Archive for the ‘Pheasants Forever’ Category

Dog of the Day: “Dutch”

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Dutch

Jeff Darula and his trusty hunting partner, “Dutch,” a Deutsch-Drahthaar, found success on a late season upland hunt in central Minnesota. “We were rewarded with a handful of nice points and these beautiful roosters,” Darula said.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Kansas Sets 2014-2015 Upland Season Dates

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

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Kansas has set 2014-2015 upland hunting season dates for pheasants, quail and prairie chickens.

Pheasants:

  • Youth: November 1-2, 2014
  • Regular: November 8, 2014 – January 31, 2015
  • Daily Bag Limit: 4 cocks in regular season, 2 cocks in youth season

Quail:

  • Youth: November 1-2, 2014
  • Regular: November 8, 2014 – January 31, 2015
  • Daily Bag Limit: 8 in regular season, 4 in youth season

Prairie Chickens*

  • Early (East and Northwest zones): Sept. 15 – Oct. 15, 2014
  • Daily Bag Limit: 2 (single species or in combination)
  • Regular (East and Northwest zones): Nov. 15, 2014 – Jan. 31, 2015
  • Daily Bag Limit: 2 (single species or in combination)
  • Southwest Zone: Nov. 15 – Dec. 31, 2014
  • Daily Bag Limit: 1

*Permit required, view prairie chicken map

Field Notes are compiled by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

Five Widespread Myths about Pheasant & Quail Populations

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

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Not only are certain myths about pheasant and quail populations prevalent, belief in them takes the focus away from what really has an impact on sustainable bird numbers – the creation and management of upland habitat. Here’s a closer look at five widely-held beliefs about America’s most popular upland gamebirds.

pheasant-stockingMyth: Stocking pheasants works to restore wild populations.

Busted: During the last half century, there has been a colossal amount of money spent on supplemental stocking programs by state and local governments, sportsman’s groups and private individuals. Countless studies have shown that stocked pheasants, no matter when they are released, have great difficulty maintaining self-sustaining populations. Predators take the main toll, accounting for 90 percent of the deaths; at the same time, predators are conditioned to the idea that pheasants are an easy target.

Pen-raised birds do provide shooting opportunities and are a good way to introduce new hunters to hunting in a controlled situation; they’re also handy for training dogs. But the bottom line is stocking pen-raised pheasants will not effectively increase wild pheasant populations. Only by addressing the root problem that is suppressing populations – the availability and quality of upland habitat – can a long-term positive impact be made on pheasant numbers.

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fox&pheasantMyth: Predators are the main reason there are fewer pheasants and quail.

Busted: Yes, coyotes and fox will eat pheasants and quail, and raccoons and skunks are likely culprits when it comes to raided nests. But predators don’t eat habitat, which is far and away the biggest reason why pheasant populations decline. High annual losses to predators should not be misunderstood to mean that predation is responsible for long-term upland population declines. Landscapes with good habitat often have high numbers of pheasant numbers, as well as high numbers of many potential predators.

The impact of predators is magnified and often pinpointed as the primary problem after habitat conditions deteriorate. Confine pheasants and quail to smaller and smaller parcels of habitat, and a predator’s job gets a whole lot easier. Thankfully, well-designed habitat projects can reduce predation by up to 80 percent. Through the addition and management of habitat, not only does there tend to be a decrease in the impact predators make on existing nests, but more habitat is likely to increase the number of nests and the overall gamebird population. And habitat for pheasants and quail comes at a fraction of the cost of other intensive predator reduction methods that are cost-prohibitive across a large area.

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wild_turkey3Myth: Turkeys eat quail chicks.

Busted: A single Florida study from the 1930s noted an instance of turkeys destroying quail eggs. No biological study since has documented turkeys damaging quail nests or feeding on chicks. Turkey researchers have not found a single quail chick or egg fragment while examining thousands of turkey stomachs. In addition, scientists monitoring quail chicks fitted with radio transmitters and watching quail nests via remote cameras have yet to catch a turkey in the act. Given that literally hundreds of studies of wild turkey food habits and predation on quail have been conducted over the past 80 years, the lack of evidence is remarkable. The conclusion is that turkeys have no direct role in the decline of quail.

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Myth: Hunting is hurting pheasant numbers.

HPIM2293Busted: Extensive research has shown hunting has little-to-no effect on pheasant reproduction and populations. Hens and roosters are easily distinguished in wingshooting situations, and because hens are protected through game regulations, pheasants are actually managed much more conservatively than many other gamebirds. And because roosters are polygamous – that is, they will mate with multiple hens – hunting in effect is only removing a “surplus” of males not absolutely necessary for reproduction the following spring.

Most of a pheasant season’s harvest takes place during the opening weekend, sometimes as much as 50 percent. Additionally, the majority of pheasant hunters are most active during the first two weeks of the season. Considering these factors, liberal, lengthy, roosters-only seasons do not harm populations.

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Cover5Myth: Habitat isn’t the biggest key to healthy pheasant and quail populations.

Busted: Two factors affect upland bird populations above all others: habitat and weather. And while we can’t control the weather, we can influence the amount and quality of upland habitat. Habitat is what supports strong and healthy pheasant and quail populations – one need only look at how pheasant populations rose in the late 1980s, 1990s and 2000s coinciding with increases in Conservation Reserve Program upland acreage, and their subsequent decreases as those acres diminished.  Historically, a lot of money has been spent trying to stock pheasants and to battle predators. Had these dollars been invested in habitat restoration, pheasants, quail and other upland wildlife would’ve benefitted.

Field Notes are compiled by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

Dog of the Day: “Earl”

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Earl

“Earl” is Travis Raske’s eight-month-old Llewellin setter pup, showing off a pair of roosters he pointed and retrieved. “Have to take advantage of every opportunity to get a pup scenting birds,” says Raske, who is a board member with Minnesota’s Watonwan County Pheasants Forever chapter.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Dog of the Day: “Rio”

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Rio

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“Rio” is Brett Miller’s five-month-old golden retriever, a bird dog in training. “Luckily, she loves the taste of pheasants and being in the water. She is looking forward to going to South Dakota this fall to chase some birds with her friend Brandi, an energetic Brittany,” Miller says.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Breed Breakdown: Which Wirehair is Which?

Monday, April 21st, 2014

WirehariedDogGraphic

From left, the wirehaired pointing griffon, Deutsch Drahthaar and German wirehair.

To some people, wirehaired pointing griffons and German wirehaired pointers look similar. Both are outstanding versatile dogs, capable of rigorous upland bird work and waterfowl retrieving. Both have remarkable coats that can handle the cold and both have expressive faces characterized by shaggy mustaches and eyebrows. Puppy buyers sometimes confuse the two, but the truth is they are distinctly different breeds.

The German wirehaired pointer was developed through decades of crossbreeding dogs such as stichelhaars, pudelpointers and German shorthairs. They are strong, athletic, and physically designed to run and swim with exceptional control. They can find and point birds, track wounded game, and retrieve equally well on land or water. Personality-wise, German wirehairs can be intense, but they also are extremely biddable and learn quickly. Rarely are they “soft” dogs, which means novice trainers can make mistakes and the dogs will easily recover and relearn.

The Verein Deutsch Drahthaar is the breed’s parent club in Germany. Dogs bred under the VDD breeding regulations are called “Deutsch Drahthaars” to differentiate them from those bred outside the VDD under other registries such as the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association or the American Kennel Club. Beyond that, the German wirehaired pointer and the Deutsch Drahthaar are essentially the same.

The wirehaired pointing griffon was also initially developed in Germany by a Dutch hunter named Eduard Karel Korthals who combined spaniels, braques, retrievers, shorthairs, pointers and several other breeds to create an all-purpose gun dog. In France and Quebec, the breed is still called the griffon Korthals; in the United States, it is the wirehaired pointing griffon.

The griffon is an adaptable bird dog, designed to work efficiently with the on-foot hunter. They are not known to range as far or as fast as many other popular pointing breeds. Although historically the griffons did not have as intense water drive as the German wirehairs, excellent breeding programs in recent years have improved their water performance significantly. The griffon’s nose and pointing ability are comparable to that of a German wirehair, but their temperament is a bit softer and tends more towards dependency. They are extremely sociable and people-oriented.

Physically, the griffon body shape is less defined than the German wirehair – the chest is not as deep or the waist arch as high. Griffons have bigger heads and more “furniture,” the shaggy long hair on their ears, muzzle and most notably the eyebrows. All griffons have thick full coats which can take up to three years to completely come in. The German wirehairs’ coats vary in length and fluff, but are tighter and lie flatter than a griff’s.

Griffons’ coloring varies from brown and brown/white/gray to tri-color and orange-and-white. Black or curly coats are not standard for the breed. German wirehairs are most commonly brown roan, some with large brown patches and/or white chest patches. Black roan and all brown are acceptable by German wirehair breed standards, but all black coats are not.

As with all breeds, a description of temperament and hunting characteristics can only be a generalization. Individual dogs – like individual hunters – can fit the mold or break it. Generalizations do have merit, however, and it’s safe to say that both of these breeds make wonderful hunting partners in the pursuit of upland game and waterfowl.

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

Dog of the Day: “Shad”

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Shad

Pheasants Forever member Alan Parkinson and his seven-year-old female Lab, “Shad,” worked up these roosters in North Dakota in the fall of 2013. “She was feeling pretty good about herself after putting up a double and retrieving them off a PLOTS property,” Shad said, “It may be worth noting Shad’s owner was also feeling pretty good about keeping up his end of the partnership.”

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Dog of the Day: “Elmer”

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Elmer

Hunters Ace Elmer, call name “Elmer,” is Lee Hemze’s English pointer. “He’s a big runner and a lot of fun,” Hemze says. Elmer pointed this rooster in west central Minnesota during the 2014 hunting season.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Flushing Bars: Simple Devices Save Pheasants in Hayfields

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

FlushingBar

If pheasants are fortunate enough to enter the breeding season in good physical condition, they are not out completely out of harm’s way. As hay lands begin to green up in the spring, they provide a very attractive area for hens seeking a quality nest site. However, these same areas also provide farmers and ranchers with livestock forage. As a result, many hens are incidentally lost due to normal spring haying operations.

But, there is a solution for incidental hen mortality, and the answer is the use of a flushing bar. A flushing bar is a device that typically is mounted on the front of a tractor that precedes the implement being used for haying. A flushing bar creates a disturbance in advance of the implement to allow extra time for the nesting bird to flush to avoid injury or death.

Flushing bars are easy to install, are effective at forcing wildlife out of the path of the mower, and don’t get in the way of production. Research on flushing bars indicates a reduction in mortality of 60 percent in fields of alfalfa or other grass cover that is harvested for livestock forage.

Although the nest is normally destroyed, pheasants are resilient nesters and the majority will re-nest in nearby undisturbed cover. By using a flushing bar, not only will more hens survive the breeding and nesting seasons but many will also go on to successfully hatch a clutch leading to a potential increase in annual bird populations which will possibly lead to subsequent population growth in later years.

Pheasants Forever is piloting the use of flushing bars in South Dakota this year, and landowners are being offered cost-share incentives for the materials to build a custom device. South Dakotans interested in learning more about flushing bars are urged to contact their local Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist, or Mike Blaalid (605) 770-6859 or Mike Stephenson (605) 651-2716.

Find out more about these devices at the Flushing Bar Project.

Field Notes are compiled by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

Wildlife Habitat Grant to Help Michigan Pheasants

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Photo credit: Tom Koerner / USFWS

Photo credit: Tom Koerner / USFWS

Pheasants Forever is the recipient of a 2014 Wildlife Habitat Grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The $44,000 grant will help upland habitat restoration efforts at the Lake Hudson State Recreation Area in Lenawee County.

“These funds will be used to contract tree and brush removal on four overgrown fields on the Lake Hudson State Recreation Area,” says Bill Vander Zouwen, Pheasants Forever’s regional representative in Michigan, “Once the trees and brush are cleared, the fields will be planted to native prairie grasses and forbs. The goal for this recreation area is to provide 600 acres of pheasant nesting cover on public lands in a landscape that contains a good amount of Conservation Reserve Program fields on private lands. A population of pheasants exists in this area, and hunters will have access to all of the project fields.” Pheasants Forever’s Michigan State Council is also contributing $5,000 to this project.

The 2,800-acre Lake Hudson State Recreation Area project is also within the Lake Hudson Landowner Cooperative, which has a goal of providing habitat in one of three focus areas of the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative. Local Pheasants Forever chapters have also taken interest in this property and have provided volunteer brush management efforts as well.

Michigan’s Wildlife Habitat Grant Program, which began in October 2013, is funded with a portion of the revenue generated by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses each year. The WHGP is administered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources through a cooperative effort between the DNR’s Wildlife Division and Grants Management Section. The main objective of the WHGP is to enhance and improve the quality and quantity of game species habitat.

Field Notes are compiled by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.