Spring in SW PA

Last weekend while turkey hunting on state game lands in SW PA I heard a number of ringnecks crowing. The area is managed fairly intensively for pheasants. I sure hope that the PGC has released hens in that area.

It brings up the thought "should hens be legal game in the Commonwealth"?

They are not in most areas of SW PA. But I have seen game lands in NW PA that are well managed where hens are legal game.

I am aware that it would be rare that a pen raised hen could pull off a clutch in the wild. But isn't the chance that it could worth protecting hens statewide?

By the way I did shoot a dandy long beard!


Pen raised hens can pull off a clutch in the wild, the original wild pheasants in South and North Dakota and in Montana came from pen raised pheasants, years ago.
Every hen pheasant that is alive and healthy (in the wild) in the spring and summer has the potential to add wild birds to the fall population.


Active member
The areas in PA where hens are open for hunting are in areas that never had wild pheasants (for the most part). The southern portion of PA still has rooster only areas. These areas don't have wild birds (exception of a few pockets) unless they are located in one of the WPRA. The state releases over 200,000 pheasants each year and they have not helped build a wild population. The release of wild birds in the WPRA's have proven that a wild population can be established, even if small. But it needs wild birds. Unfortunately, releasing of pen raised hasn't helped with building a population. The PGC tries to get the most for hunters out of the birds they raise, so they release the hens in areas that are not suited for pheasants long term. The chances of a hen hatching out a brood is very low and it won't happen enough to make an impact on bird numbers. For this reason, I don't see the need to protect hens in the northern part of the state.


Well-known member
I think the PGC should take another look at where it allows hens to be harvested. It used to be pretty much above RT80 both hens and roosters could be taken. Let's not forget that portions of Bradford County were once rated as Class A pheasant range. That was when there was ample habitat, the habitat disappeared and so did the rating. Well for a lot of different reasons the habitat is now much better in some areas, and holdover birds are NOT uncommon.
I never felt comfortable harvesting hens, I do understand the PGC's reasoning behind it however. There are many areas of the State that just don't have the habitat to support a wild population, in such areas shooting hens makes good financial sense, raising 220,000 pheasants is very expensive.
There are WILD pheasants outside of the WPRA's and I hope the PGC doesn't forget about them. I am also NOT in favor of the extended seasons in these areas. Good Thread and topic!

Good going on the Gobbler!
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Active member
I agree with FLDBRED about harvesting hens. It makes sense with the investment the PGC makes with raising birds but it needs to be done in areas that will not support the birds long term. I have mixed feelings about the extended season. I shut things down starting in January but I can see why the PGC would want to give hunters a chance to harvest a late bird due to the cost of raising the birds. Got to get the most out of the money. It also allows people to stock their own birds if they want to and not pay the price of a preserve. But I would have a hard time taking a rooster in late February after it survived hunters and predators that long. Late season is a good time for picture taking when I find birds.

On a side note, I saw a rooster with two hens this morning. They looked nice and healthy.
I feel hens should still be protected in certain areas of the state. I personally would not have an issue with it being statewide. I know several area's in the northern part of the state that would benefit from protecting hens. I think it should stay as it is at the very least.


New member
In the areas that we hunt the state releases mostly hens 90%, sure would like to get a better chance at some roosters, but we understand why it's done. I also agree with FLDBRED about Bradford County, there plenty of holdover birds where there is good habitat and believe there are some wild birds. Overall the Game Commission does a great job.