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Author Topic: Pheasant release in Texas  (Read 44468 times)
skipper3905
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« on: December 20, 2007, 09:03:12 PM »

I have about 400 acres in Palestine, TX. That is pretty deep in East Texas. Mostly woods but clearing off now and putting some in grain fields and some gamebird mix fields. Good cover and all in all pretty good habitat from what I read. Had quail there until a few years ago. Plan to start quail release late next spring. Planning the 5 week release program. Think it will work but time will tell. Quite a few neighbors that will prep their land also if I have any luck.

Would love to try a pheasant release also. I have heard there is a small wild Chinese ringneck pheasant population near Beaumont, TX but I don't know of any real sucessful programs other than Texas panhandle which is a totally different climate. Obviously, there is something about our climate or preditors or something that prohibits pheasant survival here. Does anybody know of any types of pheasant that might have a survival chance in East Texas? I read on one net site that the melanistic pheasant natural habitat is woods with nearby fields at a latitude close to ours. Does anybody know anything about that? I see other sites that say melanistic is not actually a breed of pheasant but a mutation.

I am at the point where I just don't know what I don't know about this. There seem to be some very knowledgeable people on this board. Hope to get some enlightenment. 
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wildergamebirds
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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2007, 01:28:09 AM »

  You'll have happier results, if you concentrate on Bobwhites.

  With heavy cover, Pheasant would probably survive, unless you have a lot of Bobcats.  They probably will NOT reproduce, there.  They may be a good choice for pre-release, raising each season's birds, if it is legal, and you acquire the proper permits.

  You may be getting information about Afghan Pheasant confused with the Melanistic name.  Ringnecked Pheasant do not prefer wooded areas.  They will utilize shelter belts and treed fence rows in heavy cold winds, and snow.  Edges of sparse timber, sometimes.

  I understand there is a pretty good population near Houston, and around the Gulf area.  If so, I'd bet there is a lot of grain being raised where they are found.
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Jake Levi
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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2007, 08:49:20 AM »


I agree, without good grain being present survival is chancey. You do have a good climate for them. You could do what I plan for this year, and thats putting a feeder at each release site to help them over the hump. This doesnt do much for predators so you need to release flight capable birds if you do it.  The Bobwhites should do well.
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Jake Levi
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skipper3905
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« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2007, 11:17:47 PM »

I plan to put in quite a few grain crops. Clearing out 5 acre patches in woods. Felling trees into the parimeter for heavy cover and leaving some felled trees in middle of patches. Think I will have good cover and feed. Probably will put out some feeders also.

I knew ringnecks nested in fields but curious if any pheasant nest in wooded cover. Seems like that would be my best chance of success. Beaumont is along the coast and does have a fair amount of agriculture and there is a pheasant population down there I hear. Sure would like to know more about that. The Texas coastal climate is like ours here in East Texas. Hot summers and very mild winters.

I am building a couple of pretty large flight pens. Not sure how much space is needed for pheasant to be flight conditioned though. Most of what I have read says to release quail at 5 weeks. Does not seem to be as much of a consensus on age to release pheasant but I was planning 5=6 weeks. Any thoughts on that?

 Never heard of Afghan pheasant. Will do a google on them as soon as I finish this post. Since I made the last post I found some information on green pheasant. Does anybody know if they are wooded cover nesters?

I do have some bobcats on my place. I read a piece by a Texas A&M biologist who said habitat was the big problem and predators were a minor problem. This piece was for quail, not pheasant.  He may be fond of bobcats, who knows? I have some cayotes, too. A friend who has been pretty successful in bobwhite release said cayotes were good to have around, they don't catch many quail but do catch feral cats who are tough on quail. Not sure how that applys to pheasant. What is no problem for a quail may be terrible for pheasant.

Anyway, no matter how this turns out I sure am having a good time working on it. As a sidebar, I bought a Deere 700H bulldozer for clearing. Getting pretty good on it so I now have another skill if the oil business goes to pot.

Really appreciate your input.

By the way, do pheasant need water? I have a couple of ponds and understand quail get adequate water from plants and insects save extreme drought periods. Have not heard anyone say on pheasant.
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Inkmann
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« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2007, 08:12:49 PM »

Pheasants ForeEver or Quail Forever will sent out a Wildlife Biologist for FREE !!!. 
They will help you draw up a plan for your property telling you what to plant, how and why.
I met the Biologist for our area last year at  our December Chapter meeting, I was very impressed, he has a lot of groups and individuals doing just what your talking about.
You might want to join it's only $30 a year and they are giving a way a very nice free hat and the magazines are great.
Heck you might want to start a chapter in your area, you could get the ball rolling or the birds flying.

I live in North Western Massachusetts "The North Berkshires" Right on the Vermont Border, I am working on buying a piece of property 10 minutes from my home in Vermont. It's an old abandoned farm, when I get it I hope be using there services to help populate that property with game birds. The only wild game birds around here are Partridge and they are scarce.

Please keep us posted.
John
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Jake Levi
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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2007, 06:52:19 PM »

Skipper you are in a very good climate for both birds, I also suggest contacting both Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever, invaluable help, good folks plus common interests, you'll enjoy working with them.

Quail fly early so they can be released early, pheasants are just nicely ready for a flight pen at 5-6 weeks of age,  I wouldnt release them before 4 mos, but thats me, 5-6 mos gives you strong flying birds with much of their growing done, they'll still keep maturing over the winter. These are things to talk with the folks at PF about.

Yes Pheasants drink water, the more ponds the better. You will find that they prefer to nest along the edges of fields, not in them. You'll find the occasional hen in a nest out in a field but if the cover is there they will use it.

There are a number of Bird breeders here, I would suggest you start your first year with chicks or started birds. Look into the Manchurian Pheasant, they can handle heat and cold and are most likely to give you a Texas sized Pheasant. Breeders here.

Spend a bunch of time going back over the old threads, they are jewels. Just what you need. There are some books available through here also, Upland Game Birds is one.

Enjoy !
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Jake Levi
Curran, MI

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coldwind
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« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2007, 01:10:48 AM »

I live in Houston I have been keeping up with the progress of wild pheasants in south east Texas for 35 years. There are small pockets of wild pheasants still around in Chamber and Jefferson counties. The rice farmers and the ranchers see them and hear them crow. However, if you went out to hunt them you might walk all day and see two pheasant. Factthat wild reproducing pheasant have survived for over 30 years in S. E. Texas simply means that can survive in S. E. Texas. Nesting cover and timely summer rains (Not Grain), is a key element. The rice is cut in August and September and is gone by December.
Wild colonies of pheasant are seen in other parts of S. E. Texas. Pheasant are now seen in part of Texas where they were notseen20years ago, for example Wild pheasant are now frequently seen 50 to 60 mile south of Lubbock in cotton country, nesting cover, CRP and timely summer rain helped. Also wild pheasants are seen all along the Red River near Childress on both sides of the river,
 wild flushing pheasants are seen (not tame birds), again nesting cover and 2007 summer rain help these bird hatch.

Pheasant should survive well in Palestine, Texas. However, most pen-raised pheasants are tame and the predator will eat them up. So you need to start off with with the Two Wildest and Wary strains of the "True Pheasant" (Ringneck-Type) commercially available and they are: 1. Afghan Whitewing Pheasant (also known as The White-Wing Pheasant and Bianchi's Pheasant) Extremely Wild and Wary. The Whitewing pheasant was released all over New Mexico 40 years ago and also released near Lubbock years ago but quickly hybridized with the ringneck to produce a wilder pheasant in that area. To see photos of  Whitewing pheasants in the wild state go to: "Bosque del Apache N. W. R. photo by Gayle P. Clement" Toubl Game Bird Farm has the wild Afghan Whitewing Pheasant. 2. The Manchurian Pheasant (Similar to the Chinese ringneck but much, much wilder). Macfarlane pheasant farm has th ManChurian Pheasant. We ordered both strains of these two pheasants for release in north Texas and they are wild and beautiful.
For more backgrown information about" The True Pheasant" Read "The Pheasants of The World by Jean Delacour" the Melanistic Mutant Pheasant is indeed a mutant  not a sign of wildness but just the opposite a sign of domestication.
Texas hunters should not have to drive eight or twelve hours to Kansas to pheasant hunt we should enjoy good quail hunting and good pheasant hunting right here in Texas.

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skipper3905
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2008, 01:43:05 AM »

Coldwind,   What a helpful post. Thanks a lot. I just went to Amazon.com and they did not carry the Delacour book you mentioned, however they did have another Delacour book on care and raising pheasant. I ordered it along with a couple of other books on pheasant. By the way, what is CRP?

Another person on this board mentioned the Afghan pheasant and since I have read some on it. I also read up on the Mcfarlane Manchurian cross. I think I have decided on the latter though I love the look of the Afghan. Some propensity to roost in trees was mentioned with both.

I was surprised that you feel grain is not an essential element. I always thought that was the key with pheasant.

This is what is puzzleing to me. There must have been hundreds, maybe thousands of pheasant release efforts in East Texas and the south over the years. Why are they not experiencing more success? Maybe it is the type bird. Hopefully, the Manchurian cross will solve that. The whitewing Afghan has been around for years it appears, surely it has been tried.

I have some predators in my area. A few bobcats and a few raccoons but no more than other parts of the country that have good pheasant populations. I do see a few feral cats. That worries me. May try trapping.

My land is mostly woods on a big ridgeline. Very hilly. I bought a bulldozer and clearing out a number of 3 to 6 acre clearings. One large 20 acre clearing. Some of the trees I am pushing to the center for a burn but trying to leave a number of pushed down trees on the parimeter for cover.

I have several ponds, one near the 20 acre clearing. Hopefully that will do. Not much I can do about that.

The land surrounding me are woods, pasture, and abandoned fields. I think a fair number of the neighbors will make a effort to accomodate habitat if I have any success. I am thinking about buying another 700 acres next to me but it is all pasture in coastal and would take a few years to get it suitable.

I am not sure what is best in way of planting fields. This spring I will put giant ragweed in some areas and a gamebird seed mix in most areas. Probably will mix some milo with that. A sunflower patch. I have about 8 acres in winter wheat and oats now. That will not seed until this summer.  Will take a year or so for grass and vines to start on woods parimeters. Would be better to wait until fall after next to start release but I don't want to wait that long. I am worried that a release before the habitat is perfect but  planning on quail release this summer anyway. Can buy quail locally at 5 wks for release. No idea what the best release amount is but thinking 100 birds releasing 25 in four locations. Will do this two times, putting 200 quail on the place this year. Same thing next year and hopefully that will get a population going. 

Bought incubator and brooder and intend on buying the Mcfarlane eggs for pheasant. So likely earliest I could release pheasant would be next September or October. I have read where only 5% of release pheasant will survive first year. Assume this factors in the normal 70% normal loss. Even these survivors don't live more than 3 years so I can see how getting a population going will tough. What is the earliest a pheasant can be released. I see the quail starts losing survival instincts rapidly at 5 weeks, would seem there is some point where pheasant starts to do the same.

Another thought. With pheasant, planning on releasing 8 hens with one cock ratio. Will save remaining cocks for hunt release with friends.

Sorry for being so windy on this but I started this journey knowing nothing about pheasant or quail and know very little more now but anxious to know everything. Was really glad to hear more  about that sustaining population in Chamber and Jefferson counties. My climate is similar.

Stay in touch, if I can get this working would like you come up and shoot a few. Many years back I lived in Houston. Palestine in a lot slower paced. In fact, when Santa Anna left, he said "Don't do anything, I'll be back".  Sure enough...

(Actually Santa Anna never got further north than Buffalo Buyou but it makes a cute story)
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Jake Levi
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2008, 04:13:53 PM »

One of our most active list members raises the Manchurian Pheasants and sells eggs, check back through the threads on Pheasants and you'll see Steve's posts.

Steve at Pheasant Hollow Farm.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 04:19:37 PM by Jake Levi » Logged

Jake Levi
Curran, MI

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coldwind
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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2008, 08:47:15 PM »

Skipper, I will address all of your concerns. Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a government program that encourages farmers to convert erodible cropland into vegetative cover native grasses. CRP is excellent nesting cover for pheasant and quail. In March, April, May and June the mama pheasant needs and ocean of green (wheat or native grasses etc..) 12 to 16 inches high to make a nest and incubate the eggs for 23 to 24 days, undisturbed nesting cover lot of it, so the predators can't find them. CRP, in the southwest,  a wet spring and summer is very beneficial to pheasants hatching, that why we had a good hatch of pheasants in the Texas panhandle, Oklahoma panhandle and S.W. Kansas.

If you goggle "Bosque del Apache N. W. R. photo by Gayle P. Clement" and carefully review all of the photos you will notice a number of ground as well as aerial predators.
In that same group of photos notice the wild pheasants (White-Wing or Bianchi's Pheasant type)  are not surrounded by grain fields. The point I am making is that truly wild pheasants can live with predators and in areas without large quantities of grain.

Also notice the light or yellow iris (eyes) of the wild pheasant at Bosque del Apache (New Mexico) , birds of prey have similar iris color thus giving them excellent vision to capture prey. Conversely, the light or yellow iris on the wild White-Wing and the ringneck hybrids in that area may allow these pheasants  to see aerial and ground predators better. These birds are not stupid, predators have a hard time catching them, they agile alert, wary and extremely wild.

I doubt if anybody in East Texas ever made a concerted  effort to stock truly wild pheasants and prepare the land for them. Please note (34 years ago) that the wild pheasants established on the Texas coast south of Beaumont in the rice country came from wild-trapped pheasants from the Sacramento Valley of California and were crossed the White-Wing type.
Therefore pheasant wildness, habitat (undisturbed nesting cover) and some grain are all main elements to getting pheasant started.

The White-Wing pheasants have not been commercially available for along time.

Release pheasants in the wild on a 50% hens and 50%cocks. If  you release  8 hens to one cock, predator might catch the cocks, don't risk areas of infertility.

I would only order Manchurian cross pheasants from Macfarlane pheasant farm.







 





 
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coldwind
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« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2008, 04:15:38 PM »

Skipper, I did not finish my last post. On the question of survival of released pheasants "only 5% will survive the first year"  not always true, that is the average. However, with wilder pheasants you may have much better luck, you may even have a 70 or 80% survival. The 3 year story is also an average.  Tell your neighbors about the pheasant release they can also protect them, and develop some predator control. I would release pheasants (after a big rain if possible to reduce dehydration) between 12 and 14 weeks old, also put out some feeders.
Remember the longer a pheasant live in the wild state the wiser he becomes' it's called "woodwise" and the first generation that hatches in Palestine will will be wilder than their parents.
You can also hear the cock pheasants crowing in the spring time, the crow count, will help you determine how many birds survived the winter and how far they have spread.

The wild instinct is genetic, therefore the wilded type pheasants will not lose their survival instincts.
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gsc
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« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2008, 05:33:45 PM »

Strombergs says they carry a limited number of Whitewings.

Try here:

http://www.strombergschickens.com/stock/pheasants.php
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Jake Levi
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« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2008, 11:15:18 AM »

 s87

On survival, I have mentioned on other threads, having a feeder around the release site for a few months is a help, how much of a help I'll tell you better this time next year.

Strombergs also carrys the Black Neck Bohemian, I have heard good things about them, big and very wild.

One other thing about the Quail and Pheasant Forver Folks is that they are going to be in your area and are already familiar with the problems that you will face.
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Jake Levi
Curran, MI

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skipper3905
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« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2008, 02:09:55 AM »

Jake,   Have looked at the Bohemians. Pretty bird and big. Right now, sort of favoring the McFarlane cross. Have read some on the Afghan and may go with them. Three pops hanging in in Arizona. Understand Afghans lay later in year. Not sure if decrease in fertility if crossed with other subspecies. A different laying period would seem to indicate that. Have some time before deciding on this.

Have tried to contact Pheasant Forever. No luck, but probably my fault. I don't seem to think about it until the evening, too late to call, and can't seem to get email through.

Good information from Coolwind on the Houston area introduction and real glad to hear surviving pop may be better than the 5%.

I am a little confused on when to disc. I disc a few acres today but thinking ahead what do birds do for cover when feeding during that period after discing and the time weeds or grain is large enough to offer cover?

Also, I can't quite figure out how best to catch birds for release or shooting. I have built 6 pens, about 300 sf each and building 3 flypens 3200 sf each. I don't have a clue if these are right sizes or not. I have come across people suggesting so many different sizes, I think one may be good as the other. I just can't quite figure out how I am going to catch the darn things in the flypen.

I have never hatched, raised, or released a gamebird in my life but roughly here is the sequence I see. Buy the eggs, put in incubator, wait 24-26 days, put in brooder for 2 weeks, put in flypen (have heat in flypens), wait 8 weeks, maybe 12 to 14 weeks, maybe 6 months (getting info all over the place on that but probably a judgement call), Release.

Now, before I get a lot of flak I understand buy from reputable dealer, eggs may not hatch, cannibilism in brooder, disease, and dozens of other bad things that can happen at each stage and probably will.  Assume a miracle I am lucky enough to get to the stage where I have birds ready for release, how do I catch them in the flypen? If the birds are wild and I get in a big flypen with a net they are going to be flying into the wire (yes, have netting on top) and breaking their necks it would seem. Actully, I have a guy that works for me that is going to be handling all this but he doesn't  know anymore than me about all this and that is darn little. He just drew the black bean when I put him on this project. 
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Jake Levi
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« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2008, 07:59:57 AM »

Hi Skipper

my flight pen I am building in a couple months is smaller then yours, but it tapers to one end, in every measurement, hopefully can herd them, mostly to the smaller end and swing the opening sides in, then collecting them at night . If you can arrange to visit a couple Pheasant farms it will help.

I'd figure on 3 weeks at least in the brooder although you are much warmer down there right now.

Keep trying with the Pheasant Forever folks, well worth it.

I dont believe you'll catch much flak here you seem to be doing things in a very considered manner. You'll find folks here very helpful, we're rooting for you.  s98
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Jake Levi
Curran, MI

"A government big enough to give you all that you want is big enough to take all that you have".
Thomas Jefferson
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