as the right cartridges, it’s important to wrap up warm in the cold winter months with the right shooting clothing.
Practice makes perfect
Well, maybe not perfect, but it’ll definitely help you improve. Practising under pheasant towers is a great way to hone your shooting skills, as it replicates scenarios out in the field.
It’s useful to vary your approach to shooting towers, such as shooting from 25 yards and 40 yards, so you get the hang of different ranges. A web search of ‘pheasant tower shoot near me’ will pull up the closest places for you to do it. Then, once you feel ready, you will be ready to go on a pheasant shoot at one of the many top pheasant shooting locations in the UK.
Specialist shooting insurance from Ripe Shooting
On top of these pheasant shooting tips, make sure you have the right insurance to protect yourself if you injure someone, yourself or damage your equipment.
Ripe Shooting provide specialist shooting insurance. This insurance includes up to £10m of Public Liability cover and up to £50,000 of Personal Accident cover.