Early Risers Find the Birds

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If the world were split between early risers and night owls, I’d be in the group hooting at the moon.  However, mom once predicted my alarm clock settings would change about the same time I developed a taste for Brussels sprouts.  This spring, I planted 28 Brussels sprouts in my garden, taking up almost 50 percent of the available space.  Yeah, you guessed it; my alarm clock setting has been slowly dialing back as straggling gray whiskers show up in my beard.
 
The obvious benefit to my new embrace of sunrises is better bird hunting.  I know this is a strange revelation coming from a guy who frequently touts the “Golden Hour” as the best time of the day to pheasant hunt.  However let me offer two big reasons in support of my sunrise theory:
 
1)      Catch Roosters Leaving the Roost.  While states have opening starts to the hunting day as varied as one half hour before sunrise all the way till noon on opening weekend in South Dakota, seasoned hunters will tell you to be in the field as early as legal shooting time allows.  In states like North Dakota and Kansas, it’s legal to begin your day’s pheasant hunt a half hour before sunrise.  This caffeinated starting time allows the early rising hunter to catch birds still in grassy roosting areas before disappearing into the standing fields of corn, sunflowers, or other crops.  This advantage wanes as crops are harvested and the season marches toward winter, but the days get shorter too.
 
2)      Dewy Scenting Conditions.  Moist conditions hold scent much better than dry conditions.  Just ask a Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, or Nebraska hunter how tough it was to find birds last fall when they hadn’t received rain in months.  A big part of the equation is the dog’s ability to locate scent.  A dewy morning presents excellent conditions for your bird dog to tip the scales in your advantage.  As the dew evaporates, so does that birdy scent and your hopes of a daily bag limit.
 
So what do you think, do you prefer the first hour of the day to catch those early rising “alarm clock” roosters, or are you a fan of the last glimmer of the day’s “golden hour?”
 
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.