Saturday, October 25, 2014

PA Game Commission To Release Nearly 220,000 Pheasants For This Year's Hunting Season

Opportunity awaits Pennsylvania hunters with Saturday opener of small-game season.

          With small-game hunting seasons set to kick off this weekend, Pennsylvania’s state game lands are being stocked with pheasants in a year what Game Commission officials describe as an excellent year for pheasant production.   

          Nearly 220,000 pheasants will be produced this year by the Game Commission’s game farms to be stocked on game lands and other public lands to provide hunting opportunities for Pennsylvania hunters. 

          About 17,000 pheasants were released ahead of the weeklong junior-only season, which ended Oct. 18, and beginning this week, there will be several consecutive weekly releases of pheasants, as well as a late-season release of hen pheasants. In all, 103,540 roosters and 82,190 hens have been allocated for release statewide ahead of and within the early small-game season, with an additional 6,620 hens allocated for release for the late season. The best pheasant-hunting habitat and hunter access occur on more than 230 tracts of state game lands and other public lands under cooperative management with the Game Commission, and about 75 percent of the pheasants are stocked there. 

          The remaining 25 percent are released on private lands enrolled in the Game Commission’s Hunter Access Program. 

          But Robert C. Boyd, who oversees the Game Commission’s pheasant propagation program, said a yet undetermined number of surplus birds also will be released this year, driving the total number released toward 220,000. 

          “This has been a very good year for pheasant production, and it’s Pennsylvania’s pheasant hunters who will reap the rewards,” said Boyd, who heads the Wildlife Services Division, within the Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Management. “Our survey work has shown that Pennsylvania’s hunters strongly support our pheasant propagation program and the hunting opportunities it provides and this should be a banner year for pheasant hunting.” 

          Pennsylvania’s small-game season, which includes pheasant and rabbit seasons, kicks off on Saturday. Saturday also marks the opener for fox, raccoon and bobwhite quail hunting, and the trapping seasons for foxes, raccoons, coyotes, opossums, striped skunks and weasels kick off on Sunday. 

          Meanwhile, seasons for squirrels and ruffed grouse, as well as the archery deer season have already begun. And the fall turkey season opener in many Wildlife Management Units begins Nov. 1.
          It’s that magical time of year when all of Pennsylvania’s hunters and trappers have something to get excited about, said Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough.
          “By this weekend, prime time for Pennsylvania hunting will have certainly arrived,” Hough said. “At no other time of year do so many opportunities await hunters and trappers, and I hope they make the time to get out there and enjoy all that fall has to offer.” 

          Hough said pheasant hunting is a great way to introduce young people to hunting. Through stocking efforts, many birds await hunters, and the hunts often are action-packed. 

          Game Commissioner James J. Delaney Jr., who represents several northeastern counties on the Board of Game Commissioners, said the opening of the small-game season is something to which avid bird hunters like himself look forward for most of the year. 

          “It doesn’t get any better than spending a day hunting pheasants with your trusty bird dog, and I’d encourage any hunter to give it a try,” Delaney said. “Tracts all across Pennsylvania hold numbers of pheasants just waiting to be flushed. It’s exciting just thinking about it.” 

          A wealth of information on ring-necked pheasants, the Game Commission’s pheasant management program, and stockings statewide can be found at the Game Commission’s website, by placing the cursor over the “Hunt/Trap” tab, then selecting “Hunting,” then “Ring-necked Pheasant.” 

          The general pheasant hunting season closes on Nov. 29, and the late season opens on Dec. 15. Only roosters may be hunted in many WMUs, check Page 20 of the 2014-15 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest for details. 

          The digest is issued to all hunters at the times they buy their licenses, and also is available online through the Game Commission’s home page. 

          Hunters also should note that pheasant hunting is closed in all Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas, where the Game Commission is attempting to restore self-sustaining wild pheasant populations. Maps of Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas begin on Page 21 of the digest. 

          As of this release, all hunting and trapping activity remained closed on all lands public and private within Price, Barrett and Paradise townships, Monroe County, due to the ongoing search for a fugitive wanted in the ambush-shooting death of a state trooper. 

          Information on the closures will be updated regularly at the Game Commission’s website..

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