Jerry Davis: Pheasant operation unruffled by summer rains
Kelly Maguire, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources manager at the Poynette Game Farm, said she considers the pheasant operation fortunate in dodging summer storms.
“As far as flooding and storms, we have not had significant damage at the farm,” she said. “The only negatives were that the flight netting in pens continue to get older and did receive a few more rips and a few birds escaped.”
Workers were able to capture most of the birds that got out, get them back in the pens and repair the netting.
“Predators haven’t been a major problem, either, with an occasional raccoon or other animals hanging around but nothing huge or abnormal,” she said.
Looking ahead to actual stocking of 75,000 adult birds beginning prior to the Oct. 20 opener, Maguire said she does not know of any issues — of getting the birds released on about 90 public properties — surrounding the high water, wet ground and road or trail washouts.
“I’ve not been alerted as of yet of issues wildlife biologists might have getting the birds to release locations,” she said. “Most of the areas are upland habitat, but we’ll be meeting with area biologist to make sure the areas can all be safely stocked and hunted.”
The department plans to continue the Holiday Hunt, which was started December 2017. Additional birds are released prior to the Christmas holidays when more people have time to hunt pheasants and some college students are home for a semester break.
Last year, a total of 1,700 birds were released on a small number of public locations for this effort. The hunt is simply releasing extra birds and does not require any extra fees, permits or licenses.
“The areas stocked will be increased slightly and about 2.200 birds will be stocked,” Maguire said. “The locations will be known to the public well before Christmas. Several additional sites will receive birds this year, too.”
As last year, about 75,000 adult pheasants will be released during the 79-day season, which closes Jan. 6. In addition, 34,000 day-old chicks were given to conservation clubs this spring to raise and release on public land or land open to hunting.
“DNR biologists will begin releasing some birds about a week before the season opens,” Maguire said. “The season begins later and runs longer after deer season, so there will be more birds released after the gun season than during some past years.”
No birds will be released during the gun deer season, which is Nov. 17-25.
The new hatchery equipment is working well. This was the first full year of using the equipment and we’re still learning, Maguire said.
“I expect pheasant hunters will have an enjoyable and successful season,” Maguire said.