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Calling it “colorful chicken” may be funny only if we are sure to hit the target on the first shot, otherwise the pheasant, mocked by many with this term, shall easily become a demanding prey to capture! Like any wildfowl worthy of its name the authentic specimens shall behave like a warrior, ready to challenge you trying to flee away from the barrel of your shotgun and from the dogs with shrewdness and cunning. Although native to the Far East, the pheasant is present in Italy with diversified concentrations depending on the area but prefers those where water and food as well as a safe shelter for the night are constantly available.

Depending on the season in which you hunt, you may bump into a captive wildfowl, an easy prey which won’t give you a hard time, or a tough experienced one so that you’ll have to display your best skills. The latter won’t tend to fly away, on the contrary it will mainly try to create the widest possible space between you, itself and the pursuers, i.e. the loyal hunting dogs who accompany you in these charming moments. How? If it has the possibility, trailing until it tries to take wing in the farthest and possibly most repaired point.

Your pointing dog will play a fundamental role: in fact, it will have to guide you in the pursuit, avoiding that the pheasant flutters far away and you see, just at that moment, the prey flee, maybe flapping loudly and with a shrill squawking (in case it’s a male). You’ll need to rely on your four-legged hunting fellow. Let your pointing dog do its job, don’t put it under pressure, rather follow the situation extremely closely.

Precisely because of its unpredictabile behaviour, the pheasant will get you to use a shotgun that is as much balanced as possible relatively to its parts (gauge, barrel length etc.), what you can see in the table below. You don’t know your opponent but you can choose the best matching to face it.

Hunting techniqueGaugeBarrel lengthSelf-loading shotgunOver and under /
Side-by-side shotgun
Shotshell G.Lead shots Nr.
Pointing dog 12 66 **** / *** **** / ** -- *** / * 34 / 36 7 / 6 / 5
Pointing dog 20 66 **** / *** **** / ** -- *** / * 28 / 30 7 / 6 / 5
Pointing dog 28 71 **** / *** **** / ** -- *** / * 24 7 / 6
Pointing dog 410 71 **** / *** **** / ** -- *** / * 18 / 19 7 / 6

At the beginning of the season, therefore, when the wildfowl still aren’t much experienced and it’s possibile to come up to them with the dogs shooting at a short distance, a short-barreled self-loading shotgun (about 66 cm) along with medium constriction sizes (**** or **) seems to be ideal. On the other hand, when due to the cold weather the pheasants will have a thicker plumage carrying upon “their wings” several fleeing experiences consequently to hunters who didn’t manage to hit the target, you can opt for an over and under shotgun provided with **** and **chokes, alternatively you can choose the usual combination *** and*. We generally recommend to use interchangeable chokes so as to adjust the cone of fire according to the hunting period and the ground of the environment you are going to enter.

As you have seen the pheasant can manage to try both you and your pointing dog. Do not judge a pheasant without knowing it and valorize hunting such a wildfowl, which is capable of learning new strategies to escape danger. Thanks to our tips and tricks you should now be able to choose the best choke tube and take the inviting (also from a culinary point of view) wildfowl home, conversely, it is for posterity to judge, you are going to be the “colorful chiken” of the two!

You have found our advice useful and are sure that you will put what you have learned into practice on your next hunting trip? Browse beyond this article! Learn how to properly use a choke and all the guides provided by Gemini , drawn up with the help of specialists, for hunting and shooting enthusiasts like you.

Our thanks go to Professor Simone Bertini and Diego Apostoli for their availability and the precious time they devoted to us for the drafting of these guides.