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Hunting Pheasants till the End of March

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The state of Wisconsin has many different hunting seasons for big game, small game, game birds, and waterfowl. The season that I’m writing about is one of my favorites, the ring neck pheasant season which opens the middle of October and closes the last day of December. Wisconsin does not have a large population of native pheasants anymore mainly because of loss of habitat which includes undisturbed grasslands for nesting, lack of fencerows and green waterways, and changing farm practices. Weather can affect bird populations in the short term with drought and heavy precipitation in late spring and early summer when the chicks are vulnerable.

The decline in the number of farm acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program has plummeted pheasant numbers across the nation’s pheasant belt in the Midwest and central United States. Examples include the state of Minnesota where at the peak of the CRP Program 1.83 million acres were enrolled in the CRP Program where farmers are paid to take sensitive land out of production and restore with vegetation that provides habitat for wildlife. Since the 2007 peak, Minnesota has lost almost 700,000 acres of CRP land which also helps songbirds, all wildlife, and pollinators. Minnesota had the highest pheasant harvest is decades in 2007 with 655,000 pheasants harvested. In 2016, Minnesota’s harvest was 243,000 roosters.

The same holds true in the other “pheasant” states of South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska. South Dakota during its August roadside counts a 45% decline in pheasants from 2016. The same holds true for Wisconsin (I haven’t gotten the numbers yet), Minnesota, and North Dakota. Pheasant hunters bring in many million of dollars from hunters who flock to hunt this majestic bird brought to the U.S. in the 1800’s. Hopefully, the 2018 Farm Bill will have a higher cap for CRP lands which can help the decline.

Though, Wisconsin has scattered areas where there are native pheasants in the southern and central parts of the state. But, they are few and far between and usually on private lands. Wisconsin stocks 75,000 to 80,000 pheasants at its numerous public hunting grounds around the state which is what most Wisconsinites hunt. These public lands are stocked and those that can hunt during the week get a majority of the pen-raised birds from the state’s Pheasant Farm at Poynette. Weekends are crowed early in the season, but as the weather turns colder and snowy the hunting pressure eases. But, hunters have to work hard and walk miles for a few shots at the stocked birds.

Many hunters have dogs that need hunting hours for the exercise and their hunting instinct. I’ve raised Labradors for over 30 years and these hunting dogs and other hunting breeds live for the few months where they can show off their stuff. I’ve had a replacement shoulder and was in the hospital six weeks this fall so my hunting partner Katie, was bouncing off the walls with bound up energy. I have friends who hunt and I go with and have Katie hunt for them.

A good friend of mine Tom Sanderson of Spring Green is a hunter and also has a yellow Labrador, King, who is a good hunter and works well with Katie. Tom asked me if I’d like to go with him to a hunting preserve in Spring Green. I’ve been to a few hunting preserves in my life and many of them I wouldn’t go back to. But, we went to Cedar Valley Preserve outside of Spring Green, Wisconsin. This facility is one of the nicest and best places I have ever heard of or seen. The preserve is tucked away in unglaciated hills and valleys of Iowa County which are planted with corn, sorghum, switch grass, blue stem grass, and all make up some great habitat for any hunter and dog.

The birds are great flyers and there are also chukkars and quail as a bonus. Cedar Valley has great facilities for corporate meetings, banquets, and weddings all in the beautiful Wisconsin countryside. Your birds are cleaned and wrapped for you after your hunt. The best thing about Cedar Valley is that it is only an email or phone call away. There are memberships, but the Preserve is also open to the public. The best thing for the serious hunter is that Cedar Valley is open to the public for hunting till March 31st which gives the hunter three more months of hunting at a place you and your dog will enjoy and want to come back for more pheasant hunting.

 

Cedar Valley Preserve Spring Green, Wisconsin (608)-583-3570 or email at CEDARVALLEYHUNTING@yahoo.com

 

 Gary A. Engberg (608)-795-4208.

    gengberg@chorus.net

     gengberg@garyengbergoutdoors.com

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