Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pheasant Shortage Hampers Youth Season

About the writer
Bob Frye is the Tribune-Review outdoors editor. 

Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs president Ted Onufrak delivered a message at his group's recent convention.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission had just announced that flooding at its two game farms in Lycoming County had killed or set free about 40 percent of all the pheasants that were to be stocked this fall. The agency was warning hunters to expect fewer birds across all counties and all seasons.
That's when Onufrak said sportsmen wanted the commission to stock as many birds as originally planned for the youth pheasant season, open only to kids ages 12 to 16.
"Most of the guys I've talked to have said keep that the same and let the rest of us take the heat," Onufrak said.

The commission didn't commit to that at the time. Deputy executive director Matt Hough said the commission would supply all of the birds promised for mentored youth hunts, but added that the fate of the general youth season was up in the air.
"Our goal is to get as many birds harvested as possible," Hough said then. "The question is, is that in the general season or in the youth season? We're still thinking about that."
The commission made its decision Monday, and it's the kids who will share in the suffering.
The commission has 73,390 pheasants to stock this year, down from the expected 104,000. That's a decline of about 31 percent.
Of those, 11,510 — or 31 percent less than last year — will be allocated for the junior-only season that's set for Oct. 8-15.
The commission will still supply 1,800 pheasants for this year's mentored hunts.
The remaining 60,080 birds will be stocked in time for the Oct. 22 to Nov. 26 general season that's open to all hunters. Plans to stock birds in the late season, from Dec. 26 to Feb. 4 have been canceled.
That's rough, but things could have been worse, said commission executive director Carl Roe in a statement. The commission was able to recover almost 10,000 birds set free by the flooding or there would have been even fewer available, he said.

The better news is that the losses suffered now will not — as was initially thought — impact the commission's ability to raise 200,000 pheasants for next fall, Roe said.
"Hatcheries, brooder houses, barns, workshops, farm equipment and waterlines in the fields were relatively untouched. We will retain a sufficient number of hen pheasants to serve as a breeder flock to enable us to reach the 200,000 pheasant hunting season release level next year," Roe announced.

Pheasants: when and where

Preseason stocking of pheasants for the general season will begin Oct. 19. The first and second in-season stockings will be Oct. 27 or 28 and Nov. 3 or 4, respectively. A third in-season stocking will be conducted Nov. 10 in areas surrounding the Somerset, Central Susquehanna, Hegins-Gratz Valley and Franklin County wild pheasant recovery areas.

Only male pheasants are legal game in wildlife management units 2A, 2B, 2C, 4C, 4E, 5A and 5B. Male and female pheasants are legal game in all other units.
The northwest region will be stocked with 5,230 male pheasants and 8,390 females, while the southwest will get 14,020 males and 4,170 females. To see the specific locations where birds will be stocked, visit

Read more: Pheasant shortage hampers youth season - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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