The season of the soaring rooster — ring-necked pheasant rooster, that is — is nigh upon us, and special programs are afoot in Ohio and Michigan aimed at bolstering the status of the species.
Lower Michigan's pheasant season opens Oct. 20, and Ohio's first pheasant season, a weekend youth season, follows closely on Oct. 23-24.
With corn and soybean harvest well ahead of normal schedule, it will pay for upland hunters to do their preseason scouting and seek permission on private lands as well, especially where federal Conservation Reserve Program or CRP plots are maintained adjacent to the croplands.
In Ohio, more than 15,000 ring-necked pheasants will be released on 28 public hunting areas across the state as part of a seasonal effort by the Ohio Division of Wildlife to enhance hunting opportunities.
Bird releases are set after shooting hours on Oct. 22 and 29 in anticipation of the weekend's small-game seasons for youth hunters. Releases will also take place on the evenings of Nov. 4 and 12, ahead of the opening of the statewide season and following weekend. The final release of the fall is scheduled for the evening of Nov. 24, to increase pheasant hunting opportunities during the Thanksgiving weekend.
Although not listed in the 2010-2011 hunting regulations, pheasants will be released Oct. 22 and 29 for the youth-hunt weekends on Ringneck Ridge [Sandusky County] and Tiffin River [Fulton County] wildlife areas. Hunters interested in hunting the Ringneck Ridge Area in Sandusky County must obtain free permits from the Sandusky County Park District. For more information regarding the issuance of these free hunting permits, contact the Sandusky County Park Office at 419-334-4495 or the park district ranger office at 419-637-2900.
Overall in northwest Ohio about 3,000 birds are being stocked in allotments at the following wildlife areas: Killdeer Plains, Wyandot County; Wyandot, Wyandot County; Resthaven, Erie County; Willard, Huron County; Maumee State Forest, Lucas County; Oxbow, Defiance County, Turkeyfoot, Henry County, and the aforementioned Tiffin River and Ringneck Ridges sites.
A statewide list of releases can be viewed online at wildohio.com.
For wild birds, seek out the aforementioned CRP lands and check out Lake La Su An State Wildlife Area in Williams County, Fish Creek State Wildlife Area, also in Williams County, and the wilder parts of Killdeer Plains, which will have a mix of wild and pen birds.
Pheasant hunting statewide opens Nov. 5 and remains open through Jan. 9 with a daily bag limit of two rooster [male] birds. Statewide hunting hours are sunrise to sunset.
In neighboring Michigan, pheasant season opens across the lower peninsula Oct. 20.
Each year the state wildlife biologists monitor pheasant populations through the mail carrier brood survey, and results this year were comparable to 2009.
Pheasant season runs through Nov. 14. It reopens in select areas of southern Michigan Dec. 1 and runs through Jan. 1. Check the 2010 Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest for details. The daily bag limit for pheasants is two roosters with a possession limit of four.
In related news, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment is beginning a Pheasant Recovery Initiative.
It has been working with a group of partners including Pheasants Forever, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Michigan Department of Agriculture, and other conservation organizations to facilitate a revitalization of Michigan pheasants. The initiative has the potential, the MDNRE said, to change small game hunting opportunities, increase wildlife populations, improve hunter satisfaction, and help Michigan’s economy.
Three priority Pheasant Recovery Areas have been identified for this initiative: 1) Huron, Sanilac, and Tuscola counties; 2) Hillsdale, Lenawee, and Monroe counties; and 3) Gratiot, Saginaw, and Clinton counties. To participate in this cooperative initiative, a group of property owners must agree to work together to improve pheasant and small game habitat on their collective acreages.
“We believe that habitat restoration must be done in large landscape blocks to achieve meaningful recovery,” Russ Mason, state wildlife chief, said. “We are focusing on working with coalitions of private landowners to restore pheasant habitat on 15-30 percent of the landscape within Pheasant Recovery Areas.”
For participating coalitions, MDNRE staff will provide advice and assistance on habitat prescriptions; project partners will aid in securing seed for grass plantings; and federal resources may be leveraged to provide financial incentives for participating landowners. Also, for land that meets habitat restoration objectives, the DNRE may provide seed and/or materials for plantings, the use of equipment, and in some cases, the release of wild pheasants to initiate population response.
This winter, DNRE staff and project partners will be hosting landowner workshops to discuss the initiative in greater detail. Visit online at michigan.gov/dnre for additional information. To get involved, landowners should contact Al Stewart (firstname.lastname@example.org), MDNRE upland game specialist, or Mark Sargent (email@example.com), MDNRE private lands coordinator.
• A one-time drawing will be held Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. for trapping in the wildlife refuge portion of the Killdeer Plains State Wildlife Area in Wyandot County. Nine units are available.
Participation is limited to adults age 18 and older. The chosen trapper may designate an assistant to assist. All applicants must register prior to 6:30 p.m. and must show a valid 2009 or 2010 Ohio Furtakers Permit. No one may enter the refuge for inspection prior to receiving a permit.
The drawing will be held at the area check station at 19100 County Highway 115, Harpster, about 1 miles south of State Rt. 294.
Permits are not transferable. For details, call Killdeer Plains, 740-496-2254, or Ohio Wildlife District 2 at 419-424-5000.
Contact Steve Pollick at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6068.