The ring-neck pheasant was a very fashionable recreation hen at one time however now solely exists via state stocking applications and personal capturing preserves. This non-native recreation hen was launched throughout North America within the 1800s and early 1900s. In 1968, roughly 272,000 hunters harvested 521,000 pheasants however the hen inhabitants began dropping within the 1970s. The decline has continued and is mainly attributable to a scarcity of fine habitat. Nice horned owls, red-tailed hawks, foxes and raccoon are the principle predators of pheasants and account for 94% of the mortality in western New York state. One would suppose that eliminating a few of these predators would assist remedy the issue however it’s actually the lack of good habitat that exposes these birds to them and the truth that it may be very troublesome to manage the predators. The birds of prey (hawks and owls) are protected by State and Federal legal guidelines and when fur costs dropped the mammal predator populations skyrocket.
Bettering the habitat with such applications because the Conservation Reserve Program, that set-aside land for 10 years will assist with out predator management. Additionally teams of sportsmen, comparable to Pheasants Eternally, which are bettering the habitat by their promotion and assist in planting good habitat additionally helps.
Sadly the current day circumstances we stay in won’t ever permit us to return to the kind of farming practices we as soon as had that made the pheasant a outstanding recreation hen in NYS. Land can be being swallowed up by improvement for our growing human inhabitants.
To complement this loss the state DEC releases grownup pheasants on lands open to public searching annually simply earlier than the season opens. This 12 months they are going to launch 30,000 birds throughout the state that had been raised on the DEC’s Reynolds Sport Farm in Ithaca. That is strictly a “put and take” program as few of the birds that survive the searching season make it till spring to mate. Our personal Oak Orchard and Tonawanda Wildlife Administration Areas obtain roughly 1,200 of those birds annually. Different areas that obtain these birds are the John White Sport Farm, the Darien Lake, Joseph Davis, Golden Hill and Wilson-Tuscarora State P arks.
One other effort to offer pheasants is the Day-Outdated Chick Program which offers day-old chicks to cooperating 4-H teams, sportsmen golf equipment, county federations, landowners and the NYS Division of Corrections. These birds are raised till the age of seven weeks outdated after which launched on lands of appropriate habitat. Once I was a child I elevate round 600 birds through the years via this 4-H program and most of my birds had been leg banded. My dad and I the place avid pheasant hunters however we by no means obtained any of these birds in the course of the searching season. In all probability for a similar causes as talked about within the open paragraph of this column.
The pheasant season opens this weekend (October 17th and runs till December 31st) with a each day bag restrict of two birds. On the Tonawanda and Oak Orchard WMA’s no searching is allowed for them on Tuesdays or Fridays when they’re launched.
It’s a disgrace that such a beautiful and delightful recreation hen has disappeared from our fields. I grew up searching them with my Dad once they survived and reproduce on their very own. They had been a really sporting hen to hunt usually requiring a very good hen canine. Their flush was at all times startling and wild and so they actually up set off your nerves once they did (usually the rationale they had been missed !). The meat was merely scrumptious and so they had been a simple hen to scrub. Once I got here dwelling from Nam in 1970 there have been not any birds left within the areas the place we usually discovered them plentiful and it is without doubt one of the causes I turned to waterfowl searching.
Different searching seasons additionally open up on Oct. 17 which incorporates waterfowl and turkey. After all deer searching with a bow is already open so there are many hunters on the market now. For these of you who don’t hunt hold this in thoughts once you wish to take hikes or search for wildlife within the Nice Outside. Be protected, keep alert to what’s going on round you and put on some florescence crimson or orange clothes.
Doug Domedion, outdoorsman and nature photographer, resides in Medina. Contact him at (585) 798-4022 or email@example.com .