Photo illustration by Ralph Smith

How to use the scorching sun to find more early-season Huns, prairie chickens, and sharptails (hint: they go where you’d go).

Most upland bird hunters hate heat. But when you’re hunting sharptails, Huns, and prairie chickens, hot weather can be your best friend. When the sun is beating down, these birds go to shade. Instead of feeling lost, you can target specific areas and save yourself a lot of boot leather. Here’s how.

Find Relief


Illustrations by Jason Schneider

Prior to hunting, scout for areas that provide relief from the heat. The closer they are to food sources, the better. The prime time to catch birds taking to thickets or patches of aspens is late morning through midafternoon. Watch for chickens and sharptails in the air, too. They’ll often lead you to the prime shady spots.

Sneak In


Keep the wind in your face and look for features of the terrain that you can use to get as close as possible without being seen. If you’re working a shelterbelt, have guns on both sides, and if you can post a blocker at the end, do so. When a dog goes on point, walk up quickly but quietly and cover the exits—the back door in particular.

Get Some Sleepers


Birds in heavy cover typically give you closer, more manageable flushes than those in the grass, so a Full choke is overkill. Go with Improved Cylinder or, at the tightest, Modified. Just remember to reload fast after the initial flush because there’s almost always a sleeper or two that will fly when you think the cover is empty.