pheasants

About 75,000 pheasants were released in Wisconsin this fall.

JERRY DAVIS, For the State Journal

Pheasant hunting on public lands (and private) has been extended with a permanent change of season closure the Sunday nearest Jan. 6 every year.

The 2017 season will close Jan. 7, 2018.

Partly because this later closure was implemented mid-season, no changes are planned for the current season stocking schedule, according to Kelly Maguire, pheasant production manager at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Poynette Game Farm.

In addition, and most significant, space and scheduling may prevent increasing the bird production above 75,000 birds were the DNR to consider stocking longer than early December.

“Later stocking in December usually would be a concern due to weather,” Maguire said. “This year has been amazing weather but normally it gets difficult for biologists to get birds into the habitat and field in December. Even having employees on the roads in bad weather can be a problem with large trucks and trailers.”

So the cutoff date has usually been early December, regardless of the season closure dates.

The most recent normal release of pheasants from Poynette Game Farm was the first week of December.

If there are any birds remaining after that early December release, those roosters may make up a very limited stocking in some southern Wisconsin public areas, Maguire said.

A major snowfall could cancel those tentative plans for this small release, so don’t count on venturing out Christmas Eve to reap a Christmas Day meal without a backup plan.

On the other hand, fall turkey season (in zones 1-5) has been extended, too.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer from Barneveld, at sivadjam@mhtc.net or 608-924-1112.

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