cattail strategy

To my general way of thinking pheasant hunting is very simple, but that doesn't make it easy. I'm just wondering if there's any particular strategy when hunting cattails? Also wondering if anyone has luck hunting the very large blocks of tails or if there's just too much there to tackle? I have a piece of private land that is almost all thick cattails, not sure if there's any point in doing anything other than hunting the edge.
 

jonnyB

Active member
Hunting thick cattails...not a fun endeavor.

Very difficult to find downed birds or follow cripples. And what about the water? frozen yet?

Later in the season, when frozen, the edge can be very productive; hunt the sparse edge vs the thickest.

Some hunters hunt with hip boots...assuming the thin ice will give way.

Good Luck!
 

hunter94

Active member
Hunting thick cattails...not a fun endeavor.

Very difficult to find downed birds or follow cripples. And what about the water? frozen yet?

Later in the season, when frozen, the edge can be very productive; hunt the sparse edge vs the thickest.

Some hunters hunt with hip boots...assuming the thin ice will give way.

Good Luck!
so far, way to dangerous this season to hunt tails and sloughs.
 

McFarmer

Member
My favorite type of pheasant hunting. Follow a deer trail and have a dog that likes to push their way through.
 
I hunt quite a few cattails but have generally found that the huge parcels that are a "never ending sea of cattails" generally don't produce the greatest. There is just too much cover for the birds, they really don't have to get up unless you dang near step on one. When you do shoot one, retrieving one seems to be difficult, even with the best of dogs. They are tough to walk, nothing worse then getting a half mile in on cattails then still having to get a half mile back out.

Smaller, narrower cattail strips, or football field size areas within some other cover, they seem to produce very well and are usually what I search for. As far as tactics, hunt slow, stop often. Your footing isn't always the greatest - quickly push through the areas that don't present a great shot, slow down in the areas that do produce a quality shot opportunity. Use the wind. Push the birds to areas you still have access to if possible. Lots of them get up at the very end when they are finally out of cover.

In south central MN, they are still not froze over the greatest. I went through a few spots last week that ranged from knee to hip high. Unfortunately I just kept thinking "a little further in will produce a bird" but all it did was produce more wet boots and clothes... Hopefully after this mid-week cold snap all cattails will be good the remainder of the year.
 
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jmnhunter

New member
I hunt quite a few cattails but have generally found that the huge parcels that are a "never ending sea of cattails" generally don't produce the greatest. There is just too much cover for the birds, they really don't have to get up unless you dang near step on one. When you do shoot one, retrieving one seems to be difficult, even with the best of dogs. They are tough to walk, nothing worse then getting a half mile in on cattails then still having to get a half mile back out.

Smaller, narrower cattail strips, or football field size areas within some other cover, they seem to produce very well and are usually what I search for. As far as tactics, hunt slow, stop often. Your footing isn't always the greatest - quickly push through the areas that don't present a great shot, slow down in the areas that do produce a quality shot opportunity. Use the wind. Push the birds to areas you still have access to if possible. Lots of them get up at the very end when they are finally out of cover.

In south central MN, they are still not froze over the greatest. I went through a few spots last week that ranged from knee to hip high. Unfortunately I just kept thinking "a little further in will produce a bird" but all it did was produce more wet boots and clothes... Hopefully after this mid-week cold snap all cattails will be good the remainder of the year.
x2; i like to find the smaller chunks, but I prefer willow patches myself although those are tough to walk through; also the type of cattails matters and snow cover. we hunted a few this past weekend and there were alot of tracks in them, but the under-cover was easy for any bird to run through, only flushed one in the cattails
 

goldenboy

Well-known member
I hunt a lot of cattails. They are usually very productive. When the birds are in there you just have to keep pushing. Lots will get up out of range and make you want to hurry, take your time I have shot lots of roosters that tried to hide instead of flush when they others left. As far as finding them, mark the spot and usually if you can get the dog to the spot they find them quickly.
 

Kismet

UPH Guru
And...as most who have done it find out, when your foot in its 16 inch boot sinks down in to swamp mire up to your hip, be very slow and deliberate in your moves to extricate yourself. The mire will take off your boot more easily than you put it on. I've been told swamps can cause exertion that can induce a heart attack, and, probably, the occasional drowning.

wacherass, eh?

Kis
 

Labs

Member
I love hunting cattails after freeze up. Labs are fantastic all around gun dogs, but they really excel at digging birds out of cattails. It really doesn't get any better than a lab going under snow & matted cattails and a rooster blowing out of the snow with the dog right on it's tail feathers!

My strategy is simple. Find frozen cattails reasonably close to a food source, add labs, and hunt into the wind. I found the best shooting is in smaller sloughs (narrow is better, no more than 40-50 yards of cover wide), particularly those that deer are using as they make trails in the cattails. I like to follow the deer trails through the crud (the birds also use them and the openings) and let the dogs work to either side of me. I hunt with insulated hip or chest waders even after freeze up, just in case...
 
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jonnyB

Active member
Just returned from SD and...sloughs are not frozen! West of Chamberlain a ways.

My partner went in with one foot and a day later I went in with both, enough to fill one boot.

I wear a high gaiter that I waterproofed - that helped keep most of the water out. And of course I forgot to bring an extra pair of socks and boots. It was late in the day so I kept on trucking with one wet foot.

In retrospect, wrapping poly around the gaiter, top and bottom would keep most of the water out,assuming you aren't in over your knees!

We hunted the edge of the tails and were productive. There isn't a swamp/slough my Golden doesn't love so I just follow along. He did have a rather rude awakening - pointing a coyote. Normally the yote would be miles away, not this one. He bit my dog in the nose and scampered away. I was too concerned with the dog vs getting a shot off. Dog was OK, kept on hunting.

Snow blocked several fields and 16" of the stuff made it tough going. One side of the sorghum fields completely filled with snow and impassable. I have been hunting for lots of years and this was one of the most difficult two day's I can recall. We came home a day early!

Be careful out there everyone!!
 
I love hunting cattails after freeze up. Labs are fantastic all around gun dogs, but they really excel at digging birds out of cattails. It really doesn't get any better than a lab going under snow & matted cattails and a rooster blowing out of the snow with the dog right on it's tail feathers!

My strategy is simple. Find frozen cattails reasonably close to a food source, add labs, and hunt into the wind. I found the best shooting is in smaller sloughs (narrow is better, no more than 40-50 yards of cover wide), particularly those that deer are using as they make trails in the cattails. I like to follow the deer trails through the crud (the birds also use them and the openings) and let the dogs work to either side of me. I hunt with insulated hip or chest waders even after freeze up, just in case...
That's a good idea.I just hunted a car tail Creek a few days ago.There were birds in there, but the ice was too thin, and that crick was deep!! I didn't want my dog in there, very dangerous! Hip boots would have come in handy, in that place, but I couldn't cross the crick.
 
Cattails are made for labs and Goldens. Just plan on getting wet, this year was exceptionally bad, got wet in places I have never gotten wet at before. Large patches don't scare me, just take shots where you can mark the birds well. Remember your dog can't see s#$% from where he is at and he is going to be surrounded by bird scent. Even the big spots have deer trails, which the birds use just as well. Remember a spare pair of boots.
 
Cattails are made for labs and Goldens. Just plan on getting wet, this year was exceptionally bad, got wet in places I have never gotten wet at before. Large patches don't scare me, just take shots where you can mark the birds well. Remember your dog can't see s#$% from where he is at and he is going to be surrounded by bird scent. Even the big spots have deer trails, which the birds use just as well. Remember a spare pair of boots.
Cattails can be hard on a lab, and hunter!!
 
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