If pheasant hunting conjures images of the great western plains, then you obviously haven’t been to a tower shoot. It’s true that you’re not going to hunt pheasants in South Carolina with any semblance of what it’s like out west, but you can find several places to hunt the big birds in the Palmetto State.

Out west, pheasants will run along wide open fields for hundreds of yards, only taking flight when pushed hard by birds or hunters. They are similar to quail in that regard, and would rather walk than fly. And just like hunting wild quail is almost non-existent in South Carolina these days, hunting wild pheasants here will leave you with worn out boots and an empty bag.

Luckily, hunting preserves across the state offer pheasant hunting, and most of those hunts are tower shoots. When participating in a tower shoot, hunters are assigned stations, usually surrounding some sort of tall structure that serves as the tower. Throughout the hunt, pheasants are periodically released from the tower, and fly in whatever direction they choose. 

The birds usually want to land relatively quickly, and sometimes they are aiming for a food source or water source before they touch down. Either way, their flight path is going to take them over the heads of a number of shooting stations, offering at least one hunting party a shot at it, and more than one if the first party misses, which is not an uncommon occurrence.

It’s not at all as tame as it sounds. The birds are released in quick intervals, and lots of quick shooting ensues. Missed shots are nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s often been referred to as “the most fun you can have with a shotgun.” Watching the dogs gather up the pheasants is a joy itself, and you’ll never see dogs working so quickly as you will see on these hunts. 

While most of the hunts are open to the public, and slots are filled on a first-come-first-serve basis, these hunts are ideal activities for organized fund raisers, corporate outings, or bachelor (or bachelorette) parties. During some hunts, a few of the birds will have ribbons tied to their feet, signifying a “prize bird” with a cash reward or some other gift given to the lucky hunter who bagged that pheasant.

Two of South Carolina’s properties that offer tower shoots include the Clinton House Plantation (864-833-0274) in Clinton, and Field & Fin Adventures (336-259-8300) in Loris. Both locations have openings for their next tower shoots, which take place on Nov. 21. Both include lunch as well, and both will send hunters home with cleaned birds, great memories, and pleasantly sore shoulders.