For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Chimeng Yang to talk to us about bird hunting because Lily Moore, the main character in my novel A Strike to the Heart, is also an avid bird hunter. Chimeng is also going to share with us how bird dogs are a helpful part of this method of food provision.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado … Chimeng, please introduce yourself and tell us something interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.
My name is Chimeng Yang. I have heard the howling of a large pack of wolves at night time. It still gives me the chills thinking about it.
I understand you are a hunter, specifically a bird hunter … can you give us a little of your background?
I found hunting later in life. Growing up in the rural area of Sheboygan, WI, I was always intrigued about the rich hunting traditions of my friends and neighbors. Most notably, how they were able to provide food for their families and friends. Bird hunting was my first step into the hunting and I found that the dogs is what is best about the experience. This led to hunting a wide variety of wild game.
What sets bird hunting apart from deer hunting, or other types of hunting? Is there a particular season for fowl hunting versus other types of hunting?
In the hunting world, there is upland hunting (pheasants, grouse, woodcock, quail, partridge, wild turkey, etc…) and there is waterfowl (ducks and geese). This is not just a distinction in the hunting vocabulary, but also, wildlife agencies use these terms to ensure proper regulations per species.
Understanding that each state manages it’s own wildlife to different rules and regulations—so what in one state may be true to some but not others. Now what sets apart bird hunting from deer hunting, in my opinion, is 1. the capability of the usage of a dog and 2. the ways of take you are able to use, meaning the use of a shotgun versus bow or rifle.
I am going to make generalizations to show distinctions. Certainly there are many ways to hunt, but for educational purposes, I will choose the most common ways. For upland game hunting, a hunter will follow their dog and find birds. It’s pretty simple. For waterfowl hunting, the most common way is to sit on the water’s edge in a blind or in a cornfield or food source field, use decoys to visually attract the bird and use calls to mimic bird calls and have the duck or goose come in to land and then be able to harvest. Most common ways in Wisconsin to hunt deer are finding areas like food sources, travel corridors and sit in a blind or tree stand and wait for the deer to come walk past.
Without going deep into the regulations, outside of turkey hunting ,which happens in the spring, all hunt seasons are in the fall. Start and end dates are different state to state.
Are there specific hunting laws (related to Wisconsin) that you must adhere to in regards to fowl hunting? What does that look like?
The most common rule, and this is a federal rule, is that waterfowl must be harvested with non-toxic shot, meaning no lead. This was set in place in early 90s due to the concerns of lead poisoning in migratory birds. This also pertains to any type of hunting in federal waterfowl production areas. Non-toxic ammo must be used regardless of game hunted when it comes to bird hunting in these areas.
I want to clarify that the cause of lead poisoning is not because a hunter wounded a bird and the bird flew off, it is due to the biology of waterfowl and the usage of the gizzard. A duck or goose needs to eat stones, pebbles, and small rocks to store in their gizzard to grind their food to be able to digest it. The digestion of lead pellets for this reason would cause death in the bird.
As a bird hunter, do you use dogs? What breed are they and how do they help you hunt?
Yes, I have a dog for hunting upland game (pheasants, grouse, woodcock). His name is Scout, and he is a German Wirehaired Pointer.
I think it would be helpful to understand the two types of dogs used for bird hunting. You have pointers and flushers. Most common pointing breeds are german shorthaired pointers, german wirehaired pointers, english setters, and english pointers. Most common flushing breeds are retrievers and spaniels. Both create two different hunt styles and experiences.
A pointer does exactly what it’s name refers to. When a pointer comes across a good scent of a bird, it points it’s nose at the direction of the scent. This signals the hunter to go and try to flush (get the bird to fly) to shoot the bird. A flusher on the other hand, will smell the bird and do all it can to catch it. As it tries, the bird flushes once it feels the pressure and the hunter will need to quickly try and shoot.
It also depends on where you are hunting that a pointer or flusher will have advantages. A pointer tends to range farther out and covers a lot of ground, which in dense woodland or mountain terrains, you will need a dog to range far and sometimes miles to find game. A flusher works close to the hunter so fields with thick cover gives flushers advantage as the hunter may not be walking through as fast.
Retrievers are also known for being great duck hunting dogs, as they have webbed feet to make them great swimmers and do exactly as their name states. Certainly, there a lot more characteristics of each kind of dog, but this is the main distinction.
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw today’s Sunday Dinner to a close. Thank you, Chimeng, for joining us today! Chimeng has more to tell us about hunting, such as what the type of information he believes is important to know, for both hunters and non-hunters.
In the meantime, grab your copy of A Strike to the Heart, to meet Lily Moore and her bird dogs. In the book, Lily expresses a similar opinion on hunting as Chimeng will share over Sunday Dinner next week. See you then!