Excited to go pheasant hunting? The opening day might be just around the corner, but you can’t expect to pick up your gear and have the best hunt of your life. Sure, pheasant hunting requires less preparation compared to deer hunting, but this little prep work can be just what you need to boost your odds. The last thing you want is to go out in the open and return home with nothing to put on the table. Here are five steps that will make for a more productive pheasant hunt.

1) Train your body.

If you don’t engage in any physical activity, then you’ll find yourself breathing hard even before the actual hunt begins. Holding, raising, and lowering your gun over and over could also mean getting jelly arms sooner than you’d expect.

You must never overlook your physical conditioning when going out for a hunt. Otherwise, you will pull down everyone in the group for seeming to always need a break. Note that this goes for your dog as well, if you plan on bringing one in the hunt. It doesn’t matter whether your dog has previous experience. Ensuring that your dog isn’t rusty makes for a more pleasurable hunt.

2) Break in your gear.

Feeling extra confident because you’re completely stacked when it comes to hunting gear? This can lead to you looking like the best hunter in your group or the silliest one because you have failed to break in any of your equipment.

Before you head out to the fields, be sure that everything from your booths to your gun have been adequately broken in. This can go a long way in avoiding blisters and working your way around jamming issues. By testing your gear ahead of hunting season, you can make appropriate adjustments.

3) Shoot some clay.

Pheasants can move pretty quickly. While some might say it’s easy to hunt them, don’t be surprised if you waste a lot of shells on your first few attempts.

Skeet and trap shooting are great for practice, but you will want to shoot clay for the best simulation of live hunting conditions. In clay shooting, you will move to different stations in order to shoot targets that emerge from all directions and angles at varying speeds. With enough practice, you will develop your reaction times immeasurably.

4) Conduct a safety meeting.

These days, many people go pheasant hunting solely for fun. But during ancient times, people would go hunting to bring home food. Their goal was to hunt and return safely. There’s no reason why modern day hunters shouldn’t aim for the same goal.

Meeting with the whole group to talk about safety should always be the first thing to do before every hunt. This meeting covers going through the basics, hunting as a group, manning key positions, watching out for others, and making sure everyone feels right. Regardless of the size of your group, it’s necessary to invest some time for a safety meeting.

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