Resources to learn about bird hunting

Discussion in 'Cast & Blast' started by Jason Rolfe, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer

    Hi folks,

    I've been thinking for a while now about possibly getting into bird hunting. There are a few different reasons I'd like to: partly, I think it would be a great way to experience the outdoors. I also like the idea of harvesting some of the food my girlfriend and I eat myself.

    I hunted deer a few times as a kid--took the hunter education and safety course and an afterschool hunting class around the time I was in middle school, and did a few hunts over a couple seasons with my step-dad.

    Anyway, I'm not sure if I would ever take the plunge and do it, but at this point I'd really like to at least do some reading on it, and maybe even sign up for a class of some sort on bird hunting. I realize that is a fairly broad term, and that's intentional.

    So, would any of you folks have suggestions on good books that can give an introduction to the sport. Maybe something that covers different types of birds and how you hunt them (ducks, upland, ?), guns/ammo/gear, ethics and conservation, bird dogs, and anything else? Or, would you have a recommendation for a class or something similar in the Seattle area that I might look into?

    I'd really like to learn a bit more than the general knowledge I have. Probably take a class. Maybe even go on a hunt with an experienced hunter to get a feel for it, even tagging along without a gun.

    Any and all suggestions are welcome, and thanks in advance.

  2. Roper

    Roper Idiot Savant

    I would suggest inviting a few of the bird hunters from this forum for lunch and maybe a brew or two some Saturday or Sunday after the end of the month. You can sit and pick the collective brain of a few of us and get some insight into bird hunting. In my opinion, grouse hunting is the least gear intensive way to start. You just need a shotgun, shells, and a license. You don't need a dog, you walk the woods a lot, and grouse make really good eats.

    Trap shooting is a good start to hitting things. That's my two copper Lincolns.
  3. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer

    Exactly the kind of thing I was hoping to hear, Roper. Thanks. Grouse hunting was actually one thing I've been looking at a lot, as it seems, like you said, a relatively straightforward way to get into things.

    I'd definitely be into buying a round after January for anyone interested in dropping some bird hunting wisdom on me.


  4. wyofly

    wyofly Active Member

    There are many good books and later when I get into my library, I'll PM you with my favorites.
    Jason, I think that you will find that most serious bird hunters will tell you that its all about the dogs. Most of us love dogs and love to watch them solve the mysteries of scent. After reading and talking bird hunting with fellow bird hunters and if you make the decision to become a bird hunter, you will have to decide whether to hunt behind a pointing dog or a flushing dog. So maybe someone with a good dog will let you tag along just to see first hand what it is all about. I'm partial to Labs for waterfowl and pheasants and Brittanys for all prairie grouse. That said, I have used Britts for retrieving ducks and Labs for all manner of upland game. Which shotgun(s) to buy? Will you train the dog or have a pro do the job. Will you learn to shoot via skeet, sporting clays or maybe pasture clays? Will you buy your ammo or reload?
  5. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer

    Hi Wyo,

    All great thoughts! And part of the reason I'm interested in hunting--there are so many different sides to it, and so many levels of involvement.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and I look forward to that PM.


  6. ribka

    ribka Active Member

    Already passed hunter safety can check that off. If it has been a few year review safe firearms handling practices.

    Roper and wyo have good advice. The logical bird on the W side, as Roper suggested, would be grouse.

    If you can make it over t e side take you out for chukar, hun and quail or show you typical habitat based on time of year. Food and cover. Learn these and you are ready to start. Some time at the trap and skeet range is time well spent. I would spend time in the field over reading a book. You can start by hiking and scouting bird areas in the Spring and summer. A Rem 870 is more than sufficient for birds and trap and skeet shooting.

    Attempting to arrange a cast and blast at Cooke Canyon in the end of Feb or March. Welcome to come.
  7. wyofly

    wyofly Active Member

    Jason, PM sent.
  8. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer


    I've been looking at the Rem 870's online. What gauge and model would you suggest for a noob to the sport? The wingmaster looks nice, and by the name seems like a good option.

    I'll definitely keep the Cooke Canyon cast and blast on my radar. Might not be prepared to hunt by then, but I'd love to come tag along and learn a bit, catch some fish, and share some beverages.

    Again, thanks for the advice.

  9. Roper

    Roper Idiot Savant

    Jason, 870's come in all gauges, but my favorite is a 28. For grouse and quail, it's light but potent. Another possibility is a Browning BPS, a few years back they brought back a 16 gauge. I have one and it's a great all around gun for everything, even drops ducks flared on decoys well. I gifted an 870 in 16 to my Grandson, it's a 60's vintage gun, You might find one of those on Gunbroker.
  10. wyofly

    wyofly Active Member

    My favorite Gauges are 16 and 28 and I prefer them for prairie grouse and upland bird hunting.
    16 and 28 Ga. ammunition is more expensive and there are less options in terms of shot amount and shot size and I compensate by reloading. The first shotgun up is a 16 Ga. AyA and the 2nd is a 28 Ga. Parker two barrel set.
    My hunting loads are stuffed in all brass shells, which work great in double guns, but not a good option for pumps or an auto.
  11. wyofly

    wyofly Active Member

    I think most will agree that a 12 Ga. is the most versatile gauge and can be used for almost any thing that flies. Ammunition is everywhere and there are many choices. The 20 Gauge is not far behind. A 16 Ga on a 16 Ga. frame is a joy to carry and shoot. MIne weighs 6.2 lbs.
    Re the 870: In terms of quality an older 870 Wing Master is a much better gun than is being produced today. If at all possible try and shoot as many different shotguns as you can. By doing so, you might discover the gun that best suits you. Trap, skeet and sporting clay shooters generally use specialized guns, but many of these guys and gals have bird guns that they might allow you to handle and posibly shoot.
  12. aaronk

    aaronk Member

    If you're interested in duck hunting let me know, always willing to have someone else tag along. I'm no expert, but I usually come home with a few birds. Initial investment for duck hunting is a bit more than upland, but it's addicting for sure!
  13. ribka

    ribka Active Member

    Dammit! stop it with the gun porn. I have shotgun envy!;)

  14. ribka

    ribka Active Member

    as stated by those wiser than me go with a 12 gauge to begin with. I would look for a good used 870 Wingmaster with a 28 inch barrel with a mod choke.

    Will post dates of Cooke Canyon Jason. They have a few clay bird throwers to practice before the shoot
  15. Steve Call

    Steve Call Active Member

    Don't pass on the invitation to Cooke Canyon.

    Last year I treated my nephew, who had never hunted, and my son who hadn't hunted in ten years, to a released hunt with Red's in the Yakima Canyon. The young guide had a fantastic pointer. The boys had a great time and got to shoot some birds over a dog. I tagged along and shot clean-up on the birds they missed. Fun time.
  16. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer

    One question on that post, and that I've been wondering regarding various makes and models in general:

    You say to look for an older 870--what time period are you referring to as being the ones to look for?

    Just curious.

  17. wyofly

    wyofly Active Member

    Jason, the Model 870 Wing Master was first produced in 1951 and in the early 90's the Express was introduced. In 1986 Rem Chokes became the norm. I'm not sure when quality did a nose dive, but if you look at a new 870 and then try to find a wing Master built in the 50's, 60's, or 70's you will see the difference. The Ithaca Model 37 and Browning BPS are good shotguns. Even though they are much maligned, the older Mossberg 500 are serviceable and the least expensive of the pump guns. Handle them all and see if one calls your name.:)
  18. Islander

    Islander Steve

    That's some great advise. Bring cookies and "I'm in".
    Might also want to try your local library. Although some of the books my be somewhat dated, not much has changed in bird behavior and habitat.
  19. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer

    I actually picked up a couple books from the library the other day. I'm an avid reader and writer, so I enjoy using words as a way to learn about something.

    One of the books I picked up was "Upland Bird Hunting" by Joel M. Vance, published, I think, in 1981. It's actually a great read. The guy writes with enough humor and sincerity to make it interesting, and enough passion to make me care. I've been enjoying flipping through the various chapters. I never knew Brittanys were so contentious as bird dogs (or at least were, at some point)!

  20. Steve Call

    Steve Call Active Member

    If I remember correctly, Orvis used to have a nice little primer on upland bird hunting. I think I bought it for my son's many years ago. You might find it in a library or used book store.