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Utah Bird Hunting – Dogs in the Off Season

What does your bird dog do in the off season?

We all know that man’s best friend and hunting partners are high energy animals that almost always have energy to burn. One question that I get from our hunters on a regular basis is how I keep my dogs busy in the off season? I have a 6 year old German shorthaired pointer who we call Rudy that is constantly on the go. When he isn’t chasing pheasants or quail for me during the fall and winter months I keep him busy as a family and farm dog.

Here at Pleasant Valley we cultivate the majority of our areas with different crops that are ideal for pheasant hunting and habitat. This requires a large amount of time and energy on our end and sometimes it is good to have a friend alongside you. Rudy is my right hand man when it comes to changing sprinklers and running equipment. He is with me almost on a daily basis as we cruse around the farm checking crops and changing water. 

When we’re not farming Rudy spends time with the family on the mountain fishing or in the spring looking for shed antlers. This kind of off season activity is perfect for both Rudy and I. Chasing birds all day can be extremely tasking on a both the hunter and the dog. By staying active in the summer and spring months we are ready and roaring to go by the time September and October roll around. It is also a great way to keep Rudy’s obedience training sharp as we work together on keeping him tuned up throughout the summer months. 

If you are looking for ways to keep your dog busy in the off season consider taking them hiking, fishing, or camping. These kinds of activities will keep you and your dog in shape and allow for plenty of opportunities for your dog to brush up on their obedience during the off season.

Don’t forget that if you’re looking for a place to keep your dog active in the summer or spring to give us a call. We allow you to come and run your dogs through some of Utah’s best pheasant hunting ground even in the offseason. 

-Nick Woodland, Hunting manager at Pleasant Valley Hunting Preserve

First Rooster Down

First Rooster Down
It was a crisp November evening. The sun sat lazily on the western sky as the glow of sunset started to cast shadows on its surroundings. I grew excited as I laced up my boots. I could hear what seemed to be the world’s biggest rooster pheasant crow somewhere in the wash behind my house. I looked up at my dad and his smile met mine. I had my boots on now and I couldn’t get off the back porch fast enough. Dad handed me the single shot 20 gauge before he crawled between the barbwire fence in our backyard. We were going on my first pheasant hunt. I was nine years old, and this single experience will have changed my life forever.
We walked in silence as we made our way across the hay field behind the house. Not much could be heard besides the jingle of the bell that hung around Copper’s neck. He was THE greatest bird dog a boy could ask for. Copper was large for a German short haired pointer. He carried a beautiful liver colored head that fit well with his liver speckled body. We rescued him from a breeder that was a little too unkind to the old boy. He always acted grateful for the way we treated him, and repaid our kindness by becoming one of my best friends.
We were getting closer to the edge of the mouth of the grease wood and Russian olive filled draw now, and Copper was beginning to get birdy. I was told to keep my eye on him and to watch closely to how he moved. I had seen Copper work several times before but something about this time was different. Maybe it was the fact that this would be my first time actually shooting over him that made my heart beat a little faster. I watched him like a hawk, studying his every move. He was starting to move slower as we approached the biggest Russian olive thicket there was. I looked at my dad and he nodded. It was time for me to take things with a little more seriousness.
All of the sudden Copper’s leg came up and what was left of a frost scarred tail stuck straight out. He was on point and my heart skipped a beat. I clicked my gun off safety and pulled back the hammer. Dad saw that I was ready, and at the slight sound of his “hissssst” Copper dove into the thicket. An explosion of cackle and bright red feathers broke through the sky as a giant ring neck rooster broke through the top of the thicket. I swung around and fired. The minute I hit the trigger that poor rooster ended up in the top of a Russian olive. That tree slowed him down enough for my untrained eye to put a bead on him and bring him down. As the feathers settled all was quite. My legs shook as I looked up to see dad’s face beaming as he exclaimed, “you got him, you got him! Great shot!” It was more the tree’s fault more than mine that the rooster lost his life that eventful day, but I couldn’t have been prouder of myself. Copper made a flawless retrieve, and we made our way home as the sun continued to set.
It took the walk home for my nerves to settle enough that I could actually speak. That night defined a little bit of who I am and will continue to impact my life. One rooster is all it took to define my career and life. I am now the hunting manager at Pleasant Valley Hunting Preserve and I strive to ensure that all that come and hunt at Pleasant Valley have every opportunity to build memories like mine.

-Nick Woodland

Nicks first pheasant

Shotgun Shot Size

4, 5, 6, and 7 1/2 shot

Each morning as we greet people and get them checked in, there is a list of typical questions that we ask. We might ask if their dogs are ready to go, or if they need a description of their area and its boundaries. One question we usually ask before they walk away though is if they have enough shells. That question, if answered with a yes, is followed with this question: Are they hunting loads? Many times, people look at us confused, because they didn’t stop to think if they needing something different from what they normally shoot.
We’d like to address that, and hopefully explain the reasoning behind it.
All shotgun loads, no matter the caliber, are loaded with different size of shot, or BB’s. The larger the number, the smaller the BB’s will be. All sizes of shot have different uses, and have times when they should (and should not!) be used. We aren’t going to go over all sizes of shot, but rather we will address the most common size of shells used for pheasant hunting.

7 ½ and 8 shot
These are some of the smallest shot we commonly see. It is the cheapest to buy, so some hunters buy it not realizing it is NOT what is recommended for bird hunting out here. Some use it for small birds, such as quail and doves, but when it comes to pheasants, it simply doesn’t cut it out here. Its best use will be up on our clay range for target practice on clay pigeons.
Best use: Target practice and skeet shooting

6 shot
The lightest of all the pheasant loads we sell, 6 shot is the next step up from the target loads. This lighter load is a good load to use in early fall, before first frosts have set in, when the birds have not fully feathered up. After they have fully feathered up, however, 6 shot is not as effective.
Best use: Early fall hunting

5 Shot
5 shot is the most common size of load for pheasant hunting. It is a great load that will carry you through the year. It be something that you can use from September, when are season starts, through the winter, and clear until the end of March when our season wraps up. It has good penetration on the pheasant and chukars’ layers of thick winter feathers, and will bring down whatever upland game you can hit.
Best use: Yearlong upland hunting

4 Shot
This is the heaviest load that we sell at PVHP. It is twice as heavy and as large as 8 shot, and has the weight to drop anything you may be shooting at. Because it is a bigger load, it can do more damage to the meat on your birds, so it should be used with that understanding. However, on windy and stormy days, 4 shot is a great load to cut through the bitter wind and still be able to bring your game down.
Best use: Cold winter and stormy weather hunting

Should you have any questions as to what load would be best for your hunt, any of us at PVHP would be glad to answer your question. We also stock all of the loads that have been named, so should you ever need some shells for hunting, you can pick them up here when you come out for a hunt.
We look forward to seeing you!

PVHP Pheasant Recipes

Pheasant Hunting in Utah

Many people have tried and true recipes that they always go to when they get home from hunting. Over the years, we’ve had a few people share their favorites with us, and many times we’ve had people ask us for some recipes that we like to use.
Hopefully, these will work for you. Enjoy, and we’ll see you hunting!


Easy Pheasant L’orange (In a Crockpot)

• 1 Jar Orange Marmalade (approx. 16 oz.)
• 1 Packet Onion Soup Mix
• 1 Bottle Russian Salad dressing (approx. 16 oz.)
• 4-5 Pheasant Breasts
• 1 Tbls Oil

Brown pheasant in a pan in oil. Mix first three ingredients and set aside. Add pheasant to crockpot and pour sauce over meat. Cook on low for 10 hours or so. Serve with rice.



Pheasant Marsala

• 4 Pheasant Breasts Skinned and cut into pieces
• 1-1/2 Cups Seasoned flour (salt, pepper, and parsley flakes)
• 3 eggs, beaten
• 3 Cups dry bread crumbs
• 2 Tbls Oil
• 2 Tbls Butter
• ½ lb. fresh button mushrooms
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• ½ Cup Marsala wine
• 1 Cup Chicken stock or broth
• 4 Carrots cut into “French fry” sticks

Prepare the pheasant as indicated. Place the seasoned flour in a medium sized brown bag. Add the pheasant pieces, a few at a time, then shake to dust the pheasant. Dip each piece in the egg, and then roll in the bread crumbs. In a large fry pan or skillet heat the butter and oil over a medium high heat. Add the coated pheasant’s pieces and coat brown well on both sides. Remove the pheasant from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add the mushrooms and garlic. Sauté for one about a minute. Sprinkle 2 rounded tablespoons of seasoned flour over the pan and stir well. Add the Marsala, stock/broth and carrot sticks. Return the pheasant, cover and continue to cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serves 6-8.

Goes well with just about any side dish, especially boiled noodle and baked acorn squash.


Pheasant Enchiladas

• 1 pheasant, cleaned and prepared (legs and breasts)
• 1 C. Sour Cream
• 1 can cream of chicken soup
• Small can of green chilis
• 1 C. Grated cheese
• Flour Taco Shells

Boil pheasant meat until tender. Cool and cut meat off bone, slice into strips. Place meat in large bowl. Add sour cream, cream of chicken soup, small can of green chilies, and grated cheese. Mix well with spoon. Fill soft flour taco shells with mix and place in a baking dish. After 1 layer, sprinkle top with cheese and spread some more mix on top. Repeat layers as desired. Bake at 350 degrees until warm.



Pheasant Parmesan

• 2 Cups chopped Broccoli (cooked)
• 3 Tbls Margarine or Butter
• 3 Tbls All-purpose flour
• 1/8 tsp Pepper
• 1 Dash Nutmeg
• ¾ Cup light cream or milk
• ½ Cup shredded Swiss cheese
• 2 Tbls Dry white wine
• *1-1/2 Cups cooked pheasant breasts
• 3 Tbls grated Parmesan cheese
• 1 Dash Paprika
• *Broth

*Use broth from cooking pheasant. Cook Broccoli. Arrange cooked broccoli in a 10”x6”x2” dish. Melt Margarine or butter, stir in flour, pepper, nutmeg, and add cream or milk and chicken broth. Stir until thick and bubbly. Add cheese and stir until melted. Pour half of the sauce over broccoli, top with cooked pheasant, cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan and paprika. Bake 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.



Succulent Baked Pheasant

Yield: 6-8 Servings
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 1/2 hours

• 2 Tbls Butter
• 2 Tbls Flour
• 1 C Light Cream
• 1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
• 2 Tbls Chopped Fresh Parsley
• 1/4 tsp Paprika
• 1/2 C Sherry

• 3/4 C Flour
• 1 Tbls. Lemon Pepper
• 6-8 Pheasant Breasts
• 3 Tbls Vegetable Oil
• 4 Tbls Butter or Margarine

In a medium size sauce pan, melt butter. Add flour gradually and cook for 2 minutes without browning. Add cream and stir until thick. Add soup, Parsley, Paprika, and sherry. Set aside and keep warm.
Mix flour with lemon pepper. Roll breasts in seasoned flour. Pan brown in oil. Place breasts in a 9×13 casserole with a dot of butter or margarine under each breast. Pour Warmed sauce over breasts covering each one completely. Cover casserole and bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees.



Mushroom Pheasant

• 1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
• 1/2 C Sour Cream
• 1/2 C Milk
• 1/2 C Flour
• 1 tsp Salt
• 1/4 tsp Pepper
• 4 Pheasant Breasts, Cubed
• 1/4 C Vegetable Oil
• 8 oz Whole Mushrooms
• 1 Medium onion, cut into 8
• 1/4 tsp Thyme

Heat oven to 300 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, blend soup, sour cream, and milk; set aside. In a large plastic food storage bag combine flour, salt, and pepper; shake to mix. Add pheasant pieces; brown pheasant in vegetable oil on all sides. Place pheasant in a casserole pan. Add Mushrooms, onion, thyme, and soup mixture. Cover and bake until pheasant is tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.



Grilled Pheasant Soy Sauce Marinade

• 1 C. Soy Sauce
• 1 C. Vegetable oil
• 1 Can 7up/Sprite
• 1 Tbls Garlic Salt
• 4-5 Pheasant breasts

Combine Soy Sauce, Oil, 7UP, and salt in a 1 gallon Ziploc bag, and shake thoroughly. Add pheasant breasts, and shake for a few seconds more. Leave in fridge minimum of 4-5 hours, or can be left up overnight. Grill until cooked through.