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Thread: Pheasant opener California--it ain't South Dakota! What is going on?

  1. #1
    Senior Member 7pntail's Avatar
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    Default Pheasant opener California--it ain't South Dakota! What is going on?

    Hunted three days, and put up a few birds. Ended with 5 for a lot of hard work (all fun though). And pointer dog friends had about the same. Very tough hunting, very few birds.

    Pheasant hunting used to be decent--last five years, the hatch has been horrible. Lot's of theory's. But, it doesn't appear to be the usual culprit--habitat.

    If My intel is correct, Gray lodge shot 19 roosters and 90 turkeys on the opener. It used to be a premier refuge for pheasants. In most years Grey Lodge would check in hundreds. What is going on here in Cali?

    Theory's: West Nile spraying has killed all of the bugs. Turkey's eat the clutch eggs. Pesticides are taking their toll.

    The low numbers are across the board private and public. Any thoughts?
    John Stroh, Lodi ca


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    Senior Member JustinS's Avatar
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    John - I live in SD and unless you have access to private land it is the same around here - the culprit here is though that so many out of state hunters and local city people hunt the public land so much the birds are hiding out on private land that people dont get to hunt.

    That being said, I do have some family friends up in N. SD that let us hunt their land and MAN WAS THERE BIRDS!!! we kicked up well over 50 birds out of every field - granted we had to work our tails off for them but we saw a ton.

    The first day wasnt bad because they were in the CRP (upland) grassy areas near corn and soybean fields- after we kicked them out of there - (Some of the guys didnt realize how fast the birds were compared to pen raised birds) we hunted tree lines and got a few birds there.

    on the second and third day we walked through reeds and more reeds and more reeds but the birds were not holding, and the guys posting at the end of the sloughs were not exactly sharp shooters.

    So long story short if you come to South Dakota to hunt be prepared to walk and use a #3 or #2 shot
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    Senior Member Billie's Avatar
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    I have noticed for Many years, there have not been the wild birds here in CA. A field near my place used to be good for 4 roosters killed opening morning- about a 2 hr walk. Last time I hunted that spot- never saw a hen even, much less , a rooster. Things that have changed, the neighboring property has took out their rice, and planted almonds. And.. there are a LOT of coyotes here- last time I walked that hunt, saw pile after pile of coyote crap.
    I used to hear the roosters in the spring -and the last few years- none....
    Grey Lodge numbers are disappointing too- shame but its pointing to the only pheasant hunting in CA is at the clubs. Too many people there to have an enjoyable day too...I'm thankful my parents took me when I was a girl- and got to see how fun it used to be.
    Last edited by Billie; 11-12-2012 at 10:29 PM.
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    Default Heck with pheasants!

    Several of our places in the north delta have either not cut their corn or pheasants have about disappeared. We changed our game plan and had an amazing dove shoot this afternoon. Big flocks floating in all afternoon. Lots of Eurosians as well. Great work for the dog in cut corn.

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    Senior Member The Snows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustinS View Post
    So long story short if you come to South Dakota to hunt be prepared to walk and use a #3 or #2 shot
    And walk, and walk, and walk! I think this year was the toughest hunt we have ever had in South Dakota. It took a day to just find the birds and when we did find them, there were definitely fewer birds this year, with the majority being hens and very few roosters!
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    Senior Member BHB's Avatar
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    I think that the answer to this might lie with the CAF&G(or now CAF&W). There have been so much influence from eco-groups and AR organizations(HSUS is now contributing, influencing and has their foot in the door with F&G) that they now have the mindset of getting rid of any "non-native species". They have killed all the mule deer that were planted on misc. islands off the coast(Catalina, Santa Cruz, etc.) as well as feral sheep, goats, hogs and elk on those islands because they were "non-native" to the area. I believe the pheasant is being considered in the same way.

    Look at how they're going about this. Limits are as high as they've ever been to at least 3(or maybe even 4/day. Haven't checked the regs lately) which is as high as they have been for years. The season used to be 3 weeks long(4 weekends) but now goes almost a month and a half. Very few or no plantings of birds occur through the F&G which used to occur every year in many places. I think that they have decided to try to get rid of the "invasive ringneck" and are trying to get all the revenue from the hunter they can in the process. JMHO.

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    Last edited by BHB; 11-13-2012 at 09:02 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7pntail View Post
    Pheasant hunting used to be decent--last five years, the hatch has been horrible. Lot's of theory's. But, it doesn't appear to be the usual culprit--habitat.

    Any thoughts?
    I have some familiarity with SD having grown up there in the 30's & 40's - pre pesticides & large scale farming - if CRP is discontinued, you will see a major loss of habitat for wildlife, trapping is non existent so the critters that are higher up on the food scale need something to eat. A hay swather going through a field is going to kill a lot more nesting birds than a 7' mower pulled by a tractor or horses - there is a reason swathers are so expensive, they are faster - farming is no longer a way of life, it is a business - our little farm had some of everything on 480 acres - it was actually a big farm for those times in that location - In the late 40's we used to take the war surplus jeep into the harvested field, knock 35 or 40 roosters in the head & can them the following day - canned unleaded wild pheasant is a real delicacy .

    On pheasant drives - every change in cover or conditions would produce from 100 to 500 birds - that is not an exaggeration - The list of why that won't happen anymore is too long to post - but those were the days for the shooter & harvester - I personally prefer to watch my dog work up an individual bird & hopefully be able to drop it for him to retrieve - taking a trained dog into bird cover is the ultimate hunting experience .
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    Senior Member Hunt'EmUp's Avatar
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    We actually had many more wild-birds than last year down by Calexico-Mexically, seems they are seeking over the boarder. Only saw 2 hen the whole time out about to 6-9 roosters, hard wild birds to bring down. Not great numbers but way more than the 2-3 wild birds we saw last year. Unfortunately they have been cleaning out the ditches down there, very little cover for them to hide in so next year numbers might be lower
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    Senior Member 7pntail's Avatar
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    No doubt intensive farming is taking its toll. I used to see birds in Lodi. Grapes make for good wine, but not good habitat. Pheasants need cover and food, that simple--or perhaps not.

    But, those two elements are not an issue on a refuge. Great cover, table is set with rice all around. Something else (predators ?) is in the mix. I have access to some private rice ground as well. The hunting is worse in most cases. I don't think the "experts" know what is going on either. I do "get" the agenda to eliminate non native species (dfg) but that doesn't explain the horrible hatch results in this case.

    Briar worked has nose off. And, on a side note, do yellow's have a more sensitive nose compared to black's and chocolate's? His nose was so bloody on day three that I finally put him up .

    Thanks all -----pheasant dinner in the oven!
    John Stroh, Lodi ca


    There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace…........If one has cut, split, hauled, and piled his own good oak, and let his mind work the while, he will remember much about where the heat comes from, and with a wealth of detail denied to those who spend the weekend in town astride a radiator.

    Aldo Leopold

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    Senior Member Swack's Avatar
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    Folks,

    I don't know about CA, but my main concern for midwestern pheasant populations is $8/bushel corn! The drought may have affected numbers here in Indiana. I was hoping that warmer drier weather might mean fewer nests flooded out in low lying areas and no damp chilled chicks. However, I think it might have meant that farmers could get their mowers into areas that are usually too wet to mow and they destroyed nests and/or nesting areas as well as brood rearing cover. I also wonder if the dry weather may have reduced insect populations that nesting hens and growing chicks depend upon for high protein rations. I find that many hunters consider habitat from a winter cover and food perspective. However, without good nesting and brood rearing cover there will be fewer birds to shelter and feed come hunting season/winter.

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