Pheasant hunting in South Dakota

Wingshooting Basics: A Comprehensive Guide for Upland Bird Hunting

Wingshooting basics are really pretty simple, similar methods are used for all types of upland bird hunting, be it pheasant, grouse, chukar, partridge, snipe or quail. Basically, you’ll walk through areas with lots of cover that looks like it would hold the type of game bird you’re after. As you hunt more, you’ll begin to get a good idea of what kind of habitat holds birds. Hunting dogs aren’t absolutely necessary, but they make the experience so much more rewarding. So much so, that most hunters state that the main reason they bird hunt is to watch the dogs work.

Upland bird hunting is an exciting and challenging outdoor activity that requires preparation and knowledge. Whether you are a seasoned hunter or a beginner, understanding the basics of upland bird hunting is essential for a successful hunt. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know to get started on your next upland bird hunting adventure.

The Basics of Upland Bird Hunting

Upland bird hunting is the pursuit of game birds that are found on land, such as pheasants, quail, and grouse. The key to a successful upland bird hunt is to understand the habits and habitat of your target bird species. This knowledge will help you identify where to hunt, when to hunt, and how to hunt.

When you have shot one bird flying you have shot all birds flying. They are all different and they fly in different ways but the sensation is the same and the last one is as good as the first.” – Ernest Hemingway

Where to Hunt Upland Birds

Upland birds are found in a variety of habitats, such as grasslands, agricultural fields, woodlands, and shrublands. The first step in planning your hunt is to identify the habitat of the species you wish to hunt. Once you have identified the habitat, you can begin scouting the area for signs of bird activity, such as tracks, droppings, and feathers.

What you think of when it comes to upland bird hunting probably depends on where you were born and raised. If you’re from the midwest, it means hunting ruffed grouse, pheasant, and Hungarian partridge. If you are from the south, it means pursuing bobwhite or quail with English pointers. If you’re from the west, maybe it reminds you of chukar, blue grouse, sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens. From Canada? How about ptarmigan? Whatever it is we can help you find the upland bird hunting trip you’re looking for. Just get in touch with us to get started.

How to Hunt Upland Birds

Upland bird hunting can be done using a variety of methods, including flushing, pointing, and stalking. The most common method is flushing, where hunters use dogs (usually retrievers) to flush out birds from their cover, allowing the hunter to take a shot. Pointing involves the use of trained dogs to locate and point out birds to the hunter. Stalking involves quietly moving through the cover to flush out birds and take a shot.

Safety Tips for Upland Bird Hunting

Upland bird hunting can be a safe and enjoyable activity when proper safety measures are followed. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind while upland bird hunting:

  1. Always point your shotgun in a safe direction.
  2.  Keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
  3. Always treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings and the location of other hunters, including the dogs.
  5. Always wear blaze orange clothing to make yourself visible to other hunters.
  6. Know the capabilities of your firearm and ammunition.

Equipment for Upland Bird Hunting

Upland bird hunting requires specialized equipment to ensure a safe and successful hunt. Here is a list of essential equipment for upland bird hunting:


  • Hunting license with required stamps, photocopy of personal ID
  • Shotgun with gun case: The most critical piece of equipment for upland bird hunting is a shotgun. A 12-gauge or 20-gauge shotgun is ideal for most upland bird species.
  • Ammunition as required by state
  • Quick shotgun cleaning kit
  • Hunting vest: A bird hunting vest with game pouches is ideal for carrying extra ammunition, water, and other essentials.
  • Hunting boots: Comfortable, waterproof boots are essential for upland bird hunting, as you will be covering a lot of ground and encountering various terrains.
  • Insulated outerwear including gloves and hat
  • Upland boots, heavyweight socks
  • Chemical warmers for hands and feet
  • Headlamp
  • Binoculars
  • GPS *we like the Garmin inReach
  • Multi-tool
  • Knife
  • Protective eyewearearplugs
  • Hunting dog: A well-trained hunting dog is an essential tool for upland bird hunting, as they can flush out birds, retrieve downed birds, and point out birds for the hunter.
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How to Cook Upland Birds

Maybe the best part of upland bird hunting is the fine cuisine, but you need some good recipes. Cooked properly, gamebirds should have a blush of pink, like a good-quality pork loin. Pheasant, snipe, quail, wild turkey, partridge, and grouse tastes similar to chicken of wild game birds. Ruffed grouse have a strong flavor that many hunters prefer to pheasant or quail, which can be bland.

Dressing Game Birds

Read your upland bird hunting laws for your state. Some states require that you leave one wing or the head attached during transport.

  1. Pluck feathers on lower breast and abdomen Cut through the belly skin at base of breast.
  2. Bend bird backwards and remove all entrails.
  3. Pluck feathers or remove feathery cape.
  4. Dry bird and keep it cool until you get it home; then refrigerate until cooking.
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