The Best Places for Beginners to Hunt Pheasants

July 8, 2024

Millions of people enjoy the thrill of a pheasant hunt every fall and winter. These beautiful birds make for accessible hunting experiences with good meat and beautiful feathers to enjoy at the end.

Pheasants also make for a great beginner target for individuals learning the complexities of hunting. Many hunters actually have the experience of pheasants as their first experience in the field!

In this article, we plan on providing you with a solid base of information for beginners looking to get into the hunt. From basic information like your hunting season to more complex information on where the best beginner pheasant hunting spots are, there are plenty of tips and tricks a novice hunter can pick up here.

You can’t hunt anything without land to safely do so, let’s start there!

Types of Places to Hunt Pheasants

Depending on your state, there will generally be three categories that huntable land will fall into including public, private, and game farms.

Each state varies in its regulations, but in general, these are how each of these land categories function.

Public Hunting Lands

Public hunting land is, naturally, the most accessible. In areas designated by the state, anyone with proper licensure can engage in hunting on public lands during the designated seasons.

Public lands are a great way for beginners to get in the field on the hunt as they are usually well-mapped and come with local tips.

At the same time, public lands receive much more hunting pressure than some of the other land categories, which can result in a more skittish and smaller pheasant population.

Private Hunting Lands

Private landowners in some states can come to agreements with hunters for access to their private land. Private lands can be exclusive and provide tremendous hunting opportunities, but you’ll likely have to pay extra for that access. Plus, you’ll need to cultivate relationships with local landowners to seek permission in the first place.

However, private land access can come through hunting clubs, which may be a more accessible way for people to find private land to access. This extra work can certainly generate results, and you’ll be able to tap into a pheasant population that is generally inaccessible to the public.

Game Farms and Preserves

Some states have game farms and preserves that offer tremendous pheasant hunting experiences. This option will generally end up being the most expensive, but the most inclusive option as well.

Most of these lodges have places to stay, food to eat, and equipment to borrow, as well as a guide to help cultivate a successful hunting trip. While you’re paying more, the experience that can be had makes the money all worthwhile.

A huge advantage to these farms and preserves is that they can stock the fields with birds in controlled environments to create ideal hunting conditions.

Top States for Pheasant Hunting

Check with your state to see local pheasant hunting regulations. If you want to travel for some of the greatest pheasant hunting in the United States, consider some of the following!

South Dakota

South Dakota is a great destination for pheasant hunting. With a large pheasant population that thrives in the South Dakota habitat and with plenty of open space to hunt, there are some great pheasant hunting opportunities waiting to be had. This includes both experiences on public and private lands.

The traditional pheasant hunting season in South Dakota is from October 19 to January 31. Throughout this season, shooting hours are from 10 AM to sunset. You’ll need a small game license for pheasant, which bestows a three-rooster pheasant daily limit.

For some of the best hunting towns in South Dakota, consider some nationally renown areas like Aberdeen, Brookings, Hoven, Miller, Watertown, White Lake, and more.

South Dakota has a tremendous hunting heritage throughout the state, which makes the experiences more accessible and enjoyable!


The plains of Kansas make for great pheasant habitat, which has created a healthy population of birds in the state.

With both public and private land access available, Kansas has some tremendous pheasant opportunities, making it one of the top states for pheasant hunting, especially for beginners.

With a season that runs from early November to late January, there are some great shooting opportunities available when it comes to pheasant hunts in Kansas. The daily bag limit is up to 4 pheasant roosters.

For beginners and experts alike looking to hunt in Kansas, most areas of the state have some sort of access available.

Eastern Kansas, for example, is known for the Flint Hills region with large grasslands. For public hunting, consider areas like Jamestown Wildlife Areas, Milford Wildlife Area, and some of the walk-in hunting areas scattered about.

There are also some reputable private Kansas pheasant hunting preserves and guides that can offer you and your hunting party a truly tremendous pheasant hunting experience.


Similarly to Kansas, Iowa is known for its prairies, plains, and farms, which all create fantastic habitats for pheasants.

With a healthy pheasant population, there are usually plenty of opportunities for hunters to get a pheasant, regardless of experience level.

Hunting season for pheasants in Iowa runs from the end of October to the middle of January giving hunters several weeks to get in the field. The daily limit is three roosters.

Iowa boasts the Iowa Hunting Atlas, an online interactive tool that hunters can use to find public hunting lands. This tool is a great way to find spots to explore for pheasants.

In general, the highest pheasant population numbers will be towards Northern Iowa, but pockets of healthy pheasant populations can be found scattered throughout the state. Recent surveys indicate that pheasant populations in Iowa are at their highest in about a decade, and with plenty of lands accessible to hunt from, some great hunting expeditions are there for the taking!


Nebraska is another state with a general pheasant population that exists across the state. With numerous open landscapes like farms and wetlands, there are a ton of pheasant hunting habitats and opportunities. In Nebraska, the pheasant hunting season lasts from the end of October through the entirety of January. There is a daily limit of 3 rooster pheasants.

When searching for huntable land, Nebraska has both public and private options. For public options, similar to Iowa, Nebraska has a hunting atlas tool online where hunters can examine tens of thousands of acres of public hunting lands where you can try your hand at a pheasant hunt.

With healthy populations abound Nebraska provides a great opportunity for beginners to get their first pheasant.


Minnesota is another top state for pheasant hunting each year. Most of the state has suitable habitats that offer experiences ranging from good to great with pheasant hunts. The pheasant season in Minnesota spans from mid-October to the end of the year. The daily limit is 2 roosters.

The state of Minnesota provides a lot of resources for hunters looking for pheasants. First is the map every fall that depicts the abundance of pheasant throughout the state. This can limit your search to only high-density areas.

From there, the state offers numerous wildlife management areas to explore as well as federal Waterfowl Production Areas. What’s more, beginners can also use the walk-in access finder to find private lands available to the public for hunting with the payment of a small fee.

The opportunities for pheasant hunting are plentiful in Minnesota, making it a top option for new hunters.

Tips and Best Practices for Beginner Pheasant Hunters

Safety Tips and Regulations

The best hunting experiences are ones that are safe and legal. This reduces stress on you and your hunting party, allowing for an overall better experience.

To achieve these basic things, start by exploring your state and local hunting regulations for where you’d like to hunt. Each state has slight nuances in their hunting seasons, as well as their licensing, to make sure you are approved to hunt.

From there, practice and understand gun safety, as well as other safe hunting practices. Keep guns on safety when not in use, don’t point them at other hunters under any condition, plan your hunts ahead of time with a map, and stick to your script are all hunting practices that save lives each year.

Don’t become a horror story, stick to the fundamentals for safe hunts.

Understanding Pheasant Behavior

For any successful hunt, the hunter is best served to understand the behavior of the creature they hunt.

In the case of pheasants, these birds thrive on agricultural lands and old fields. Prairies with tall grasses, hedges, and bushes all provide an ideal environment for pheasants. In these locations, the birds will forage on insects, fruits, nuts, grasses, and leaves.

Unlike your typical bird, though, pheasants spend the majority of their lives on the ground. They like to roost in these tall grasses. Pheasants are easily spooked and can run extremely fast across the ground, as well as take off in speedy flight.

Keep this in mind when you’re flushing out your first or next pheasant.

Essential Gear for Pheasant Hunting

A hunt can only be as good as the gear brought.

For pheasant hunting, you want some warm, camouflage clothing. As pheasant season is always in the fall/winter, it will certainly be chilly. Sturdy, insulated boots are a hunting must, especially for pheasants. Keep a good map and GPS as well to avoid getting lost.

For the shooting itself, the best option for pheasant hunting is a shotgun, usually in the 20 to 28 gauge range. Its important to take the time and find a shotgun best suited to your needs. Many hunters opt to have hunting dogs aid in their pheasant hunts, as well. If you have access to a trained dog, this can be a tremendous help for flushing out pheasants to give you a shot.


Pheasant hunting is a great way for beginner hunters to get their feet wet in the sport.

Especially in the states listed above, there are a tremendous amount of great pheasant hunting locations due to the ample habitat for pheasants and dense population numbers across the states. If those options aren’t feasible for you, check out your local areas to see what information they offer for pheasant hunts.

For those totally inexperienced, consider finding a private guide in one of these states to cultivate a unique hunting trip for you to enjoy and hopefully succeed in. Regardless of where you go to pheasant hunt, make sure you do so safely, legally, and enjoy the hell out of that amazing experience!   

This article and its images were written and provided by the great folks at 10 Gauge Outfitters. They are very experienced in the area of pheasant hunting. Check them out.