1,2,3+ year old pheasants

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1pheas4

Super Moderator
A5, I want to keep the "live pheasant photo" thread as clean as possible with live pheasant photos so we can discuss your questions further within this thread.:)

Not calling BS here; I simply don't know what the truth is. I assume you're talking about pen-raised (basically pet) birds
I wasn't. I was talking about 3+ year old wild birds.

otherwise you wouldn't know their ages.
On dead birds, necks get girth, chests get very heavy compared to younger birds, primary wing feathers are much larger and longer than that on younger birds, some flank feathers will be more distinct and larger, often larger fans, and spurs between a 1,2 year bird vs. 3+ are fairly obvious. Hooked spurs are a dead giveaway of a old bird, though not all will develop a hook. Some will remain straight, long, and very pointy. Basically the entire appearance looks "mature" if that makes sense.

In live birds, the beat of their wing differs, their flight and walk appear "heavy", their run is a bit slower and very "waddled".

Most wild birds don't make it 1 year, much less 3 or 4.
That's correct, "most" do not. But, some do. Rarely will a wild bird live 3+ years. But some do. One of these days I'll get my pheasant videos back on line. One of my videos shows the difference between a live wild 2 year old bird and a 3+ year old wild pheasant. The maturer bird looks and moves like a mature 3+ year old bird. Both wild birds I observed over the course of those years in the wild.

I suspect the only way a rooster in the "wild" could make it 3 years is if his environment wasn't really all that wild
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Habitat, weather, food, and a smart bird can be a recipe for an old bird--in the wild;)

But I've never heard that pheasants NEED to peck in order to keep their beaks from over-growing.
Think about all the grit and ground that a pheasant pecks at every day plus the hard, dried out grain and everything else they peck at day-in and day-out. If a pheasants beak didn't continually grow it would be a nub by the end of the summer. Nothing would be left.

A side note; I had a parrot as a kid. We kept a piece of volcanic rock on a rope within his cage. He champed at it a bit here and there. That kept his beak trimmed. If not for that rock, his beak would have kept growing.


Can anyone substantiate this?
I hope I did A5. Maybe if you have any further questions regarding wild pheasants you can feel free to ask me? By no means do I know as much as some the other members floating around here but I'm glad to answer basic pheasant questions for you.:)

If you'd like, take notice of the way this rooster runs. He's a wild rooster living (of all places) in Detroit. Yes they have wild pheasants living down there. For example purposes only, take a look at this birds movements. Can you see the heavy waddle in his run? This is a characteristic of a old bird. Girthy, mature, heavy chested, heavy waddle as he runs--even a bit slow compared to a younger bird's run.

https://youtu.be/Iy7NyqHC2FM?t=8s
 
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Recon

New member
Thanks 1pheas4 for this info, I don't know much about the life cycle of pheasants I guess if I truly want to be a better hinter I should learn as much as possible about all aspects of this very interesting creature Thanks again I really appreciate the knowledge that is so freely shared on here!!

Rich
 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
1p4, first, thanks for moving this to a separate topic. Second, thanks for taking the time to splain some stuff. All pretty reasonable, although I'll stand by my statement that a "wild" bird living 3-4 years probably isn't living under very difficult conditions (while still wild). I have to remind myself that the conditions I'm used to in South Dakota don't define that term. Anyway, very interesting way of thinking about the beak growth question. Totally makes sense. Now you've got me wondering, though, how many birds in SD make it 3-4 years. I suppose a few might if they live someplace that never gets hunted, has great cover, and where predators are controlled. In 35 years of hunting & probably in the ballpark of 1,000 roosters, I've only shot maybe 3 birds that I thought MAY have been in their 3rd season (so at most 2.5 years old). I thought this primarily because the spurs had begun to curl a little. All others I'm quite sure have been young-of-the-year or 2nd-year birds. Being in South Dakota & hunting almost exclusively public land, the birds I'm used to just don't have great longevity.
 

1pheas4

Super Moderator
Given that you've killed 1,000 wild pheasants, I'd have to say you've had a few in the mix that were older than 2.;)

I've taken two such birds in SD (one on public land), three here in McHenry County IL.

If I get some time next week I'd like to lay a 1,2,3+ aged birds side by side so you can see the difference between them.

Memories:); You've watched those late season roosters flush at the opposite end of the field before you step foot in it. Maybe one or two of them with tails wagging back and forth as they flush. Nice full, heavy looking bodies. They don't look like the other birds around them. They stand out from the others. Those are old birds.:thumbsup: If hunting pressure gets to be too much they'll stay away until things calm down. They know where to go, when to go, where to find suitable habitat within an area for every condition. Spring time rolls around, they're the dominate roosters. They'll stake out the best habitat, collect the strongest, healthiest hens to mate with. Come fall, the results are always a good time.:cheers:
 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
Any correlation between a white tip on the spur and age?
Yes & no, I think. In general terms, older birds will have blacker spurs. But then once they reach a certain age/length, I see them all black as well as white-tipped, or all pretty light. I've seen some that were real light colored but very long - obviously (I think anyway) not young of the year birds. I've also seen large-ish birds with black, not-all-that-long, but very sharp spurs. I also consider those 2nd year birds.
 
I usually kill 2-3 2 year old roosters a year about half inch spurs & pointed/sharp & a couple 3/4 inch or danb near 3/4 inch spurred roosters a season I call them 3 year old +. All I hunt is public lands I have no knowledge of private land & how long they live & spur lengths... Them white tips on spur's break off 1st so no real age identifation there...

Latest season u cn see the size & difference in looks of roosters on some of them massive cluster flushes...

Age & Spur color have no real after this age they turn white or red etc. Its genetic... Shot whited spured nub young birds the bird i shot with 4 spurs was white spurred & of public land...

I've only seen maybe 180-200 dead birds after I got my dog all public... I'm into color variations & phases as much very beautiful birds to look at all around...
 
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Given that you've killed 1,000 wild pheasants, I'd have to say you've had a few in the mix that were older than 2.;)

I've taken two such birds in SD (one on public land), three here in McHenry County IL.

If I get some time next week I'd like to lay a 1,2,3+ aged birds side by side so you can see the difference between them.

Memories:); You've watched those late season roosters flush at the opposite end of the field before you step foot in it. Maybe one or two of them with tails wagging back and forth as they flush. Nice full, heavy looking bodies. They don't look like the other birds around them. They stand out from the others. Those are old birds.:thumbsup: If hunting pressure gets to be too much they'll stay away until things calm down. They know where to go, when to go, where to find suitable habitat within an area for every condition. Spring time rolls around, they're the dominate roosters. They'll stake out the best habitat, collect the strongest, healthiest hens to mate with. Come fall, the results are always a good time.:cheers:

I have a pic of a few birds harvested last WK of MN & SD season I think are 3... I have a bunch of 2 year olds & a couple younger I'll line em up age wise & shoot ya a pic to share if u wanted 1pheas4 don't know how to posts pics don't care to learn but I'd be happy to share & admit I'm wrong on age class...

But if a pheasant spur has length enuff to cause damage to your hand & or fight off a wild turkey he gotta be older the 2...
 
Like these?

These spurs were rather long on an older bird. Completely white. I think its more genetic on the spur color. Some are real dark, others are grayish. I've killed ones with smaller white ones too, but these were good ones.
 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
These spurs were rather long on an older bird. Completely white. I think its more genetic on the spur color. Some are real dark, others are grayish. I've killed ones with smaller white ones too, but these were good ones.
Yep, those are good ones. Now to me, if that bird had come from SD, it would've been a 2nd year bird - at most 1.5 years old.
 
My first ten years of pheasant hunting in eastern Iowa (ages 8-18) were spent almost exclusively hunting private ground that nobody else had access to, the last ten years have been spent primarily on public land. When hunting private land about half of the birds we shot weren't in their 1st season and it seemed like at least a couple birds per year that were in their 3rd season, really long tail feathers and spurs. Since switching to public land I don't think I've shot one bird of that age, probably 85% are first year birds. And of course the numbers of birds shot per year has gone way down... Farming practices have changed so much in my life, hard to fathom what hunting was like when my dad was young.
 

BleuBijou

New member
Here is a couple I shot in 2012 in Kansas. With the drought 98% were older birds and had these 2 mounted.
 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
Here is a couple I shot in 2012 in Kansas. With the drought 98% were older birds and had these 2 mounted.
Long ones. Had I shot them, I'd think MAYBE 3rd year birds, but probably not around these parts. Do you happen to recall if the spurs were that dark when you shot them? Have they been painted? Just curious.
 

1pheas4

Super Moderator
They are painted;) Those are 3rd year birds. The spurs are too long plus they have elongated, very fine points. 2nd year birds don't have spurs like that.

I have 3-3+ year old birds here now. A fourth that I'm on the fence on so I'll call him a 2nd year bird but I'm guessing he's in his third season.

Their spurs vary in color. One is all dark from the base to the tip, one is starting to hook to the side, two are straight. One has a light base, dark center, light tip, another has dark base, dark center, light tip.
 
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Long ones. Had I shot them, I'd think MAYBE 3rd year birds, but probably not around these parts. Do you happen to recall if the spurs were that dark when you shot them? Have they been painted? Just curious.
I agree with blue bijou 2012/2013 seasons during drought I bagged three 3 year old + birds like the spurs in his pic on public land in SD along I-29 corridor I killed 2... I've never hunted Sioux falls SD area but I'm sure there are 3 year old birds left around your hunt areas...

Youngest dumbest birds die 1st... Once u get late season wear there is noticeably less roosters Alive is when most old roosters get bagged with long spurs last few roosters I seen in MN late Dec public land were huge like 1pheas4 described long wigleing tails huge size & had hard time even flushing plus way way smart not all them get killed by hunters yearly...
 

Preston1

Member
Some roosters and some hens live longer than average. The longer they manage to escape predators and stay alive the wiser they become. The old biologists would call those critters "woodwise".

This is the problem we have, and this is not criticism of anybody or anything, its just an observation. Some people believe everything they read is the absolute truth.

In the link below the writers from this organization should explain to the reader that in information given is only statistical averages and may not play out exactly that way all the time in every area.

https://www.pheasantsforever.org/Habitat/Pheasant-Facts.aspx

In the section on Facts, I have heard of people who use that information to shoot perfectly healthy wild hens and roosters in the spring time (during turkey season) because they were outside of the so called pheasant range, with no corn in the area. Or they feel, if I don't get that pheasant the predators will. Believing the pheasant only have a shot life span (less than 1 year) based on the information they have read.

I also disagree with 90% of what the above organization says about stocking pen raised pheasant. Wilder strains of full grown, well feathered, pen raised pheasant can, once released in good nesting cover habitat, fortify and build up the present wild population. And also help expand the wild pheasant range.

Around 16 states currently release healthy full grown pen raised pheasants into the wild.
All wild pheasants in this country came from pen raised birds.
 

1pheas4

Super Moderator
I've seen many pen raised pheasants that have zero chance of surviving in the wild, others that seem to have what it takes to survive in the wild as long as they have the habitat, food, water they need.

Plus, I think the quality of pen raised birds are heading in the right direction. A number of breeders seem to be breeding a hardy, wilder, lighter, smarter bird. Don't get me wrong, by seasons end they still tend to get used to humans and everything else dangerous to their health, but we are seeing a better quality bird. With some of these birds it's becoming difficult to tell the difference between the wild birds and the pen raised birds as they flush.:eek:

McFarlane, Kellenberger, Sullivan, and Windy Ridge all have a great bird. Especially early fall when they still have their natural "wild" traits to them.
 
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btomlin

New member
How many years for this bird we got yesterday. I've shot turkeys with less....probably gonna need to tenderize.



 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
Definitely a stew or crock pot bird!! I'd think those are likely in their 3rd season. Shot in Iowa? Public or private land?
 
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