From the Field

Connecting YOU with Wildlife – Pennsylvania Game Commission


Join the Fun of Pheasant Hunting

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The cackling of a rooster exploding from heavy cover. The ringing of a bell as the dog runs through a grassy field. The satisfying sound of a shotgun’s action closing. The scent of fall emanating from the uplands. These sensory experiences are all part of pheasant hunting, and what so many hunters in the Keystone State look forward to each fall.

Bob Boyd, the head of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Wildlife Services Division, is the manager of the pheasant propagation and stocking program. With five decades of pheasant hunting experience, he also enjoys the challenge of pursuing these birds on the same public lands that we all hunt.

Here are four of his top tips for a productive pheasant hunting experience:

1. Hunt Heavier Cover

Although they are often associated with fields and grasslands, pheasants are adapted to seek out thicker cover in wetlands, thickets, and swamps when trying to hide from danger. Whether hiding from a hawk or a human hunter, a pheasant will try hard to tuck into the thickest cover that is available. Most hunters, and their dogs, will thoroughly comb the open fields in their search for pheasants. In order to find more birds, you should consider checking out the heavier cover near these fields to find the pheasants that have escaped the early waves of predator pressure.

2. Work the Edges

Much like hunting heavy cover, the strategy of hunting the edges is all about understanding pheasants’ tendencies to prefer traveling in habitat that affords it the best protection from predators. Hedgerows, ditches, weedy fencelines and powerline cuts all make for excellent places for pheasants to evade pressure. Seek these places out and be creative in how you work through the habitat. Posting a stander or two at the end of a line of cover is a proven tactic for getting pheasants to flush rather than continuing to run.

3. Stop and Start

Speaking of running, a pheasant prefers to run, walk, creep or hide over being forced to fly. Flying is the last resort when all other options are eliminated. Hunters that walk steadily through cover are often passing right by birds that are hunkered down and hiding. The bird hears or sees exactly where you are and relies on stealth to remain undetected— sometimes evading even the best dogs’ noses. But if you practice stopping and starting your movement through cover, the birds will often get nervous and flush because they think you have spotted them. Many hunters learn this the hard way by stopping at the end of the field. With guns on their shoulder and statement of “I guess there were no birds here,” a nervous pheasant suddenly launches from vegetation nearby and flies away unharmed.

4. Keep A Hunting Log

If you are fortunate to get out and hunt multiple days throughout the season – after all, it does run more than four months – you could benefit from keeping a record of what you observe while afield. A simple hunting log where you keep notes (of the location hunted, number of birds observed, and number of other hunters seen afield) will be a valuable resource to consult when planning future hunts. The most important insight may be discovering what days the pheasants are typically stocked, by noticing the patterns in stocking timetables year to year. If you discover that the birds are stocked on your local game lands on a Wednesday during the first full week of the season, you may want to head out mid-week during the first week during the following season. The heaviest hunting pressure comes on Saturdays, with Fridays being the second-busiest days for hunter activity on stocked game lands. If your log is able to help you pinpoint a key time to be afield on a week day, you may well be rewarded for your efforts.

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NEW Interactive 2018 Pheasant Allocation Map

To increase awareness of where and when pheasants will be stocked, the Game Commission publishes an allocations table and interactive stocking locations map for pheasant hunters to visit.

Select a region to see the number of male and female pheasants to be stocked in each county for each release, as well as the range of dates for each release, and a listing of each property to be stocked.

Click on the interactive map of pheasant stocking locations to see the more than 200 properties that are planned to be stocked. Click on a pheasant icon to see the property name, the number of releases and total birds released last year to get an idea of large versus small release areas. Users can zoom in to see pink highlighted areas representing areas of best pheasant hunting habitat where birds are most likely to be found.

Click here to watch this year’s Pheasant Permit Video on YouTube.

We wish all pheasant hunters a safe and successful season. With four-and-a-half months of hunting opportunity, more than two hundred stocking locations statewide, and nearly a quarter-million pheasants in the field, there are lots of great hunting memories waiting to be made.

Don’t forget, tag us in your pheasant hunting photos using #pheasanthuntpa!

 

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Rosemary Seasoned Rabbit

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It’s Wild Game Wednesday!

This week’s recipe is for our rabbit hunters. The cottontail rabbit is one of the most popular small game animals and it’s also the wild animal most often seen in towns and suburban areas around Pennsylvania. Because of its popularity and conspicuousness, the rabbit intrigues both those who hunt and those who simply enjoy nature.

On Wild Game Wednesday, we take a moment to recognize one of the most important reasons people take to the woods and fields to hunt: to fill their freezers with types of fresh, organic meat. These weekly posts include delicious, easy and seasonal wild game recipes from the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Game Cookbook that you and your family can prepare. Let us know if you try this recipe. Enjoy!

Rosemary Seasoned Rabbit - Oct. 24, 2018_Page_1

If you are interested in more wild game recipes, visit www.theoutdoorshop.state.pa.us//FBG/game/GameProductSelect.asp?catid=BKS to purchase the second edition of the cookbook for less than $10!


Lessen the Odds of a Bird/Window Collision at Your Home

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Photo credit: Jacob Dingel.

“Thud.”

Your stomach sinks and heart races as you approach the window to see what beautiful bird hit it this time. It’s autumn and birds are on the move to warmer climates.

Bird/window collisions are a common occurrence this time of year. Many times the birds will appear stunned, and will fly away. Unfortunately, many of the birds that fly away from window strikes have likely sustained some sort of damage from the collision and may not survive.

If you’re hoping there’s something you can do to help lessen the odds of a bird flying into your window, good news, there is!

The American Bird Conservancy has compiled excellent information on this topic, including strategies to prevent your windows from reflecting the sky and trees. These reflections are what confuses the birds. To them, they see a nice perch in the distance, only to blindly be stopped short by a window pane. “Thud.”

As you enjoy the phenomena of bird migration this fall, check out these science-based solutions to prevent window collisions – many of which were developed by Pennsylvania ornithologists.

Millions of birds pass through Penn’s Woods in spring and fall during migration, including several Species of Greatest Conservation Need identified in Pennsylvania’s Wildlife Action Plan. These birds face many obstacles along their journey. Each of us can make a difference at our own houses to make their trip a bit easier.

-Cathy Haffner, Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Biologist

 


No. 2 – What is a Disease Management Area?

Through the end of deer season, we will be posting a frequently asked question (FAQ) and answer related to chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania in an album on our Facebook page.

We know many of you – hunters, non-hunters, processors, taxidermists and more – have questions about CWD and the effects this disease can cause. We are here as a resource and want to help everyone understand the complexities and details related to CWD in our state.

If you have a specific question related to CWD, email pgccomments@pa.gov.

Here’s the question for week two:

CWD Fact 2

Answer:

Pennsylvania’s Disease Management Areas, or “DMAs,” have been established because at least one CWD-positive animal has been detected in close proximity. Within DMAs, specific regulations and rules apply to reduce the risk of further spreading CWD.

DMAs are established by creating a 10-mile radius buffer around the new CWD positive. In areas where CWD is present and a new CWD-positive animal is detected, no changes are made to the DMA boundary if the 10-mile buffer associated with that animal falls well within the existing DMA.

However, if the new CWD-positive location falls outside or near the existing DMA boundary, an existing DMA might be expanded or a new one created. Currently, Pennsylvania has three active DMAs.

To learn the location of DMAs within the state, please refer to our interactive map.

Click here for more information about CWD.

As a reminder, if you have a specific question related to CWD email it to pgccomments@pa.gov.

You can learn more about DMAs in Pennsylvania here.


2018 Buck Harvest Photo Contest

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The Game Commission is now accepting photos for our 2018 Buck Harvest Photo Contest. Photos will be accepted through Dec. 17.

Finalists will be selected in both the archery and firearms categories. Two winners selected by followers of the Game Commission’s Facebook page each will receive a trail camera.

To enter: Email your photo to pgc-contest@pa.gov. Be sure to include the town where the hunter resides and the county and the date in which the deer was taken.

Please note that when you submit a photo, the agency assumes ownership of it and we have your permission to use the photo for our future use.

Visit our website for FULL contest information!

*This contest is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by Facebook. Good luck to all our deer hunters!


No. 1 – What is Chronic Wasting Disease?

Through the end of deer season, we will be posting a frequently asked question (FAQ) and answer related to chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania in an album on our Facebook page.

We know many of you – hunters, non-hunters, processors, taxidermists and more – have questions about CWD and the effects this disease can cause. We are here as a resource and want to help everyone understand the complexities and details related to CWD in our state.

If you have a specific question related to CWD, email pgccomments@pa.gov.

Here’s the question for week one:

CWD Fact 1

Answer:

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an always-fatal neurodegenerative disease of cervids including deer and elk. CWD is a type of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy disease, other TSE diseases include mad cow disease, scrapie, and Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The causative agent of TSE diseases is an abnormally folded protein or prion. As these prions accumulate in the brain, they begin to cause tissue damage, eventually leading to holes in the brain.

CWD can be transmitted directly (through animal-to-animal contact) or indirectly (through a contaminated environment). CWD prions can be shed through bodily fluids such as saliva, urine, and feces. CWD was first detected in 1967 in a captive deer facility in Colorado. Since then, CWD has spread to 25 states and three Canadian provinces, including Pennsylvania.

Click here for more information.

As a reminder, if you have a specific question related to CWD email it to pgccomments@pa.gov.

 


Hunter-Style Grouse

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It’s Wild Game Wednesday!

The ruffed grouse has been Pennsylvania’s official state bird since 1931, and its beauty is admired by hunters and non-hunters alike. Grouse are still plentiful in parts of Penn’s Woods, and they can be found throughout much of the northern part of our continent in areas of suitable habitat. Grouse are gallinaceous birds and are related to quail, turkeys, pheasants and ptarmigan. The statewide grouse season opens this Saturday, Oct. 13 and runs through Nov. 24. Good luck to our grouse hunters who plan to be afield this weekend and beyond.

On Wild Game Wednesday, we take a moment to recognize one of the most important reasons people take to the woods and fields to hunt: to fill their freezers with types of fresh, organic meat. These weekly posts include delicious, easy and seasonal wild game recipes from the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Game Cookbook that you and your family can prepare.

Let us know if you try this recipe. Enjoy!

grouse

If you are interested in more wild game recipes, visit www.theoutdoorshop.state.pa.us//FBG/game/GameProductSelect.asp?catid=BKS to purchase the second edition of the cookbook for less than $10!