Pheasant season could be extended a week this year

Staff Report

Ashley, Ohio — Although official numbers won’t be in until
April, a DNR Division of Wildlife biologist said there were likely
about 200,000 pheasants harvested during the recently completed
season.

And there may be another week of pheasant hunting opportunity on
the slate for 2006-2007.

Scott Hull, the division’s project leader at the Olentangy
Wildlife Research station, said those 200,000 birds fell under the
guns of about 100,000 Ohio hunters, meaning the average hunter
bagged two birds during the season that ended Jan. 2. The season
began Nov. 4.

“The pheasant harvest doesn’t change a whole lot from year to
year,” Hull said.

Hunters averaged four hours in the field per hunt to achieve
those numbers, Hull said.

The majority of the pheasant harvest, Hull said, were the
product of pen-raised birds that were either released by the
Division of Wildlife or reared on game farms. Hull estimated that
about 60 percent of the total pheasant take can be attributed to
those programs. There are about 40 private game reserves in the
state.

The Division of Wildlife released 15,300 birds last fall at 28
state-owned lands. The following wildlife areas received birds:
Delaware, Pleasant Valley, Killdeer Plains, Wyandot, Resthaven,
Willard, Oxbow Lake, Beach City, Berlin, Camp Beldin (youth only),
Grant River, Highlandtown, Shreve, Spencer, Wellington, West
Branch, Zeppernick, Dillon, Salt Fork, Fallsville, Indian Creek,
Spring Valley, Rush Run, Caesar Creek and Darke. Pheasants were
also released at Maumee State Forest, North Turkeyfoot area of Mary
Jane Thurston State Park and at Charlemont Metro Park.

Quail is a different story. Hull estimates that there were
18,000 quail hunters taking to the fields from Nov. 4 through Nov.
27 and the total harvest is expected around 25,000.

The Division of Wildlife does not release pen-raised quail and
only 16 counties are open to hunting. There are game farm hunts
available for quail, and Hull said those areas likely produced more
than half of the total take.

“Quail populations were down again but a lot of our hunters are
hunting on game preserves,” Hull said. “The center of the
(naturally occurring) quail universe in Ohio is in Highland County
(in southwest Ohio). Highland, and then Brown and Adams counties
were the hot spots this past season.”

A proposal under consideration now would extend the pheasant
season in 2006-2007 an extra week. The DNR Division of Wildlife has
proposed that the season run from Nov. 4 through Jan. 8 to help
those hunters who pursue both pheasant and deer through the
winter.

“I think that’s just to accommodate for extra time that would be
taken away (from hunting pheasants) with the extra gun season (for
deer) that is proposed,” said Hull. “An extra week for pheasants, I
don’t think that makes much of a difference in terms of
harvest.”

Final harvest numbers for pheasant and quail should be available
by April, Hull said. Hunter surveys are still coming in, he said,
and there is a backlog of data to enter to get to the final
statistics.

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