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"Tim, how come you can shoot any pheasant in some areas and only male pheasants in others?"

Pheasants are one of the few upland game birds where a hunter can easily tell the difference between a hen and a rooster in flight. This feature allows hunters to be selective in their harvest and gives managers the option of controlling the harvest of hens through harvest restrictions. In Wyoming, there are basically two scenarios where we allow hunters to harvest any pheasant.

The first is in some areas where we stock pheasants. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department  raises 30,000+ pheasants each year at our Downar and Sheridan bird farms. About half of those birds are hens. We only need about 1,200 hens at each location for breeding, leaving over 12,000 surplus hens each year. These surplus hens are stocked in areas that allow the harvest of any pheasant, increasing hunting opportunities. An example of this is the Springer Special Pheasant Hunt.

We also allow hunters to harvest any pheasant in areas with marginal habitat that will not support a wild pheasant population during most years. This includes most of Wyoming, which is generally too dry and lacks adequate food resources to support wild pheasant populations.

In areas with adequate habitat capable of naturally supporting wild pheasant populations, most years, like in the Sheridan area, we have “male pheasant only” seasons. This harvest restriction protects wild hens, assuring a good breeding source for the following year.

 

Tim Thomas
Sheridan Wildlife Biologist

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