Anything But Deer Hunting with Tony Peterson - Upland Bird Hunting

Show Notes

The "Anything But Deer Hunting" series on the Nine Finger Chronicles podcast is an attempt for us to continue our love for the outdoors by learning about other outdoor activities in the hunting and fishing space. On this episode, Dan talks with Tony Peterson about one of his favorite activities outside of deer hunting, upland bird hunting.

Tony talks about why he loves pheasant hunting, why he enjoys training dogs, and why he thinks this would be an excellent opportunity to add to your yearly outdoor activities. Tony also touches on the barriers to entry and even goes in to detail about specific strategies. With a fairly low learning curve and low financial startup cost.

Show Transcript

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What's up everybody? Welcome back to another episode of the Nine Finger Chronicles podcast and we are continuing the anything but deer hunting series today with special guest Tony [00:01:00] Peterson. Now, you've probably heard Tony Peterson on this podcast before to, and we just get crazy and we talk about a whole bunch of random things.

But on today's episode, we're actually gonna see the professional side of Tony, and he's going to talk about one of his favorite things to do. And he, as he puts it, it's A one B, meaning he loves deer hunting, but he really loves working with dogs in pheasant hunting in upland bird. So that's what this episode is about.

He talks about the barriers to. How much it costs to get started. A little bit about strategy. Where to look for pheasants, where to look for, upland game. He also provides, if you can't find pheasants or have the opportunity at pheasants, some other wing shooting or like doves and woodcocks and where to look for those and how to find those and things like that.

It's just another awesome episode, another great continuation of this series. And we've been talking to a a lot of [00:02:00] experts, I would say, people who have spent thousands and thousands of hours over their life doing what they love outside of deer hunting. And I figured I'd wanted, I wanted to share that with you guys.

. So huge. Shout out to Tony for taking time outta his day. I just wanna do some housekeeping, some stuff I usually, Do at the beginning of these episodes, and the first thing that I want you to do is make sure that you go to the Sportsman's Empire or the Nine Finger Chronicles and leave a five star review view on iTunes or wherever you download this podcast.

Let everybody know how awesome it is. And the when you do that, I get a little bit more traction. I get to share this content with the rest of the world. I get a lot of you guys reaching out to me on Instagram and, basically saying, Hey, dude, I, don't change. I love the content.

You're putting out all that stuff, but now go tell the world about it. Go to iTune. Or wherever you download your podcast leave a review and then make sure if there's something that you like on Instagram. I really do feel I'm being [00:03:00] banned on Instagram. And so the more I'm guessing that the more people that like my stuff that share my stuff on social.

They'll be able to, maybe I'll get out of that rut at some point, but I doubt it. Just make sure you're following along on Nine Finger Chronicles and Sportsman's Empire on Instagram, Facebook, and and go wild as well. Go check out. Make sure you guys go check out. Go wild.

There's I, we post a lot of stuff on that second or third or whatever, fourth or whatever. One thing that I really want to hound on this this off season is just like this real positive vibe, I'm gonna share a little, a quick little story and so I reached out to a person and I told them that I was hunting near their property and they, the initial vibe that I got was less Good luck.

Congratulations. Good deer in the area, and [00:04:00] more like hesitation more. What's, what are you shooting? Because we only shoot this caliber of deer and we make, wanna make sure that you are doing, what we're doing and things like that. And I think there's a lot of stuff in hunting we can control and a lot of stuff that we can't control and on things that we can't control.

What we really need to do is just let that stuff slide, man. Especially when we're talking. Other hunters, right? And passing judgment on other hunters and things like that. So what I really want to, talk about in the up upcoming weeks is really this notion that we should be supporting each other Chris Powell and the Hounds Man XP podcasts, he.

Is he's a huge, he's adamant about that because really we're all in the same basket. And then outside of that ba, inside of that basket, there's a lot of infighting. And people on the outside of our bucket look at us as, Hey, they're all hunters. And on the inside, Of the bucket, we're [00:05:00] all like, oh, I only do this, or I only, we're segregating ourself from each other.

And it's just not a good, so I'm the proponent of good vibes, man. We gotta, we have to support each other and continue to do what we do because as I've seen in recent months that the lawmaker. Aren't necessarily on our side. The, sometimes the conservation, the departments aren't necessarily on our side because they're influenced by the politicians and who influences the politicians, whoever has money.

And so a lot of what we're seeing, what I've been seeing lately, is just these nasty bills. Like Colorado, this is no joke. Wanted to try and. Hunting to anybody who was 18 years old or younger. That is absolutely ridiculous. But that's a perfect example of people coming after our rights and after our natural resources who have no business doing that.[00:06:00] 

And so at some point it's gonna be, it's, you're gonna have to fight fire with fire. Just stay informed is another thing that I want to tell everybody. Stay informed. If you love pheasant hunting, learn as much about pheasant hunting as you can. If you love deer hunting, learn as much about rules and regulations and stay in the loop on all of this stuff and learn as much as you can because knowledge is power.

And when you have. Power then it's hard to stop, especially if we're working all together. So that's a crazy way of saying, Hey, we need to work together and we need to unite our voices and let everybody know that hey, we we're not gonna stand for some of this stuff. So hopefully that made sense.

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When I was on, when I was walking and doing some shed hunting, what, two days ago On on a, my new farm that I got access to. And the cool thing about this farm is it holds a lot of deer and I was able to get out it's wet ground. You can see the tracks, you can see the trails, you can see where they're bedding, you can see [00:09:00] all the rubs on the farm.

And there's certain parts of this farm that were just shredded and it's a no-brainer for deer to hang out in this area. And so I, I went in, I started marking my places on HuntStand and I was just like, Hey man, I. HuntStand, just documenting and journaling everything that I found where trail, where really heavy trails meet terrain features.

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And that's vortex optics. So vortex, go check 'em out. Last but definitely not least 2% for conservation. Okay, go. All you have to do is Google 2% for conservation. What you need to do is just go to fish and [00:11:00] and read up on how you can start giving back to conservation and how you can get 2% for conservation certified.

All right. So that's it. That's it. So huge shout out to all of the, all of the brands that support this podcast. Huge shout out to all of you for listening. Please subscribe share all that stuff. And then huge shout out to Tony for taking time outta his day. So let's get right into today's anything but Deer Hunting Podcast three, two.

All right on the phone with me today and returning guest and I don't know why he continues to come on the podcast, but he does. Mr. Tony Peterson. How are we doing? 

[00:11:48] Tony Peterson: You know why I come back, buddy? I'm doing good. I'm doing good, man. 

[00:11:51] Dan Johnson: Good. All right. We've BS a lot about.

Really whenever you're on, we Bs about everything but deer hunting. We [00:12:00] do talk a little bit about deer hunting, but today we're not gonna talk about deer hunting at all. We're gonna talk about other cool things that happen. Outside of deer hunting and your you've been picked to talk about upland game, upland, bird hunting.

And I feel like it's definitely an opportunity for people to get outside. And that's where I cut my teeth, man. I gotta, I got a really quick story to share with you. And it was the first time I ever went pheasant hunting and. My uncle had what are they called? It's like a lab winery Ramer mix, but it looked like a lab, but it was gray.

[00:12:42] Tony Peterson: So they, yeah, they call 'em a silver lab. Silver lab. Okay. You gotta be really careful who you say that to in the dog world Because like people get pretty fired up about that . Cause it's not a true lab. Yeah. And yeah, but that's what that 

[00:12:55] Dan Johnson: is. I don't care about those. Yeah. 

[00:12:57] Tony Peterson: I don't either.

at all. . 

[00:12:59] Dan Johnson: [00:13:00] His name was Cujo and he was he was like a dog that, I don't know how they trained him because this is the dog that they would just dump 50 pounds of old Roy out in front of a. Every week. And that's what he ate until he ate all his food. And then he would go eat whatever was killed on the road.

And so he was a, he was really friendly, right? And so this dog would go out and usually this dog would this dog would, wouldn't even. Jumped the pheasant. Like he didn't really point, he just chased him and then he got 'em and then brought 'em back. Like he wouldn't make 'em jump.

Anyway, this one pheasant jumped out and I shot it. And actually one second, one second. I got the feathers. 

[00:13:50] Tony Peterson: Okay.

All right. [00:14:00] Sorry. 

[00:14:01] Dan Johnson: But this is, and this is the first pheasant I ever shot with my uncle and Cujo. And it was in a northern Iowa Sea, like a buffer strip in between all this ag and this is my first pheasant dude. And I loved going pheasant hunting with my uncle. What, 

[00:14:22] Tony Peterson: when was that?

What timeframe are we talking? We're talking 

[00:14:24] Dan Johnson: like maybe 1990. Okay. Yep. Yeah. And because 

[00:14:29] Tony Peterson: Dude Iowa, back in the nineties, late nineties, yeah. Man, it was pretty special situation. 

[00:14:36] Dan Johnson: Oh yeah. Yeah. And that was back in the day when I can I, I don't know about what you remember, but what I remember is nobody was spraying their ditch.

Nobody was cutting them or burning them, or maybe they'd burn them, but they wouldn't, the, there was still plenty of buffer strips. There was plenty of habitat for these animals, waterways for 'em to nest in. And now in Iowa, everybody's [00:15:00] farming, everybody's spraying, everybody, like it.

And I had a guy on from the Iowa dnr, a handful of. Months ago, and he talked about this gigantic population decline in pheasants and pheasant hunting habitat. And he said that over the course of man, interstate 80 runs from Davenport to Omaha. And he said that over the course of a 10 year period, three of that, three of those interstates that long had been removed from pheasant habitat in the state of.

[00:15:35] Tony Peterson: Yeah. I was literally yesterday talking to Sam so Holt about this and he said that just not mowing a ditch and planting pollinators or whatever, just natural c r p, whatever you want in there. Yeah. Is ev for every section line is four acres of cover. Yeah. And you think about that cause it seems so, it probably seems so weird to people now, but like when I grew up, I drove down to Iowa.

I could get down there in [00:16:00] an hour and we would push ditch. All the time. Yeah. And the amount of birds that supported and Oh yeah. It was wild. 

[00:16:07] Dan Johnson: Yep. And when we didn't, when Cujo eventually died we would continue to do that. We just drove ditches, look for 'em, and then get out or drive past him, walk back towards him.

And that's, I just had so much fun doing that. Now I don't do it anymore, but the more I talk about it with you today I want to, I wanna start doing it again. 

[00:16:27] Tony Peterson: Man I can say that Iowa's coming back, Uhhuh . It remains to be seen what this winter does to the populations.

Cause it's been a weird one. Probably not favorable to birds. But I hunted, I've hunted Iowa quite a bit the last couple years and is it back to 1998 levels? Probably not. But is it worth going? Yeah. Yeah. Big time. 

[00:16:46] Dan Johnson: Yeah. I will say this, that there was a period of time while deer hunting.

And Turkey hunting that I did not see or hear a lot of pheasants and in the past.[00:17:00] I'm gonna say five years. This is crazy cuz usually they nest in their habitat is some overlaps. I've seen the Turkey population decline, but I've seen the pheasant population come back and so I've seen a lot more on the roads.

I've jumped them, while shed hunting and things like that. So it's looking, I would say it's looking optimistic from my limited. . 

[00:17:23] Tony Peterson: Yeah. Last year the bird numbers were really good. Yeah. And I'll say this, I know we're not supposed to talk about deer. I hunt a lot of public land in Iowa for pheasants in places that are not known for the deer.

. And the buck that we push out of those slews are just as legit as those southern Iowa bucks, man. It's. . It's pretty cool what you see out there when you're, when you got a couple dogs and you're pushing some 

[00:17:44] Dan Johnson: slews around. Yeah. Yeah. It's the overlooked pieces not necessarily overlooked for pheasants, but, all right.

So I kind of wanna go as far back as we can remember here, and I know that our brains have been clouded by substances, certain [00:18:00] substances over the years, but I want to go back as far as we can remember, and. Talk about how you got into upland bird hunting. 

[00:18:11] Tony Peterson: Oh man. So I have been obsessed with dogs my whole life and my mom would not allow dogs, could never have one growing up and, but my uncle Billy always had a male black lab and he was a pheasant hunting fiend.

Yeah. And so was my dad. My dad grew up. South central Minnesota in the heyday when they had birds all over. . And so he and Billy, when I was growing up, it was like every day Yeah. They would go. And I couldn't wait to be old enough to go with 'em. And finally they brought me, I would go with them, but not carry a gun until I turned 11.

And then I shot my first rooster with him. And I remember it really well. And it was just one of those things where I was like, This at some point. This is going to be a huge [00:19:00] part of my life. And then, in high school, a couple of buddies got bird dogs. And so we started, that was back when you could get a license in Iowa for 55 bucks and drive down there and we would knock on doors.

And I remember just, writing down the address of places on a shell box. And just being like this old guy gave us permission and we got, I wouldn't say we never got turned down cause we did , but we got permission to hunt a lot of places just by knocking on doors. And we hunted public land, we hunted ditches.

It didn't matter and it. Something that took hold. And then finally when I got into a spot in my life where I'm like, I got a house getting married. I'm like, the first thing we did was buy a bird dog. Yeah. And I have not looked back since. 

[00:19:40] Dan Johnson: Yeah. We've we've had that conversation before, Tony, of you like to deer hunt, but it sounds to me like, like it's a one B type scenario with pheasant.

[00:19:54] Tony Peterson: Big time. Yeah. And there's a lot of reasons for that, right? Like people who are just ate up with whitetail hunting [00:20:00] have a hard time understanding that. But it's been my job in some capacity for 15 years now. And you know how it is. It's just a different thing when you have to build a product around your hunts.

It's not. , it doesn't fill your cup up the same way. Yeah. And for me, I always needed something else then. Yeah. So pheasant hunting for me, even though, I did some work around it and I, it's not like totally divorced from my career. It's just such a simpler pursuit that I can just go out and enjoy myself with my dogs and I don't need to worry.

Trophy, whatever. Yeah. And it just it's active, cuz right in the middle of the deer season and you're like, oh, I'm doing, seven all day sits next week for sure. Yeah. And you can go out and follow a dog around or two dogs around and just be active. It's like that, that Western, even a whitetail hunter at West.

A mule deer and antelope punt. When you're a whitetail guy and you go do that, you're like, oh man. It's fun to roam. Yeah. Just see new country, 

[00:20:56] Dan Johnson: yeah, absolutely. And On a previous [00:21:00] episode of this series, I talked with Chris Powell from the Hounds Man XP podcast. And I talked with, because I talked with Mark about fly fishing.

All right? And you can go to a store and buy a fishing pole. You don't have to feed the, you don't have to feed it, you don't have to take care of it, get it shots, things like that. When you're introducing a dog, It's a whole different story. Yeah. And so first off, before we get into this dog, the dog part of it I want to talk about is pheasant.

Let's talk about the entry level financial cost to become a pheasant hunter. And if you can do it without a dog 

[00:21:40] Tony Peterson: upland hunting in general is pretty cheap. Yeah. You don't need you can get a fancy shotgun, you can get a nice over under and spend a couple thousand bucks.

but you don't need to. , if you have a 20 gauge or a 12 gauge, you're pretty set, boots a vest. It's a simple proposition and it, I like that part of it too. Cause you know how it is when you go on a deer hunt and you're like, [00:22:00] okay, I've got, eight stands packed up and I got sticks and I got this and that, and all my camping stuff, and all your bow hunting stuff and your backup bow hunting stuff, and it's just like a logistical nightmare.

to pack for those trips compared to when I go pheasant hunting, I'm like, okay, I got my shotgun, I got my shells, I got my dogs some food. And it's it's you always, I always leave my driveway and I'm like, I don't have enough stuff. Yeah. Cause I'm used to packing so much. But it's pretty easy.

It the hardest part of getting into pheasant hunting depending on where you live. It's just getting around birds. Yeah. And there's a perception out there that there are not wild birds out there to hunt. And even, it depends where you are. Of course. Yeah. . If it's not pheasants, you probably have a woodcock migration come through, or you might be able to go a couple hours and get to some grouse or something like that.

But the generally, I hear so much negativity about wild bird populations. Quail too. . And then you go out on public land, and even if you know what you're doing a little bit, you can have amazing upland hunting opportunities out there on public. , [00:23:00] but it's just not, like it's not gonna be super easy.

A lot of times you're gonna have to put in a little bit of work. Yeah. But the birds are there. Yeah. 

[00:23:07] Dan Johnson: It's not like a South Dakota manicured hunting farm where they have sorghum and corn planted just for pheasants. 

[00:23:15] Tony Peterson: No. And you know the dirty little secret about that is, . If you travel to South Dakota and you're paying to hunt, there's like a 50% chance you're hunting planted birds.

Yeah. And and it, which, whatever, that's fine. That's out east a lot too. But to, I hear people say this all the time, like they'll do it with the grow rough grow cycle. They'll do it with the pheasant population. Quail's a big one because we've heard for so long that they're not doing.

and I just, I'm like, man, we find these birds in so many different states on public land, and it's just all tied to the habitat and the cover that's available and then just like deer hunting or whatever. It's okay, you pull up to 320 acres of C R p, or it's got a cattail slew in the mill or whatever.

If you hunt it the way people do, which they'll be a pounded [00:24:00] path going right around the edge of the cover. , you're not gonna do very. But if you get into the thick stuff and you got a dog that knows how to work the cover and you take some time, those birds have us figured out. They've done radio studies on 'em.

Yeah. Where those birds go right into the middle. They wait you out and then back thing back. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:24:17] Dan Johnson: All right. And , the barrier to entry seems fairly simple without the dog. All right. Now throw that same question in with a dog. I want you to talk a about how much what species might be the best, how much they, how much a puppy like that costs, what training entails and then how to implement them in a successful fhea.


[00:24:41] Tony Peterson: How much time do we have? Yeah. , 

[00:24:42] Dan Johnson: right? High. High level. High 

[00:24:44] Tony Peterson: level. This is my world, man. So people shop for dogs on a lot of different reasons, right? You hear people say, I want a red lab. They're shopping on color. , right? Or, I love the look of an English Sutter. They're so pretty.

They've got the eyebrows, whatever I want that [00:25:00] they don't factor in. What? What's the odds of you getting really good blood? Cuz? The most important thing I don't, I run labs cuz I do, a lot of duck hunting and a lot of upland and I need a dog that's easy to train. Yeah. I don't want, even though I've trained a lot of dogs and I've worked in that space quite a bit, I don't want a dog that is, is beyond my skillset.

And that with people. They're going, oh I want a German dog cause they have the beard. So I want a German wire hair. I want to draw hard or so. and it's do you know what those dogs were bred for? Have you worked with one? Because the average person buying one is gonna be way over their skis on a dog like that.

Yeah. So somebody with a lot of time and knowledge can turn those dogs. They can be freaking awesome. So I always tell people I'm like, , what's the most popular option out there? It's a lab. On the flushing side it's a lab on the pointing side, it's a German short hair, right? Then you gotta find the blood and if you go just to the lab world, we'll use that cuz that's the most common sport dog out there.

Black [00:26:00] labs, the, that color is the dominant color, everything else. So a yellow is next, and then you've got chocolate, you've got the silvers we talked about. You've got the. But if you want the highest odds of getting the blood you want, like the drive you want, whatever else, the health checks, the genetic checks, all that stuff.

The biggest pool I have to fish from is black labs. Yeah. And so I always assume I'm gonna get a black lab. I don't care what color it is, but you start to look at that and go, okay, now I can spend 1500 bucks for a really well bred one, and I'm gonna have all of these different choices to choose from.

I can pick a dog that might be really small, which is what I like but loaded with drive. , and, all this is assuming all the health checks are there, right? The eyes, the elbows, the hips, all that stuff. and then you go, okay what do I really want out of this dog? And people will say I want a dog that's really calm at home and just a Tasmanian devil in the field.

Yeah. It's like that doesn't, [00:27:00] people will sell you that dog, but it doesn't really exist. Yeah. That was part of the reason the British Lab thing got so popular. And it's not that you can't get that dog. , but that's, you still have to train a dog to do that. Yeah. Yeah. And you can't have that burner out in the field unless it has the blood.

Yeah. You can train a dog to be really nice at home. No, don't. No matter how much prey drive it has, but you can't put prey drive in 'em. Yeah. It's if you think about kids and you're like, I'm gonna introduce my kids to hunting, and you have one kid who's give me that BB gun. I'm gonna kill everything.

And you have one kid that's shooting baskets. Yeah. There's just something there, yeah. And so for me, I'm like, I need. The most drive I can buy, that's like real important. So I'm looking at dogs that are field trial champions and master hunter champions mixed together cuz I know those dogs are gonna have the right health.

They're gonna be small athletes for sure. Cuz you don't succeed in those either of those categories without being that and they're gonna be problem solvers. And so I, even though I don't care at all about running field trials or. . I want [00:28:00] dogs that have been bred to solve problems and be real healthy and athletic and you get the right mix of that prey drive's gonna be there.

Yeah. And so not only does that count for a dog that's gonna pick up the pheasant thing right away because they know they get a snoop full of pheasant. They know. They're like, I like this. Yeah. Like just, it just is in 'em. But what I want is a dog that's throw that bumper for me until I fall over.

Yeah. Because then I always have. A reward for 'em. Yeah. Like no matter what we're training, if it's triple blind retrieves for ducks or whatever, if I have a dog that's I wanna pick that bumper up and bring it back and I want you to throw it again, I can always train that dog with that reward.

Yeah. And so it makes it just easier. I don't have to, I don't use e collars on my dog. I don't have to come down on 'em hard because I know what they wanna work. and that makes my job easier and it translates to every part of their existence. Yeah. So how is that for a super long-winded, convoluted 

[00:28:53] Dan Johnson: answer?

That's, yeah, that was good. Now let's talk about the actual cost. You just mentioned something that I'm gonna [00:29:00] say as high level compared to someone who's thinking about buying their very first bird dog and. . From this point on, you've talked about the blood and how important that is, but I have a feeling with good blood comes higher prices.

[00:29:17] Tony Peterson: Sure. And it depends what breed you're talking about. Yeah. So if you take labs, you have the most options. . So there's more supply. So then the price, you can find an amazingly well bred lab for 1500 bucks. Okay. And people will listen to that and they'll say, that's a ton of.

if you want to go get a field bread golden, like not a, just a regular golden retriever with a yellow coat that's gonna die a cancer at three years old, but an actual field bread golden, you're probably talking 2,500, 3000 bucks. It's what people don't understand about this is the genetic time bombs that are in a lot of these breeds because they, the goldens are a great example.

They've been. As show dogs and just because of popularity, and we watched this [00:30:00] happen, French bulldogs are going through this right now, like it happens with breeds and we s like those lines suffer forever because of that, because we didn't pay attention to the breeding. And so what you're paying for is not just performance in the field or not having a sweetheart dog at home.

You're paying for a dog that won't die when it's four years old. And so people will say oh, I can find an $800 dog here. And I'm like, okay, great. What's, what are the health checks? What happened to the parents and the grandparents? Yeah. Because everybody gets a little sticker shock at the front end, and I get that right?

. But if you've ever bought a dog and had it die from something genetic 3, 4, 5, 6 years into its life, and you could go back in time and pay an extra $500 and have that dog. Yeah. Everybody would do it. Yeah. And so you're, and if you look into the genetic testing and some of the stuff that they do to ensure that they're breeding properly, that stuff's expensive.

Yeah. It just is. But you're buying [00:31:00] insurance. And so I would just say, and I hear this, people push back on that all the time, and I understand like a lot of people don't want to pay that much for a dog. Or they'll say, I don't need a dog. That's that good. That's fine. But you have to understand what you're getting into.

And, a $600 Craigslist dog is a total question 

[00:31:18] Dan Johnson: mark. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So we've spent the money, we've done our research we got the dog that we want. And I know this is probably another breed specific type of answer, but what about the ch the learning curve or I should, not the learning curve, but the training curve from pup to field.


[00:31:39] Tony Peterson: I, field ready. . I look at my dogs and I just look at dogs in general as I gotta put in two years. The first two years is pretty training intensive. Yeah. And then I can go on autopilot. Doesn't mean the training, like beyond that point. It's like you're just like reinforcing.

. They know what they need to do and people look at it and they go, [00:32:00] I got a g I got a German short here. I gotta train it. How to point. And it's like those dogs are gonna know how to point, you gotta train that dog to. and you gotta train that dog for good recall. You gotta train a dog for steadiness.

And so you're training them, you're not necessarily training them to do the things they do naturally. You're training them to do the unnatural stuff. Like being a good dog at home and not jumping on everybody is unnatural. Okay. For a lab to sit at your side and watch you shoot a duck and wait to go get it until it, until you send it is super unnatural.

Yeah. And you're using the natural stuff like natural hold and carry and different things like that. You're encouraging that prey drive too, but really you're sitting there. eight weeks old. It's like I'm encouraging eye contact. I'm encouraging you to understand this is a working relationship and you don't have a choice.

You're gonna sit, you're gonna stay, you're gonna do this, and recall and steadiness. And some of those things are like, they take a long time. Yeah. And it people move way too fast with it, right? They're like I'm sick of doing the same three drills every day and not throwing a bumper for my puppy when I [00:33:00] know it wants it yet.

And it. , there's just a timeline to this stuff where they mature and it's different for males and females, it's different for different breeding, but it takes two years. Okay. But if you do it, you have a dog and in that process, you're giving them exposure to, gunfire, exposure, and then as many birds as you can find.

That's why I bring up the Woodcock thing all the time. Yeah, the more wild birds that dog gets into that you're hunting together throughout this process. Once they're ready to be in the. . It's like you just watch it, the whole thing start to gel and then you start get to the, that, that world where they're like, they're not getting 150 yards out on you and you're screaming at 'em, they're staying close cuz they know this is where the action happens and it's, yeah.

It's such a freaking beautiful thing, man. Yeah. That's awesome. 

[00:33:44] Dan Johnson: Let's talk about now the the what to look for. In the white to world, we're always trying to find where deer live and how to, I dunno, like a bed to food pattern or finding where they live and then jumping [00:34:00] 'em. And so let's talk about a guy who wants to get into pheasant hunting.

He really doesn't know much about the bird or the habitat they live in. How do you educate yourself or what do you look for habitat where upland birds live? So you. Go out and hunt '

[00:34:16] Tony Peterson: em, man. Pheasants is probably the easiest to highlight this, but I scout pheasants just like I scout deer a lot of times.

I'll go through the aerial photos and look for cattail slews and I'll toggle between layers where it's like a topo layer that shows you the wetland, and then I'll switch over to the aerial photos to look at it. But if it's wet and. It's usually gonna have some birds in it or birds on the edge.

And everybody thinks, like you mentioned the South Dakota thing with the paths and the, groomed milo fields and whatever. But when you're hunting, like mostly unless you have awesome permission somewhere, it's thicker, nastier stuff than you think. Like you, if you turn on the Sportsman's channel and you watch a hunting show and they're shooting roosters, [00:35:00] they're gonna be in nehi grass.

and those birds are gonna sit tight. And I almost guarantee you on every one of those shows, those birds were planted there. Yeah. They're not wild. Like when you go hunt wild birds, that nice, wavy kneehigh grass doesn't, there might be birds in there at some points, but really you're gonna be in thicker cover.

Yeah. So what I do is I look at it like whitetails, right? I'm like, okay, how far away is the food? Is there a cut corn field they're flying into in the morning and then walking back out? When you get out there and you look at a, let's say a quarter section of CRP grass, it might all look the same, but you start getting in there and they'll be like edges, just like when you're hunting whitetails, where there's yeah, there's waist high grass here, and then there's like this kind of woody stem stuff here.

And then you start getting into those edges. That's where those birds are for some reason. And then you always think about overhead cover, cuz predation in the day for them is always hawk. , like they're always thinking about what's over my head. Gotcha. And so [00:36:00] they're, it is just learn to read the cover and then it's like you just run a pattern.

It's just like fishing, if you pull up to a point and all the small league are stacked up on the downstream side or whatever, it's okay, I know there's another point up there. I'm gonna go try that. If you get in there and you jump a rooster at noon, in this spot where there's this edge and you're, 400 yards away from the corn here.

And it is okay, there's a reason he was there. It wasn't random. Yeah. And so you start thinking about that stuff, but it's, most of it is just getting out there and putting on the miles and not walking the same routes everybody does. Everybody gets to the outside edge and they wanna walk it, or they wanna walk the edge of the like very obvious cattail to grass.

Yeah. Whatever. and those deer, those pheasants figure that stuff out so fast, 

[00:36:40] Dan Johnson: man. Yeah. And so from a strategy standpoint, you touched on it there. We, whether you have, let me ask you this. Is there a different strategy when you have a dog and when you don't have a dog? 

[00:36:53] Tony Peterson: Yeah.

When you have a dog, you go out and have a ton of fun. And when you don't have a dog , you stay home and play 

[00:36:58] Dan Johnson: Nintendo with your daughters. There [00:37:00] you go. I like that 

[00:37:01] Tony Peterson: strategy. No I would say if you don't have a dog. You really gotta get into something tight. , like a waterway that runs through a field or the ditches we talked about.

Or a buff, like a buffer strip. Because pheasants are just runners, man. Not all of 'em. Some of 'em are hiders, but most of 'em, if given the chance, they're not gonna fly. They're just gonna run. Yeah. And you're not gonna know. They run and. . You get into too big a cover and you don't have a dog.

That's a pretty rough go. Yeah, I 

[00:37:29] Dan Johnson: gotcha. I gotcha. So it a dog is the difference between fun and no fun. 

[00:37:36] Tony Peterson: Yeah. It's . Yeah. I don't know, man. Like you could go to prom by yourself. But I don't know. , 

[00:37:41] Dan Johnson: would you want to ? So I want you to elaborate on that, what you were about ready to say, like that statement like, like going to prom by yourself or what?

Going to prom with a hot babe. . Sure. Okay. All 

[00:37:56] Tony Peterson: right. Yeah. All right. Yeah. All right, cool. If you go by yourself, you could have a great time, right? Yeah, you [00:38:00] could. But what are the odds are way better 

[00:38:02] Dan Johnson: if you actually have a date. . There you go. So there you go. All right. I like that . Okay, so we're out there.

We have a dog. We don't have a dog. And now it's time to actually walk. Is there a strategy to where, I don't know you work your way back to the truck, or you work from the truck, or you make a circle, or is there a specific pattern or or is there a a thick to thin method or something like that tends to work the best?

[00:38:35] Tony Peterson: For me, it's always about the wind. Okay. So when I pull up to a spot, because I've already scouted it or I already haunted it, I know I'm taking this route and this, this back corner of this slew looks like it's gonna be best. So I want the dogs to have the best wind there. . So you're always, it's like sitting in a tree stand you're always like, what can I get away with?

What's the best win for me? How does this work? Because, those dogs, if you, if. [00:39:00] Ha. Have a dog with the best nose out there and you work it with the wrong wind. The stuff you see constantly is maddening. They go, they come back, they go, they cut back, they go, they cut back because they're always trying to work the wind.

And you never flush as many birds as you do if they're just using the wind correctly. . And so you're always thinking about that. The other thing I'm always thinking about is the conditions. If it's really. , you're gonna make a lot of noise and it's you gotta factor in what's my route?

Am I gonna just bust through the thickest cover possible? When it's really calm, it's pretty rough, right? Or if you have a nice 15 mile per hour wind and they're not gonna hear you till you get real close, changes your whole strategy a little bit. But I always look at it and go, I know the route we're gonna.

We'll start it and it's like winter scouting deer. You're like, okay, we made it to this point, but look at how interesting that is. Or, I didn't know this waterway was this good a cover. Or, these will thickers aren't what we need. So you adapt. But it's always like, how do I give my dogs the best chance?

Yeah. And that's all, almost always wind. 

[00:39:57] Dan Johnson: Gotcha, gotcha. Okay. [00:40:00] So win plays another important role is there, and we talk. Pressure or high pressure. Sometimes it tends to get deer moving. Rainstorms tend to get deer moving or, some ki type of precipitation event. Is there any type of weather condition that brings the best odds or is optimal over another condition?

Fresh snow. 

[00:40:22] Tony Peterson: Fresh snow? Oh yeah, man. I like a good wind when I'm pheasant hunting, like 15, 20 miles an hour is. Cool is always better. The, if there's a little moisture in the air, they can that's not a bad thing, but man, fresh snow, they just pheasants for whatever reason. I don't know why they don't run a lot in fresh snow.

It's obviously, it's harder for them to run, but they'll hold tight. I mean it, my dogs will catch a handful of birds a year, and it's always, When it's just a fresh snow. Yeah, no, they don't want to get up. But that's when you get, and I'm running flushers, so it'd be different with a pointer.

It'd still be good with a pointer, but I don't, [00:41:00] I get the best flushes possible when there's five inches of fresh powder and you get out there in the morning and those birds just do not wanna run. So those dogs are, they'll work close. And your flushes are almost unfair. Like when you hit those conditions, right?

Instead of having a day where you're like, oh, I. , 10 times when I got two birds or I shot 10 times, I got three birds or whatever. You're like, I've shot three times today and I got three birds. Yeah. You know what I mean? Just cuz your shot opportunities are so awesome. Yeah. 

[00:41:27] Dan Johnson: Why do you like pheasant hunting 

[00:41:28] Tony Peterson: so much?

The dogs. I listen, I think pheasants are badass. I think they're the best thing we got out of China. like they are? None. None. I've haunted, the western Sharpies and prairie chickens. I've haunted quail quite a bit. I've haunted rough girls a ton. Woodcock ducks. I love 'em all, but nothing gives the dog better work than a wild rooster.

Yeah, like they just, they try so hard and they're so sneak. . And I just, I love that [00:42:00] aspect of it. And I love the fact that you like when, that happens. We hunt cover all the time. It's like cattails where I can't see my dog for, most of the day. So I have to listen to 'em like li literally listen to their tail and I can tell when they're getting birdie or not.

Or you get a glimpse of 'em and they run by and you can tell whether they're on something or not. Like they're just, it's so freaking fun. Yeah. Like that connection. Of working with dogs. That is you have that legit partnership where you're both like on the same page. It's the best. Gotcha. 

[00:42:31] Dan Johnson: Cool.

All right, so here's the sales pitch. Time of the podcast where, you know, someone's listening to this and they are looking into picking up some a different out outdoor activity. Pitch them pheasant hunting and why they should give it a try. 

[00:42:49] Tony Peterson: I would say . You just gotta see a rooster flush.

Yeah. Like you, you just gotta have a rooster flush in front of you. It's just awesome. Like we, my buddies and I were talking about this at the end of the [00:43:00] season, it's it boils down to like your deer season, right? Like people see the picture you pose and wheel your buck, and they're like, oh yeah, had a good season.

They don't know a whole lot about what it took to get there, right? There's so much missing. And we were talking about that where it's like we have times where we'll hunt. Six, seven hours and you haven't fired a shot. Yeah. And then you get that flush and you're like, it's just so worth it every single time.

But I would say it's not just pheasant. It's like there's, there are good opportunities out there and if you're listening to this and you're like, I wanna hunt something with my dog, or I just wanna wing, shoot, like I wanna hunt something, there's dove opportunities out there that are actually pretty good in a lot of the Midwest and the East, the Woodcock.

People don't, there's like a little subculture that really likes it, especially in the pointing dog world. But you can find Woodcock coming through in October in a lot of places where you would not think, like I sit here in my house in the twin Cities, in the suburbs, and if I'm driving to pick up the girls or something from [00:44:00] school, I'll see Woodcock fly in and know that it's on.

It's pretty reliable anyway. But I can go on public land that I wouldn't hunt for anything. I've I've been in there plenty, like it's not worth it for me to go deer hunted or whatever. And I know at certain points there'll be a good woodcock hunt waiting for me there. Yeah. In a totally unconventional kind of environment, 

[00:44:21] Dan Johnson: okay. All right. And where would you. If people are looking for resources to read up on or study or learn more about upland game and how to properly hunt or train dogs or things like that, do you have a recommendation? 

[00:44:38] Tony Peterson: Yeah I probably shouldn't say this cuz they work for MER now, but I love Gun Dog Magazine.

Yeah. I work for Gun Dog, and obviously they have a huge digital present presence too. I worked for them for a long time and Callie over there is doing a, just a badass job with that pub. Yeah. But you can find, we're starting to cover some dog training stuff at Meat Eater and starting to cover some of this stuff, like you can find a [00:45:00] lot of upland content.

A lot of it is built around sort of these bucket list species, a lot of western stuff. And then a lot of the pheasant and more domestic or, I shouldn't say domestic, like more Midwest eastern type stuff is built around these opportunities that they're paying for them. Yeah. And there's a lot of, and I know I'm gonna sound worse than to, but there's a lot of like high fiving around birds that were raised under a net in a pen.

 That, and you're gonna look at that and go geez, this looks really. Yeah. No. If you're dealing with a public land rooster in a certain state, that's a different thing than that. But those birds are still there and the opportunities 

[00:45:37] Dan Johnson: are still there. Cool. All right, so I was thinking about this.

Did correct me if I'm wrong, didn't the pheasant become, I guess you wanna say it was brought over from China, but what made it, wasn't there like a captive pheasant breeding facility that got hit in a storm or something like that? And that's [00:46:00] how they were introduced into the wild and they flourished.

[00:46:04] Tony Peterson: I don't know. I'm sure that's happened. . I don't, I think it was like, I don't think it was a one off event. Yeah. That got 'em here. You know what I mean? Yeah. I think they, I know they brought 'em over as a game bird, but Yeah. I guess I don't really know. Yeah. Cool. It was a good 

[00:46:19] Dan Johnson: move either way.

Yeah. Yeah. Either way. Either way. I'll tell you what, Tony, man, I really appreciate you coming on today and and pushing upland birds on us. And thank you for your time and good luck, man. Yeah, buddy. 

[00:46:31] Tony Peterson: Thank you.

[00:46:35] Dan Johnson: All right. And there you have it. Another episode in the books. Huge shout out to Tony. Huge shout out to all of you. Huge shout out to Tethered was Punt Dan and Vortex. Please support the brands that support this podcast. And last but not least, Positive energy, positive attitude, good vibes. I know, especially in my life, sometimes I try to live by the positive energy, the [00:47:00] positive vibe motto, but sometimes even my motto and my day gets cloudy with negative energy.

And I have to take a step back, take a couple deep breaths, ask myself, is this worth it? And then, Right back onto being positive. And and that's it, man. So good vibes in. Good vibes out. If you're gonna be in a tree, wear your safety harness. And if you wanna be on this podcast, man, hit me up.