Based on my research on the Internet and embelished by my own experience here are some ideas for successfully hunting pheasants without a dog (or without the mob needed for a drive).
Write-in with your own ideas. Be sure to note whether you hunt wild or stocked birds, the bird season (early, middle or end) that your idea works best in, area of the country and type of cover you hunt.
I hunt in NJ on public land with stocked birds.
1. Here are some ideas from Mike Schoonveld published in Game and Fish Magazine
a. Squeeze Play – Start in the middle of the field and push birds to the corners .The birds may tend to hold rather than run into the open. Beat the brush at the corner heavily to get the pheasant to flush.
b. A variation on this is to divide the field into sections and cover each section by walking in concentric circles. This technique “traps” the bird and forces a flush as your circle tightens.
c. Mike also writes that on public land, hunt afternoons and start in the back fields first and hunt your way back to the car. Makes sense as hunters tend to work from the car out forcing birds away from the roads.
Lynn Burkhead writing in ESPN outdoors suggests:
a. Identifying the convergence of food, cover and loafing areas, then hunt the edges among/between these areas. This reminds me of trout fishing in a stream where you trying to identify the trout lies (feeding, escape, cover). This is a good late season tactic when food is growing short and cover thin. It may also work well in stocked areas after the pheasants have survived the initial onslaught of hunters and have gotten wilder.
b. Lynn also suggests that we keep the birds guessing: which direction you’re going to take, switching corn rows, stopping frequently.
Ken bailey writing for Outdoor Canada reminds us to:
a. Move quickly thru areas with little pheasant holding potential (see suggestions above to ID places where pheasants hang out).
b. Scout for birds from hillsides, either as they move from roosting to feeding areas or as they are flushed by other hunters.
c. When hunting creek bottoms hedge rows etc. and you have a human partner, works opposite ends of the cover and hunt to the middle. No partner, try working a section of the cover and then popping out and circling back into the cover further down the row to halt moving birds.
In stocked areas hunt the non-stocking days. I did this in Southern NJ WMA and found groups of pheasants perched in trees.
Walk slowly and stop often as you would in still hunting for deer.
Heavy snow does play havoc with pheasant hunting. The birds are probably not hanging out in the deep snow but in places where the cover protects them. I don’t know if this applies where you live but with snow on the ground, I’ve found pheasants under conifer trees where the full branches keep the ground under the tree clear of snow. Also, areas where the cover bends over to provide a “roof” under which there isn’t any snow is worth checking out.
Just a thought but with heavy snow, the pheasants may be stressed by the cold and lack of food. If that is the case near you, you might want to step back on the hunting as flushed/missed birds may find it more difficult to survive (fatigue/loss of energy, plus increased vulnerability to predators).
Good luck! and write-in as you use these tactics this fall so that others can benefit from your experience.
If you like pheasant hunting you should read my short story , “Old Eagle Eye.”