Monday, March 31, 2014

Utah - Help needed to raise pheasant chicks

You can help conserve wildlife in Utah, and make this fall's pheasant hunt better, by adopting pheasant chicks, raising the birds, and then releasing them into the wild.

If you join Utah’s Day-old Pheasant Chick program, you can adopt a chick this spring, raise it through the summer and release it this fall.

In mid May, the Division of Wildlife Resources will obtain 2,500 to 3,000 pheasant chicks, both roosters and hens. The chicks will be only one day old when the DWR obtains them from a commercial bird grower.

DWR staff will then provide the chicks to individuals, families and groups who have agreed to participate in the agency's Day-old Pheasant Chick program.

If you join the program, you'll raise the chicks to adulthood. Then, before the general pheasant hunt starts in November, you'll help release the birds into the wild.

The pheasants will be released on state wildlife and waterfowl management areas, walk-in access areas and private land that provides access to public hunters.

If you participate, Dean Mitchell, Conservation Outreach Section chief for the DWR, says you must cover all of the expenses to feed, vaccinate and house the birds.

Information about the facilities needed to raise pheasants, and tips that will help you raise the birds, are available at

Once you arrive at the page, scroll through the listings until you find the 'Adopt pheasant chicks' subhead.

"Before you enter the program," Mitchell says, "please read this information. It will help you decide if the program is for you."

In addition to providing more birds to hunt, Mitchell says raising birds will give you a chance to get involved in wildlife conservation. And it should be a lot of fun.

"Raising a pheasant, from a chick to an adult, is a terrific activity that helps kids and adults understand some of the challenges wildlife face as they grow," Mitchell says. "Raising a chick will be an experience you won't soon forget."

After reviewing the information at, you can participate in the program by calling the following DWR office nearest you:

Telephone number
Cedar City

Bad weather, habitat losshard on South Dakota pheasants

By Annie King

Ringneck populations

As for pheasant numbers, there has been a significant drop. In 2013, the statewide pheasant per square mile was 1.52, which is a 64 percent drop from 2012, which was at 4.19 birds per square mile, according to a brood survey.

Thompson said reasons for pheasant decline are in some ways similar to the deer decline.
“With a combination of poor weather conditions and also a large loss in habitat, it has resulted in a sharp decline in pheasant numbers,” Thompson said, adding that about two million acres of grassland have been converted into cropland over the past five to seven years. 

Hunters noticed the decline this past hunting season. 

“I have two teenage boys and we went out hunting for 11 days and, between the three of us, we shot four birds,” said Ray Ireland, of Aberdeen. “We didn’t even harvest a deer this year, either. Hunting was a disappointment this year.”

Colorado winter may benefit pheasants

While it's still quite early, current evaluations suggest little population impact due to winter weather and some potential improvement relative to two years of drought-induced declines.

"I don't have a crystal ball, but there is at least improvement this year in terms of soil moisture," said Ed Gorman, small game manager for CPW. "We've already set the stage in terms of nesting habitat, but not necessarily for brooding. Brood habitat develops a little later than nesting habitat, so the moisture we got a month ago doesn't really affect it. We still need moisture in late April and early May."

Gorman anticipates a relatively strong nesting cycle after a fairly typical winter for Colorado's most popular upland game birds. But should drought conditions return this spring, an ensuing lack of food and cover will challenge chicks to survive. Even snow will be welcome on the plains for a while.
"Every time it gets dry, you take a double hit of no food and no habitat," Gorman said. "When you have a blizzard, you at least get moisture to grow habitat. You can lose some birds, but it also serves to rebuild habitat, which in the end is what drives these populations anyway. I'll take winter moisture every time over drought."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

PA Program evolves as some farms pull out of CREP - Pheasant Habitat

By John Zaktansky

Just shy of a decade ago, Peter Aiken — a longtime Pennsylvania Game Commission specialist, family friend and advocate of resuscitating the region’s pheasant population — had just finishing running his bird dogs at our family’s small farm in rural McEwensville.

“Have you heard about the Wild Pheasant Recovery Program they’re starting around here?” he asked us while packing up his gear.

Aiken shared the basic details — that some local farmers who were enrolled the state’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and would be planting a variety of habitat-boosting grasses and other cover crops would be working with the local Pheasants Forever chapter in the WPRP. Once the habitats were created, wild pheasants from South Dakota would be trapped and released on local properties with the hopes of jumpstarting a natural pheasant population.

“It all sounds great,” he said at the time. “But my big concern is what happens if the farmers decide to leave the program and go back to crop farming? What will happen to the habitat? What will happen to the pheasants?”

Keyword: “habitat.”

Out of all the theories of why the previously robust pheasant population in our area suddenly disappeared, the loss of critical habitat was always the key factor.

So far, a success - Read the rest of the Daily Item article

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pheasants Forever, partners purchase $852,000 147 acre parcel in Nobles County MN

The Nobles County Pheasants Forever Chapter, in partnership with a multitude of local and state agencies, purchased a 147-acre parcel — its 32nd land acquisition — at auction Monday to expand its wildlife habitat corridor in Bigelow Township, south of Worthington

Purchased for $5,800 an acre — or $852,000 for the parcel — from Frederick and Cathleen King and the Richard Long estate, the property contains a wetland and is divided by the Ocheyedan River. It will officially be dedicated in a noon ceremony Oct. 11 during the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener in Nobles County.

The property had long been identified by Pheasants Forever, Worthington Public Utilities (WPU) and the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District (OOWD) for acquisition.

“This has been on the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District’s radar for 20 years, and Pheasants Forever has made inquiries for the last four or five years,” said Nobles County Pheasants Forever President Scott Rall.

“When the property came for sale … we had to organize our partners and be able to act within three and a half weeks.”

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pheasant with Mushroom & Wild Rice Chowder

I've bumped into a lot of hunters who say that their favorite way to eat pheasant is with condensed cream of mushroom soup and serving it over rice. I'm typically not a big fan of cooking anything in canned soup, but I can see how the flavors work. Here's something like that, but in chowder form-- without the can. I don't know why, but I have been on a soup kick lately, even in 90-100 degree weather. If you're weird like me, you'll like this recipe. It's thick, creamy and delicious, and also very easy to make. Or, you can save this one for colder weather. It would be perfect for when you're stuck inside, and it's 20 degrees and snowing outside... but let's not think about that now. Yikes! 

I would offer you more summer grilling recipes, but Rick will have to take care of that for now. I currently do not have access to a grill and my apartment complex is weird about its rules. If everything goes as planned, Rick will finally be out here in a couple months. Hooray!

While making this recipe, I've also discovered Land O' Lakes Fat Free Half-and-Half. You can use regular half-and-half, but I'm trying to watch what I eat, so I was happy to discover this product. I'm sure there are a lot of studies about how some fat free products like this one might not be all that good for you, but getting a heart attack from a high fat, natural diet isn't exactly desirable neither.  Everything in moderation, I say. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

2013 - 2014 Winter Pheasant Habitat Conditions Report

Two factors are of critical importance to maintaining healthy pheasant populations: weather and available habitat. While these elements affect pheasants year-round, they’re highlighted annually as the harshest season comes to an end and pheasants begin their next reproductive cycle. A tough winter can certainly result in adult bird mortality, but the real key is getting healthy and strong hens into spring nesting season. Healthy hens lead to larger clutches of eggs, which adds up to more chicks headed toward autumn.

Generally speaking, the winter of 2013-2014 was toughest on pheasants and pheasant habitat in the Great Lakes region where heavy snows and bitter cold made for a long winter that continues despite the calendar turning to spring.  Meanwhile, the Dakotas experienced a relatively mild winter, while the lack of snow accumulation across parts of the Great Plains has biologists concerned, the moisture being needed to restore habitat conditions following three years of drought. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown:

Editor’s Note: Additional states may be added as information becomes available.

South Dakota
South Dakota’s pheasant range has received only about 50 percent of its normal snowfall this winter, which is good news for the nation’s largest pheasant population. “Pheasant winter survival is higher when there is minimal snow cover such as this past winter,” says Travis Runia, lead pheasant biologist with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department, “The winter has not been stressful to pheasants this year and we expect that survival was higher than normal. Our population usually increases after winters with below normal snowfall, given nesting conditions are also favorable.” Runia notes a very severe blizzard did occur in the western quarter of South Dakota, which likely resulted in high mortality of pheasants outside their primary range, but in the rest of the state’s cattail sloughs and shelterbelts are providing excellent winter habitat due to the limited snow cover. With hopes turning to a productive breeding season, the state’s Pheasant Habitat Work Group, appointed by Governor Dennis Daugaard, continues its work. “The group is tasked with reviewing the many habitat-related comments received in conjunction with the Governor’s Pheasant Habitat Summit, which was held in December,” Runia says, “The group will deliver a report to the governor with a list of practical solutions to the many threats to pheasant habitat in the state by the summer of 2014.” With fingers crossed for a productive spring nesting season, South Dakota appears set for an autumn pheasant rebound.

North Dakota
Winter started out early and extreme in December, but since then, pheasants have been spared from brutal conditions. “A lack of snow has provided many feeding areas, birds are able to feed on uplands, and little stress has been noted in birds because they can get to food,” reports Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor with the North Dakota Game & Fish Department. Snow cover may even be too low in some areas. “The lack of snow cover to date may set the stage for dry conditions throughout many counties in southwest North Dakota that were showing borderline drought conditions late last summer,” Kohn said, noting that snowfall in the state’s pheasant range is about 50 percent below normal. And at the northern edge of pheasant country, North Dakota hasn’t fully escaped winter’s wrath until May. “A big unknown will be weather conditions in this part of the country in the next six weeks,” Kohn says, “Late spring snowstorms can be a real problem with pheasants in March and early April.” While grassland conversion is continuing at a rapid pace in North Dakota, Kohn notes his department is promoting new habitat options for expired/expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands, as the North Dakota Game & Fish Department has received a $1.9 million grant through the state’s Outdoor Heritage Fund to direct toward this effort.

Serious winter weather arrived early in Minnesota and hasn’t left yet. “This has been an extremely cold winter. Many areas have experienced more than 50 days with minimum air temperatures at or below 0°F,” says Nicole Davros, upland game project leader with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, “Snow drifts have filled all but the largest cattail marshes, so good winter cover has become more limited. Birds are taking advantage of food plots and are utilizing roadsides in areas where the snow has become too deep or crusted over.” Davros notes deep snow didn’t develop until late January, and the deepest snow depths occurred outside the state’s core pheasant range. And within that core range – west-central, southwest, and south-central areas of the state – strong winds helped keep fields open for feeding. While the winter has been tough at times, it pales in comparison to the 58,000 acres of undisturbed grassland habitat lost in the state’s pheasant range. To combat this acreage loss, Minnesota continues to permanently protect habitat through land acquisition via its voter-approved Legacy Amendment. Hunters will be happy to hear the state is also expanding its Walk-in Access (WIA) program from 28 to 35 counties in 2014.

Snowfall has been significant in northeast, north-central, and the east-central regions of Iowa, continuing an unprecedented run of snowy winters topping more than 30” of accumulation. History says that doesn’t bode well for the pheasant population, but that’s presuming a wetter-than-normal spring ensues, which is typical after a snowy winter. Areas that didn’t receive as much snow this year included the southwest and west-central regions of Iowa, according to Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Bogenschutz is optimistic that pheasant and quail numbers can improve in the southern half of the state this year, and the best bit of news is once continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signups begin, 50,000 acres will be available through the Iowa Pheasant Recovery program.

See more states and read the complete Pheasants Forever Pheasant Blog post

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pheasant Hunting For Beginners - New Colorado Program

Novice Hunter Program goes from classroom to field.

Pheasant season is one of the high points on Colorado's sporting calendar. But for new hunters, figuring out how to successfully harvest Colorado roosters can be frustrating.

That's the idea behind Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Novice Hunter Program, a mentored hunting curriculum that takes new hunters from the classroom to the fields of eastern Colorado to hunt wild roosters.

"Learning to hunt pheasants can be a long process without a mentor to help you," said CPW small game biologist Ed Gorman. "Many of us had family, friends or relatives who took us under their wing. What we're looking to do is provide the same opportunity to novices who may not have that support system."

The Novice Hunter Program class starts off with Pheasant Hunting 101, a series of lessons in pheasant biology, habitat, hunting strategies, laws and ethics and more. The classroom moves to the field in the afternoon, where students practice safe pheasant hunting tactics and watch trained dogs work live pheasants planted in the grass. The final station is the trap range, where students learn the fundamentals of shotgun shooting before they step to the line and start breaking clay targets under the eye of certified instructors and range safety officers.

"Our Hunter Ed curriculum is great at teaching the basics of how to handle a firearm safely, " said Area Wildlife Manager Mark Leslie, a lead instructor in the novice hunter program. "This program adds a whole new dimension, from pheasant biology to hunting strategies to the importance of working as a team during a successful hunt."

For students, their one-day Novice Hunter class is just the beginning of their program. Later on, they can sign up for additional shooting instruction and go on mentored dove hunts with instructors. During pheasant season, CPW leases special Walk-In Access properties just for students' use to give them a place to practice their new skills in an unpressured setting. Finally, students can go on mentored pheasant hunts with experienced CPW staff and volunteers from Pheasants Forever.

"The Novice Hunter model is built around the idea of mentors helping students gain the confidence and experience they need to become pheasant hunters," said Theo Stein, the Northeast Region Hunting and Angling Outreach Coordinator. "Pheasants Forever volunteers were instrumental in the success of the program's pilot year in 2013. We could not ask for a better partner."

Monday, March 17, 2014

With Iowa pheasant numbers down, state hopes to provide cover

By Bennet Goldstein

This year, winter had a greater effect than causing Iowans to plow their driveways or shiver from the biting frostiness.

For pheasants, higher-than-average snowfall in much of Iowa blocked access to much of their habitat, making conditions precarious.

Unlike songbirds, pheasants don't migrate, said Todd Bogenschutz, upland game bird biologist at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

"They can't get away from these conditions," he said.

The winter cold wasn't so much of a problem as the snow, which gave the birds fewer places to hide and escape predators -- hawks and owls, foxes, dogs, cats, and occasionally, coyotes.

Snow made it necessary for the birds to forage further from their roosting grounds.

"Now they have to go a quarter of a mile to get food," said Bogenschutz. "That just makes them more vulnerable."

Pheasants are highly visible against the snowy white ground compared to the dark landscape after a thaw.

Unfortunately, in northeast Iowa snows as early as November never melted because of cold temperatures, he said.

Less roosting spots also concentrated pheasants together during the night, which increased predation.
It didn't help pheasants that their populations were already vulnerable from a series of harsh winters since 2007, Bogenschutz said.

"It's kind of unprecedented for us to have so many winters consecutively now that the statewide average is 30 or more inches of snow," he said.

Typically, pheasant populations do not increase following winters that exceed 31 inches, Bogenschutz said.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pheasants from Montana released into Franklin County, Pennsylvania (includes video)

Pennsylvania Game Commission biologists and Cumberland Valley Pheasants Forever volunteers fit wild-trapped Montana pheasants with radio collars and crate them in preparation for release into the Franklin Wild Pheasant Recovery Area.

More than 60 ring-necked pheasants from southeastern Montana were released just before sunrise Sunday onto the landscape near Mercersburg in Franklin County.

The birds – 62 total, plus four wild-caught birds from another area of Pennsylvania – are the first to be released into the Franklin Wild Pheasant Recovery Area.

The Montana birds were trapped from the wild on a Crow reservation, crated and air-freighted into Baltimore-Washington International Airport on Friday, trucked to a farm on Friday night and fitted with radio-tracking collars on Saturday night.

Four Pennsylvania roosters were added to adjust the hen-to-rooster ratio for the release after being trapped from the wild in the Central Susquehanna Wild Pheasant Recovery Area in Columbia, Lycoming, Montour and Northumberland counties.

Central Susquehanna is another of the four WPRAs established by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pheasants Forever chapters in an attempt to re-establish wild pheasant populations in Pennsylvania.

Launched in 2007, it's the oldest and most successful to date of the WPRAs.

In addition to Franklin and Central Susquehanna, WPRA's have been established in the Hegins and Gratz valleys in Schuylkill and Dauphin counties, and in Somerset County.

The Franklin site is the last of the WPRAs to receive pheasants. The commission was unable to obtain wild-trapped birds from any of the western states for planned releases in 2012 and 2013.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Missouri Conservation commission expands pheasant season

By Margaret Slayton St. Joseph News-Press |

Change is on the way for Missouri’s upland bird hunters.

The Missouri Conservation Commission approved a regulation proposal this week that expanded the pheasant hunting season statewide and voiced support for a long-term quail research project under way in the southwest portion of the state.

Pheasant hunters can bag the bird in any county of Missouri starting in November 2015, according to MDC Deputy Director Tom Draper.

Under the current regulations that will remain in effect for the 2014 hunting season, hunters are restricted to counties across northern Missouri and to four counties in southeast Missouri. The north hunting zone opens on Nov. 1 and closes Jan. 15 with a daily bag limit of two and a possession limit of four. The southeast region begins on Dec. 1 and ends on Dec. 12 with a daily bag limit of one and a possession limit of one.

Draper said beginning in 2015 the statewide hunting season will match the north zone hunting regulations.