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Upland Paradise in Oklahoma

 

Upland bird hunting and classy gun dogs go hand-in-hand. Pursuing a wily pheasant rooster is the first thought many people have when it comes to upland hunting. Introduced to the United States in the nineteenth century, this native bird of China is a colorful reminder that the fall season is the time of the hunter. Blaze orange collars flash on the pointing dogs as they speed through the cover only to suddenly slam on point at the faintest whiff of pheasant scent. Now the hunt begins in earnest as the rooster must decide whether to try its trademark zigzag running through the heavy cover, or to take flight and lose those in pursuit.

Oklahoma holds the annual pheasant opener close to its heart with the human population suddenly booming in areas of the state where the most birds are found. While pheasants seek cover when they sense danger, many times they are spied right out in the open fields or ditches in farm country when searching for food. Pointing, flushing, and retrieving dogs are all used in the quest for this king of the game birds.

The cackle of the rooster pheasant is music to some ears, but the song that strikes a cord with many upland hunters is the haunting call of the bobwhite quail. With a range that spans most of the state of Oklahoma, these fast flying little birds can be just as tough to bring down as they are to be pinned by a hard-charging dog. The scaled quail can only be found in limited areas of the state, but both species forage for seeds and bugs while staying close to protective cover. The birds move around feeding in the morning and late afternoon. These times provide the best scenting conditions for the bird dogs.

Several species of migratory game birds pass through Oklahoma on their way to winter habitats. Among the most interesting looking is the woodcock, or timber doodle, as it’s better known in upland story telling. The birds with their distinctive long beaks can often be found near water where they search the moist ground for worms. A good dog can get a timber doodle to hold tight, but when scared into flight they often fly almost vertically for a brief period before escaping through the trees. Dove, common snipe and rail also have a designated hunting season on their migration through the state.

The bobwhite quail and the ring-necked pheasant were found in many different areas of the country at one time. Today, Oklahoma is one of the few states that still boasts a relatively healthy wild population of both species. No matter if your passion is getting that perfect retrieve in hand from your canine partner or the thrill of seeing a high nose and tail on a picturesque pointer, this plains state is prime for upland bird hunting.