MCCOOL JUNCTION, Neb. — A pheasant farmer in Nebraska plans to hatch 350,000 birds at his farm this year to supply hunting preserves around the Plains and Midwest.
Ninety percent of Dustin Chrisman’s birds at Double Barrel Game Farm are expected to be pheasants, but he also hatches some chukars and bobwhite quail, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
Family friend Les Brozovsky sparked Chrisman’s interest in hatching when he was just a second-grade student. Chrisman would work for Brozovsky after school, collecting and washing eggs as well as cleaning incubators.
Before Brozovsky died just a few years later, he gave Chrisman a Sears-Roebuck incubator that was about the size of a small dresser and capable of holding about 300 eggs.
Now, Chrisman uses five climate-controlled incubators, each one capable of holding more than 21,500 eggs.
Chrisman continued to raise ducks and geese with his hand-me-down incubator through junior high. But he wasn’t earning enough seeing a duck or two at the time.
His father suggested he work with pheasants, so he built pins at his family’s farm and ordered 500 chicks, which he raised and sold. That’s when he realized he’d likely be hatching pheasants for a living.
“I think I saw an opportunity there,” he said. “I was looking for something out of the ordinary, something to do that was a little different.”
Chrisman continued taking care of 20,000 birds and 100 cows in York County on weekends while earning his animal science degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Today, Chrisman helps young people interested in pheasant farming, giving them chicks and advice, much like Brozovsky did.