Hunting Pheasants In Standing Corn
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Hunting standing corn can be one of the most productive methods of hunting pheasants. These unpicked fields of corn can hold large pheasant numbers, and many pheasants will prefer standing corn to other cover types. However, many roosters will outsmart the hunters and will escape and will either seep out the sides of the corn field or sneak behind the hunters if the hunt is not executed well. This hub will discuss potential methods hunters can use to increase their success in standing corn.
A Word About Safety
I would like to note that hunting standing corn has some added safety risks. These risks include the use of blockers (hunters stationed at the end of the field the gunners are walking toward), decreased visibility, and the increased likelihood of seeing roosters running ahead of you. The use of blockers is common also in hunting cover outside of crops, but there is always an increased risk of an accident when drivers walk toward blockers. Tall corn can prevent the drivers from knowing the location of each other, and losing track of where the blockers are. Lastly, seeing roosters run on the ground or even stop shortly has on occasion given hunters the desire to shoot an easy bird. This is dangerous. Not to mention the possibility of shooting a hunter, there is a risk of shooting a dog if you are using one. All this being said, I recommend some of the following precautions. First, make sure everyone knows the plan of how the field will be worked ahead of time. Secondly, everyone should have plenty of blaze orange on and a blaze orange hat. The higher the item of blaze orange, the easier to see. Lastly, make sure everyone agrees and understands that no one shoots at the ground. The only shots anyone should take are high birds. The only exceptions are for corner blockers who may be able to take safe shots at birds flying out the sides of field.
Blockers and Drivers
This is not a hunting strategy that can easily be successfully implemented by just a couple of hunters. The minimum number of hunters to hunt a small corn field is 4, and 6 is probably more realistic. Hunting strips of corn may be the only way for 2 or three hunters to have success in standing corn (see below). The most successful method is by using a combination of "drivers" and "blockers." A blocker is someone posted on the opposite side of the field. The presence of these blockers helps prevent pheasants from running out of the corn field and escaping.
There are many factors in choosing the exact method of hunting a typical field. However, I have had the best luck using the method illustrated in the image to the right. The image shows the placement of the drivers (arrows) and blockers (red boxes). If at all possible, the drivers should be dropped off first. The blockers should then drive around and take positions on the two corners of the field. They should take a position on the corner that allows pheasants coming through either side of the corn field to clearly see them. The drivers should start somewhat close together and gradually spread apart as they walk the field. This is to attempt to decrease the number of roosters that sneak back through the driving line. The illustration to the right is meant for a hunting party of 4. If you have additional hunters, add one blocker to the middle, and then additional drivers. If you have enough drivers to have 20 yards of cornfield between them, a V pattern is likely unnecessary. Another option for large hunting parties is to have extra drivers walking on sides of the cornfield about 10 yards out of the corn (20-30 yards if they are walking in cover). See second illustration to the right.
As in other forms of pheasant hunting, it is essential the hunters analyze as many potential factors as possible (e.g. wind direction, number of hunters, surrounding cover types, natural barriers, SAFETY) in planning their strategy for a particular field.
Now don't misunderstand me, being quiet while hunting pheasants is important no matter how you hunt them. I find roosters in corn to be particularly wary, and some will quickly funnel out the sides of the field if too much noise is made by the hunters. After the drivers have been dropped off at their end of the field, making sure not to slam doors, they should sit tight and stay quiet while the blockers are setting up. The blockers should also be quite for the duration of the drive.
Another option is to hunt the field in strips. This is when the farmer harvests some of the corn in the field so there are strips of standing corn. Because much of the cover is reduced, these strips of corn are easier for small groups of 1-3 hunters to hunt (depending on how wide the strips are. I have had luck hunting strips 30 rows wide with a driver on each side moving toward one blocker in the middle. If the strips are smaller one or two hunters can potentially work the strips without a blocker. In this case as in the larger fields discussed above, a dog (or more) working between the drivers will increase your success. Good Luck!
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How likely is it that you will hunt pheasants in standing corn in a typical season?
Any form of hunting has risks of causing harm to yourself or others. Hunting in a cornfield where you cannot easily see other hunters and the use of blockers adds to the risk of dangerous accidents. Use these tips at your own risk and use great caution. Be sure of the hunting regulations in the area you hunt.