WILD Pheasant Harvest Numbers

FLDBRED

Well-known member
There are those that believe the wild pheasant in Pa. is extinct, this is just not the case. While the numbers are just a fraction of what they once were there are still wild populations out there.
This is from The National Wild Pheasant Recovery Plan.
PENNSYLVANIA
From 1970 to 1980, we estimated that the annual pheasant harvest was 80-85% wild pheasants statewide and 95% in primary pheasant range. The wild cock harvest exceeded 500,000 annually. The objective of the PA Pheasant Management Plan 2008-2017 is to increase the reported harvest of 43,000 wild pheasants in 2010 to a total harvest of 100,000 annually. This is to be achieved by increasing wild pheasant populations thru habitat improvement, trap and transfer of wild pheasants and elimination of releasing pen-reared pheasants in Wild Pheasant Areas. The true current estimated harvest of wild cock pheasants in 2010 was 18,000 cock birds out of a total reported harvest of 90,000 cock birds. This estimate is based on the estimat- ed number of pen reared birds released by the PGC and private sector in 2010; 180,000 cock birds and 75,000 hens. Based on research conducted in 1998, we estimated the harvest rates of pen-reared pheasants, we es- timated at 40%. for 2010, this results in a harvest of 72,000 pen-reared cocks from our estimated total har- vest 90,000 cock pheasants from the Game Take Survey. Thus, we estimated that 20% of the harvest was wild pheasants in 2010, compared to 85% from 1970 to 1980 and 45% from 1990 to 1999. The 10 year av- erage cock harvest from 1990 to 1999 was estimated at 88,000 wild birds, out of the total pheasant harvest of 192,000. At an estimated harvest of 45% wild birds and 55% pen reared birds, the model predicts a harvest of 86,524 wild cock pheasants. This is very close to the 88,000 reported harvest. When we apply this same model to 2010 data it estimates a harvest of 76,810 wild cock pheasants under existing habitat conditions in PA, which we believe is an over-estimate of the current wild pheasant harvest, but will be used for the pur- pose of this habitat model.

There is More Habitat now thanks to CREP than in 2010 when they estimated 18,000 cock birds harvested.
 
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OpticMinnow

New member
FLDBRED -

I am not sure that I understand this report/stats. Does this mean that there are pockets of wild pheasants on private property and/or SGLs outside of the WPRAs? I recently spent a little time with the PF PA regional field rep and I told him about two occasions of seeing pheasants in early fall of this year in Lancaster county. Both sightings well prior to any PGC stockings. In one case it was a semi-rural area and corn was being harvested and we witnessed two roosters escaping at the far end of the cornfield. We saw them from the road. On another occasion we saw a rooster walking a narrow treeline next to a cornfield (in a cut grass area). This sighting was in a fairly populated area.

I asked the PF Regional rep if these could be wild and he said no way (had to be stocked birds by a landowner or birds that had escaped from other non-wild situations). The two sightings were not near each other. Probably 15 to 20 miles apart.

Are there any existing road surveys going on? Sightings? I am a very hopeful pheasant hunter and practically obsessed with wild birds and i look everywhere i travel throughout the state and aside from 3 roosters that I saw in 2008 (also in Lancaster county), I have not seen any other pheasants while driving or walking (other than stocked bird locations in PA). I do a fair amount of road travel with my job. I watch with hopeful eyes everywhere I travel.

I am a chapter-less PF member (not one close by) and this site is my only resource to learn about wild pheasant sightings ---- even if just one bird is seen here or there, there is hope! I travel to SD to hunt non-stocked birds on occasion and I am so hopeful that we will have wild birds in PA again (whether in hunt-able sized populations or not).
 

FLDBRED

Well-known member
Well look at this way, there were 35,000 to 40,000 pheasant permits sold this year. If you were to ask them if they are still going hunting after the last stocking 99% of them would say no, why because they would tell you there are no more birds out there....REALLY! They released 170,000 birds and there all gone???? But's that's the mentality of the average Pa. hunter, we find released birds rite through spring.
Yes there ARE wild birds in Pa. outside of the WPRA's, we hunt for them every year, sometimes we get a couple sometimes we don't, but they are out there! The numbers in that report may be off, but it shows that there are birds out there.
Back a few years ago when the PGC still did Game Forecast one report gave the location of wild birds, he got more flak than Gary Alt, needless to say they never did that again.
 
The actually numbers in the report aren't all that important. What's important is that wild birds were reported. Pennsylvania has wild birds and not just in the WPRA's. Stop hoping and start hunting and just enjoy lol. :cheers: Just food for thought..some where around 700,000 pen raised birds are released in South Dakota a year..not saying not to go but even in the pheasant capital birds are released.
 

OpticMinnow

New member
Thanks for the feedback. I get it on the stocked birds (the program is tremendous) ... trust me, I am not simply "hoping" as suggested, I am hunting. And, yes, my britt and I find birds on SGLs on the last day of season and long after. And, yes, we shoot birds that I believe are holdovers on rare occasion. For me, while I shoot my share of pheasants and travel the entire state and to other states doing so, it is more about my dog, the outdoors and a fascination with pheasants ... The hunting just allows me to enjoy them all at once.

My interest in the original post is more about trying to understand some of the science with the wild birds (i.e. birds that reproduce in the wild) not just killing birds (stocked or wild). I am rather new to PA and have been bird hunting for 40 years. Understanding, learning and conservation is my real interest (hunting is a byproduct). The original post got me excited about our potential wild pheasants (reproducing birds) and how we might grow that through conservation and I wanted to understand more (since I am newer to the state).

I get the honor to hunt in SD on property that belongs to a lifetime PF member who cultivates his land to attract pheasants and these practices gives them a place to brood and grow. It is pretty amazing, as this gentleman doesn't even pheasant hunt. There are people (like me) who have the desire and means do the same right here in PA. I am not talking about trapping birds and relocating them. I am talking about creating more habitat in the pockets where wild birds potentially exist already. Not just to have their own birds to hunt, but for the conservation of the species. The problem is that there is little to no information on the subject.

Now, back to "hope" - hope brings change and change (through understanding, learning and conservation) can perhaps (with effort) bring this beloved bird back to PA.

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone.
 
Habitat is key. Pennsylvania's pheasants declined after the hey day due to the loss of habitat and a few poorly timed winters. Combine that with outbreak of avian flu which started in the heart of pheasant country right here in Pennsylvania and pheasants were all but wiped out. That's why Pennsylvania's case was different than most other states..really good habitat was birdless because of the combination of factors. Thats why the trap and transfer took place. The trap and transfer proved that we can have wild birds here..they just held a youth hunt in one this year. The Game Commission is putting more and more habitat on the ground and it's working..habitat is key. Now Pennsylvania is on a leveling playing field..no different than the other pheasant states in being you need the habitat. We will never be South Dakota or what we were in the hey day again because of the land lost to development but we can hold our own.

If you have some ground..get the habitat in and if birds are in the area they will find it and reproduce. If not you may have to look into getting some birds to trap and transfer.

Most of us having been hoping for years about having a meaningful population of wild birds and to finally have that in some parts of the state whether it be a WPRA or not is pretty awesome. While we are still learning what's best for the birds everyone is more focused on growing what was successful with in WPRA's statewide. We all are beyond the point of whether it can be done or not and are more excited about the future and discovering new areas that hold birds and getting cover on the ground. That's more what I meant about stop hoping because now's the time to enjoy and get to work at the same time..it was a feel good statement!

Merry Christmas!
 

FLDBRED

Well-known member
The wild ringneck was never declared extinct in Pennsylvania, drastically reduced but isolated pockets existed and still do. Habitat played a major role in the decline but there was something a lot more sinister taking place. In April of 1983 in Lancaster County a strain of avian flu was detected.By October the virus had changed into something highly pathogenic and lethal. Scores of chickens, turkeys and guinea fowl in South East and South Central Pa. died with mortality rates as high as 90 %. Over the next two years 17 MILLION BIRDS ON 400 FARMS in Pa. and NJ died....need I say more!
In some "isolated" areas the Ringneck survived. There ARE wild birds still reproducing in the State outside of the WPRA's. We look for wetland areas that are located within farming communities, some of the areas that have wild populations are NOT in the traditional Class A pheasant range. One area that we hunt is over 5 hrs. from us and there is no guarantee that will harvest a bird. There are also some birds in areas that are not open to the public.
Look back at some of the old Posts, unfortunately some of the photos of wild pheasant cover have been removed but the discussions are still there.
Feel free to contribute and ask questions1
Merry Christmas!
 
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OpticMinnow

New member
FLDBRED -

Thanks! You just answered my burning question when you reference that the wild ringneck was never declared extinct in PA. This is what I could not determine in all of my research.

I was super excited when we saw those roosters in Lancaster county this late summer (early fall). Then, after talking to the PF regional rep, i lost that excitement as he felt that it just wasn't probable. Admittedly Lancaster Co doesn't have the ancillary habitat I see in other places in PA as it continues to urbanize on top of some of the more modern farming practices. This said; I am fascinated by the Middle Creek Preserve area and have often thought that it is a WPRA waiting to happen. Just needs some birds and perhaps some incremental habitat enhancements. Trapped birds from another WPRA???

Honestly, having had the opportunity to travel to many states is what keeps me excited about PA pheasant reproduction. This is one man's opinion, but we still have some places with a tremendous amount of habitat. Not necessarily the traditional class A pheasant range that everyone thinks of (as FLDBRED references), but still some amazing habitat.

I really appreciate the education, as details on the past, present and future of reproducing pheasants in PA is not that easy to find. Note: I have studied the 2008 to 2017 plan, but 2018 starts next week --- so what is next???

I think we live in an amazing state for pheasant hunting and I (for one) am prepared to roll up my sleeves and make it better (if there is in fact a way to make a difference). This is ultimately what I am trying to understand - can a difference be made or is it too late. What are the next steps in PA?

Take care all!
 

Mason Brubaker

New member
FLDBRED -

Thanks! You just answered my burning question when you reference that the wild ringneck was never declared extinct in PA. This is what I could not determine in all of my research.

I was super excited when we saw those roosters in Lancaster county this late summer (early fall). Then, after talking to the PF regional rep, i lost that excitement as he felt that it just wasn't probable. Admittedly Lancaster Co doesn't have the ancillary habitat I see in other places in PA as it continues to urbanize on top of some of the more modern farming practices. This said; I am fascinated by the Middle Creek Preserve area and have often thought that it is a WPRA waiting to happen. Just needs some birds and perhaps some incremental habitat enhancements. Trapped birds from another WPRA???

Honestly, having had the opportunity to travel to many states is what keeps me excited about PA pheasant reproduction. This is one man's opinion, but we still have some places with a tremendous amount of habitat. Not necessarily the traditional class A pheasant range that everyone thinks of (as FLDBRED references), but still some amazing habitat.

I really appreciate the education, as details on the past, present and future of reproducing pheasants in PA is not that easy to find. Note: I have studied the 2008 to 2017 plan, but 2018 starts next week --- so what is next???

I think we live in an amazing state for pheasant hunting and I (for one) am prepared to roll up my sleeves and make it better (if there is in fact a way to make a difference). This is ultimately what I am trying to understand - can a difference be made or is it too late. What are the next steps in PA?

Take care all!
I too am rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty. We have a farm in centre county at Woodward and we have a pocket of wild birds. Granted they weren’t there before we owned the property but thru an improvised soft release program and an absolute boat load of habitat improvement, I saw a hen with 4 chicks last week. We have 235 acres and about 70 of it are in CREP. We were enrolled in cool season and introduced until our contract went up last year. We re-enrolled in warm season and just finished planting 25+- acres of switchgrass and 3 acres of pollonator mix on the place. We’ve still got about 20 or so to go before we have all of the cool season converted to switch and other mixtures. Even with a winter like we had last year and virtually no winter cover we had 2 roosters and 6 hens make it thru till May. Now that we’re adding the switch I think we are going to be set. I have 2 other properties lined up for improvement that would add around 20 ish acres. They are direct neighbors. 1 farm is not far from us (about a mile and a half) that is already in warm season grasses (about 25 acres) and another about 3 miles. The last property I am doing hinge cuts to all the hedgerows around the fields. This is a weird spot in the valley as it has the old 5 acre field surrounded by fence lines look to it. The farm that is 3/4 of a mile the way the crow flies (or pheasant walks) is enrolled in CREP as well. That’s pushing 100 acres but we will call it 90. Directly adjacent to that property is Woodward camp, I have spoken with the owner and believe I have gotten permission to plant around 35 acres of grass! That’s a big move! What I’m saying is if you build it and put a little faith in the birds, you can make it happen. A main goal I have is to get enough birds on our property alone to trap and transfer to the other farms out the valley. I have a whole power point made up about the effort if any of y’all wanna see it just say so and I’ll attach it to another post! Take care
 
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FLDBRED

Well-known member
WOW! What a great and refreshing Post ! Yes indeed there are wild pheasants in Pa.. sometimes we get tired of trying to convince others of that fact . There are a few areas in South West Pa. that it has become a community effort .They are VERY tight lipped about it and want to keep it that way . Thanks for posting! Yes would love to see it!
 
I too am rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty. We have a farm in centre county at Woodward and we have a pocket of wild birds. Granted they weren’t there before we owned the property but thru an improvised soft release program and an absolute boat load of habitat improvement, I saw a hen with 7 chicks last week. We have 235 acres and about 70 of it are in CREP. We were enrolled in cool season and introduced until our contract went up last year. We re-enrolled in warm season and just finished planting 25+- acres of switchgrass and 3 acres of pollonator mix on the place. We’ve still got about 20 or so to go before we have all of the cool season converted to switch and other mixtures. Even with a winter like we had last year and virtually no winter cover we had 2 roosters and 6 hens make it thru till May. Now that we’re adding the switch I think we are going to be set. I have 2 other properties lined up for improvement that would add around 20 ish acres. They are direct neighbors. 1 farm is not far from us (about a mile and a half) that is already in warm season grasses (about 25 acres) and another about 3 miles. The last property I am doing hinge cuts to all the hedgerows around the fields. This is a weird spot in the valley as it has the old 5 acre field surrounded by fence lines look to it. The farm that is 3/4 of a mile the way the crow flies (or pheasant walks) is enrolled in CREP as well. That’s pushing 100 acres but we will call it 90. Directly adjacent to that property is Woodward camp, I have spoken with the owner and believe I have gotten permission to plant around 35 acres of grass! That’s a big move! What I’m saying is if you build it and put a little faith in the birds, you can make it happen. A main goal I have is to get enough birds on our property alone to trap and transfer to the other farms out the valley. I have a whole power point made up about the effort if any of y’all wanna see it just say so and I’ll attach it to another post! Take care

That's awesome. Absolutely love the valley!
 

Mason Brubaker

New member
372A9532-B99C-4B8E-9E5A-BDDB6CB566CB.png

Here’s a map of our property and what we’ve planted so far. Yellow is switch and light blue is a pollonator plot. Switch adds up to about 23 acres, and pollonator is just under 2 acres. The field just south of the pollonator plot is lowland fallow so switch should do pretty well in there. That’s a project for this winter.
 

FLDBRED

Well-known member
Very, very impressive ! Are you getting any help from the PGC or the Regional Pheasant Forever biologist? Thanks for sharing and keep us posted!
 

Mason Brubaker

New member
Just was up to the farm today and saw another hen with 10 chicks this time! That’s 14 chicks from 2 hens. We had 6 total hens that we knew of in early May so I’m sure there’s another brood or two around somewhere. We just entered a 5 year contract to plant pollonator plots in the strips between our food plot fields. (3.5 more acres of pollonator) we food plot around 15 acres of sorghum and corn. The strips are 16 and 32 feet wide, and about 200 yards long a piece. We will make around $2500 per year just off those couple acres. Great stuff up here in Woodward!

Best,
Mason
 

Mason Brubaker

New member
C368E52C-C8B7-46C0-9F95-A539DFF84139.jpeg
That’s half of what I ended up seeing in the grass. Just sprayed quinclorac on our switch fields to knock back the thistles and the foxtail. Hopefully that gives our switch a chance to jump.
 
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