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Going to and area that has both hen phesant and sharp tail.

Can the sound they make while flushing help ID the difference?


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Sometimes but not always. Sharp-tail grouse (STG) will sometimes vocalize on the flush with a series of rapid calls like "cuk, cuk, cuk" or "cluck, cluck, cluck" but other times they are silent.

Notable physical differences are that STG have very short, stubby, pointed tailfeathers and their breasts have more white feathers as compared to hen pheasants which have longer tails and much more brown in their breast feathers.

Here are some links with more info:
Sharp-tailed Grouse - Tympanuchus phasianellus
This webpage has a good pic of a STG in flight:
https://fwp.mt.gov/hunt/regulations/upland-game-bird


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so the sharp tail do a cuk cuk cuk and the hens are basically silent


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Great answer by Montana L&C. Not a lot to add.

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They do have a ‘softer’ flushing sound than hen pheasants IMO. Is that what you’re asking? Not as high pitched of a whistle sound when they flush, if that makes sense.

You headed to SE Idaho?



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Originally Posted by T_Inman
They do have a ‘softer’ flushing sound than hen pheasants IMO. Is that what you’re asking? Not as high pitched of a whistle sound when they flush, if that makes sense.

You headed to SE Idaho?


Not right now.


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You should have no need to use sound as an identification at all. The visual differences are stark.


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Once you see both flush the visual differences are obvious. We like to call STG “flying footballs”. The wings are shorter and the wing beat pattern is faster than that of a pheasant. The STG will also appear to be lighter than the hen pheasant and the hen pheasant appears more brown.


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I always shoot the ones with the white on them.


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I hunt prairie chickens with dogs. I know its not a sharpie, but they are very similar. I have found alot of half grown pheasants this year. They are very hard to tell the difference on. Look at their breast when they get up. If you see a silver gray under their wings and bars it's a chicken. In your case you'll see white with black dots. Also a grouse will beat, cup and glide, beat cup and glide out of sight sometimes. A pheasant will beat thir wings more and usually not get as high or fly as far. All I can really tell you is identity before you let lead fly good luck

Last edited by Coyote10; 09/26/23.
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A full grown pheasant, it's easy to tell. Hunt them right now in an area packed with young pheasants and it can get tough. They also cluck or giggle when they get up to sometimes.

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The " cuk cuk cuk" of a flushing sharptail is distinctive, but use the visual clues mentioned by others too. I've seen pheasants and sharptails flush together out of the same buffaloberry thicket. The flying football ball description is a good one.

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You can tell the difference when they flush. I am in ND and shot my first ever sharptail (never seen one before) yesterday.

Their cackle when they get up is unmistakeable.

Put up 4 coveys and a few singles today, a rooster and hen pheasant with a 15 month old GSP and 16 month old GWP.

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Yep, those Sharp Tail do a cuk cuk cuk.


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I’ve found by the time grouse do the cuk cuk cuk they’re usually out of range.

There’s really no problem telling them apart at the flush though, I shot the first sharptail I ever saw and that was in an area with way more pheasants than grouse.

You’ll know right away.

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The sharptails we saw hunting in Nodak were different than the sharptails here in SE Idaho. Much more white, much “fluffier” appearance.

If that what you are looking for, I promise you’ll hold your fire on a number of sharptails flushes if you hunt here. Hen pheasants can look VERY similar and young ones especially so.


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I've mistaken a hen pheasant for a sharptail once. I flushed what turned out to be a mixed flock of both on the edge of a grain field. About a dozen birds got up together, I heard "cuk cuk cuk" and I killed a going away brown bird with a short tail. It turned out to be a young hen pheasant. Dang it!


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