In many situations there isn’t a strong case to be made for stocking, planting, releasing and otherwise putting fish and game where the animals or fish can’t reproduce and maintain a population on their own.
Trout, for example, used to be stocked prolifically prior to the season opener. Then, with habitat improvement and careful land practices, trout began to maintain their own populations, in some cases beyond what was taken out on an annual basis. Some streams or parts of streams may actually have too many trout.
Ring-necked pheasants, I believe, are a different animal. Prime pheasant habitat is limited in Wisconsin. Wisconsin winters wreak havoc on the population quite regularly. There is, however, some good fall and early winter cover on some state-owned land, usually referred to as wildlife areas.
The Poynette Game Farm funding has been increased of late and there is now a very successful pheasant raising and releasing program of about 75,000 birds annually. In no way does this program pay for itself, but it is a great opportunity for hunters, and their dogs, and should be continued.
Year-round pheasant habitat, on the other hand, comes and goes. Winter survival is tied closely to the conservation reserve program acreage. Most recently, many acres have been removed from the programs and gone with those losses are the habitat these birds need to live and reproduce.
The state land can be cycled through crops and fallow vegetation. Other animals use the habitat as well, including many native birds, deer, turkeys and rabbits.
Beginning hunters, flushing and pointing dogs, young and old bird hunters, even dog owners who simply want to exercise their dogs make good use of these pheasant release areas.
All during the season, from mid-October to December’s end, hunters are flushing birds. Pheasant hunters tolerate turkey, deer and rabbit hunters during this time, too.
This is a successful program that should be continued and expanded whenever possible for the benefit of the land and the outdoors bird hunters, bird watchers, photographers and dog handlers.
Support it when you can. Enjoy it to the utmost. Try it if you haven’t in the past.