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Author Topic: Pheasant release in Texas  (Read 28761 times)
skipper3905
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« Reply #30 on: February 15, 2008, 12:06:23 PM »

Labmancan,

Stealing an idea from me would not even rank as petty theft, I'm afraid. Probably not at the stage now that pictures would be worthwhile. Besides, I'm so low tech I don't know if I could figure out how to do it.

As I get a little further along, I might get my secretary to show me how and I'll post some.
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TexAg
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« Reply #31 on: February 16, 2008, 03:30:22 PM »

Keep us posted on the progress and how it goes.  Im pretty interested to see how it turns out for ya.
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coldwind
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« Reply #32 on: February 17, 2008, 12:48:58 AM »

Hi Skipper

When it comes to getting pheasants started, I knew that you would not get any support from "Pheasant Forever" . You see they don't believe in stocking pheasants. I don't mean to critizise an organization the does a lot of good for pheasants in the present North American pheasant range.  Habitat developement and CRP preservation, all of the is good for pheasants in their present pheasant range. But they are not interested in expanding the pheasant range.

 I understand their basic principle. However, if wilder strains of pen raised pheasants had not been stocked by the thousands,  in the first place, in Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and in the Texas panhandle (only 35 to 40 years ago) we wouldn't have any wild pheasants in the fields at all. People from Hereford and Dimmitt, Texas (excellent pheasant country) Would still be driving to South Dakota to pheasant hunt.

Not believing in stocking pheasants by "Pheasant Forever" is like NASA not believing in Rocket technology.



The other problem I have with them not believing in  stocking pheasants, is that people  who join "Pheasant Forever" from places like Austin, Texas ; Lake Charles, Mobile , Atlanta or Jacksonvile, Florida are never given any hope of seeing wild pheasants in their areas. The pheasant range is not done yet. Just 130 years ago wild pheasants were not seen in any parts of North Amarica.

I am a member of "Pheasant Forever"  I don't want to sound too critical  "Pheasant Forever" does a lot of good for upland wildlife, I enjoy the magazine the article and pictures are nice. Good infomation on habitat also. I like the photos, but I also like to see real live wild pheasants.

Just a little encouragement.

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skipper3905
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« Reply #33 on: March 25, 2008, 12:33:09 AM »

Coldwind, 

Been a while since I posted, hope you are still monitoring this. Do you have any idea who sells whitewing eggs? A few months back I came across a hatchery that sold them but can't find them now.

By the way, will be releasing my first bobs in a couple of weeks. About 250 it looks like. Just got another 600 in the incubator.

Bought some land that adjoins my place. Gives me about 1200 acres, most of the new land in coastal bermuda pasture. Will take quite a while to get it turned and in grain. Borrowed a real big disc that can pull behind my dozer. Will dig very deep so will have to come back over with tractor disc. The coastal is really thick and would take five or six passes with a regular disc unless I initially break deep with the dozer disc. Funny, most people in my area go to a lot of trouble and expense to get coastal in and I am taking it out. Been planting ragweed also. Most people try to get rid of that. Now, am I right that pheasant like to next in milo fields? Going to a awful lot of trouble to miss that mark.

Another question. I think I understand cover requirements for quail. Needs to be about 75 yards apart optimum. Necessary to escape from predators. I read about cover being necessary for pheasant but have not seen a good explanation of how to space it. Most comments on pheasant cover I read are referring to escape areas from weather, not predators. This new land I bought has very big open fields, occasional copse of trees and quite a few draws. Much like you would see in Kansas. The quail habitat will be optimized with 1-5 acre food plots in wooded areas. This does not seem to be the case with pheasant.

Another question, do pheasant eat acorns? Hard to believe but quail actually do eat sandjack acorns (a small acorn but still seems large for a quail).
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wildergamebirds
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« Reply #34 on: March 25, 2008, 02:55:13 PM »

Coldwind, 
 The coastal is really thick and would take five or six passes with a regular disc unless I initially break deep with the dozer disc. Funny, most people in my area go to a lot of trouble and expense to get coastal in and I am taking it out. Been planting ragweed also. Most people try to get rid of that.

  Folks is weird, ain't they?

  I have a semi-friend who wants Quail on his property.  I went over everything with him, in detail.  What was needed, what had to go.  We tried to evaluate a pup on his land last winter.  On 120 acres, there were only two spots to hide a Quail, one was a brier patch, 3 feet wide, 10-12 feet long, with dense, short fescue.  Last week he called, telling me he had been out bush hogging.  "Bush hogging what? Rocks?"  "Bush hogged all them briers, so the grass would grow"!

  Milo would not be best nesting area for Pheasant.  It is better for feed, late, in areas that could have ice, or heavy snow.  In most of Kansas, Wheat and Milo are planted in progression in the same field.  Milo is planted after the Wheat is harvested in June and July.  Milo is then harvested in Nov.  Unharvested Milo makes decent cover for Pheasant in the fall and winter, but you will want weedy draws, and/or shelter belts for added cover.  Multi-floral rose, ragweed, small, multi-head sunflowers, and Lespodeza would be good along the draws.

  Milo is also great for Quail, and the brushy draws and shelter belts will be good for Quail and Whitetails.

  The Pheasant will survive, if you don't have too many Bobcats, but if they would reproduce in your area, they would probably be there, now, considering the number of Texans that love to hunt.
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skipper3905
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« Reply #35 on: March 25, 2008, 10:31:09 PM »

Wilderbirds,

There is a sustaining population of pheasant between Baytown and Houston. Release was done in 1972. Not much agriculture there anymore. Some rice farming but somehow flooded fields does not sound condusive. Nevertheless, there is a thin population of phesant there. There is a large population of introduced pheasant in the Texas panhandle and West Texas. Coldwind has a good post on that in this thread. 

Of the 1200 acres, about 600 are pretty thick woods. A small amount of marshland. Four small ponds, two small lakes. In the wooded areas I have cleared out about 20 3 to 5 acre food plots in the woods  that I have in oats, wheat, sunflowers, clover and gamebird mix (which has milo in it). Planted ragweed in a number of very small clearings and along roadsides.

Have draws all over the place. Really have no problem with shelter cover.

My concern is over the big open fields. There are three that are over 100 acres that are in coastal bermuda grass. This is very good for cattle, can carry a cow and calf per acre. Very high yield for livestock. I just don't intend to use it for cattle. This is the part that I said reminded me of Kansas but we rarely have snow here and when we do it barely covers the ground.

Of the literature I have read milo is mentioned as the best grain for pheasant. Gets about 3 feet high. Milo is a close cousin of corn. I can plant corn, of course, no more trouble or expense, just what I have read recommended milo. I am not going to harvest any of what I plant.

I do have some bobcats in my area. Over the years I have seen a couple. Have been thinning out raccoons and feral cats. Still, I have no more than any other part of the country in which pheasant do well. I'm sure after I start releasing predators will be attracted. Just no way to get around that.

I have a lot of broomsedge which is ideal for quail nesting. Just not sure what will be good for pheasant nesting.

I suspect my land is quite a bit different than your semi-friend. Most people think of Texas as wide open and arid. Where I live is much like Virginia or Missouri. Actually checked on native common pheasant habitat and they seem to do well in the same latitude with same annual rainfall as my area. Of course, they do well in much more northern latitudes also. Point is, in their native areas the common pheasant is not relegated to a narrow band of climate restrictions. You are right that there have been many thousands (I suspect) of pheasant releases in the American south with almost zero success. I think, like quail, habitat is the real issue with getting a pheasant population going. Still, I really don't know what the problem is but going to give it a try anyway.   
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coldwind
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« Reply #36 on: March 26, 2008, 02:05:21 AM »

Skipper,

You are moving in the right direction. Yes pheasant do eat acorns, small acorns. There are small oak trees in the Texas panhandle (scrub oaks) pheasants definitely eat the acorns from them.

The Whitewing Pheasant eggs are sold at (yahoo):

1. "Pheasant Game Birds- Toubl Game Farms- Game Birds" click on Mature Birds (left) then scroll down, click on
     Afghan Whitewing Pheasant( watch them fly )- Call them about  Afghan Whitewing Pheasant eggs and chicks.

2.  "Stromberg's Game Birds" Call them about Afghan Whitewing Pheasant eggs (only want afghan whitewing eggs
     no other species)  Don't order the other off colored pheasant like the Buff or Melanistic Mutant, not a sign of true   
     wildness.

The deep dozer disc should get rid of some of the ground and bull snakes in the area (they eat quail and pheasant eggs). An arial predators will hoover looking for prey, so if I am a pheasant feeding in a field I would need to dash for cover when I noticed a hawk diving. The closer the cover the better. For pheasants and quail cover 50 to 75 yards apart should work. With milo and feeders nearby the game birds should not have to venture out too far.

Remenber, the wilder stains of pheasants are genetically equipped to keep a low profile, ducking at the first sign of danger, crouching down when danger approaches.

Pete Squibb, international pheasant and game bird authority and WPA President (from Michigan) proved this point with the Sichuan pheasant, predation was much lower with the Sichuans. Just like the Whitewing subspecies of the True Pheasant the Sichuan is extremely wild , alert and agile. To see a wild photo of the Sichuan pheasant Google or Yohoo "Mike Moran Photography-cyclops" then scroll down to the 18th almost last photo.

Note the yellow iris  of the Sichuan, like the whitewings better to escape night time arial and grown predators like cats. Some people think newer wilder strains of True Pheasant like Whitewing, Sichuan and Manchurian (Jilin) will replace the ringneck, not at all they will only add greater agility and predator alertness to the ringneck gene pool.
People are under estimating the viciousness and growing number of predators.
 
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coldwind
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« Reply #37 on: March 26, 2008, 06:37:43 PM »

Skipper,

You are on the right track, keep going. Food for thought; We have all heard about Owen Denny who was successful in gettig the first ringneck pheasants started in the U.S. in 1881. People frequently forget that those birds were captured in the rice farming areas around Shanghai, China.

Shanghai, is in the south part of that country on or near the 30 parallel. The 30 parallel is the same as Houston, Texas (warm and humid in the summer). Shanghai  is also warm and humid in the summer time and not much snow in the winter.

Keep us posted on your progress.
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skipper3905
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« Reply #38 on: December 30, 2008, 12:07:24 AM »

'Coldwind,

Hope you are still monitoring this. I am a lot further along with this project, been doing quite a bit of reading and somewhat more knowledgeable.  I have pheasant brooder stock ready, a Afghan cross. They seem to be doing well. Have about 90 birds. Half hens. Should be enough to get started when egg season commences. Had some trouble with pheasant hatch rate but think I have that figured out now. A long way to go but have several hundred acres that has habitat about right now, will get more next year.

Really encouraged to find a full covey of quail today. They have been out several months. Have been seeing them in twos and threes but today first covey. I posted elsewhere on this. First year on quail. Did a lot of things wrong, learned a lot. Think I will make it work this year. Will see.

I have a concern on several potential problems. One is soil here in East Texas, mostly sandy loam and red clay, pretty much the same though the southeast. There are a number of studies out on calcium depravation in nonglaciated soil. I know there are populations in nonglaciated soil (little calcium in nonglaciated soil) Central Ariz, Central Georgia, Western Carolinas, south Louisiana, and Liberty county area in Texas are the ones I have found out about, could be others.

I'm going to get a little windy here but not sure how to get the idea across otherwise. There is a study out from Brigham Young showing calcium in diet under .2% drops egg production in half. Odd, high calcium does the same thing but I think there is another reason for that, not a concern. Anyway, all the populations in southeast are in light agriculture areas. I don't think the food is the problem, Pheasant do ok in their natural habitat in non agricuture areas. I think the cover ag gives is as important as the grain. There have been thousands of introductions in the American southeast, all but this handful unsuccessful and those very thin. Our climate, rainfall, and altitude are the same as strong native populations. China does not have raccoons and coyotes but Kansas does.  There has to be something different in the soil that is causing pheasant introduction to fail or be so thin as to be barely sustaining. I think it is calcium. When soil is limed there is a reaction that produces calcium in sandy loam and clay soils. Southeast agriculture must be limed. That may explain how some of these populations have managed to hang in. It does not explain all. Arizona has two populations, very thin, that are not in agriculture areas and not glaciated but different soil than southeast. The Texas north and northwest has decent populations but the altitude and soil is so very different from American southeast I don't think that area is worth comparing.

Pheasant have something in common with chickens in season. They are fast layers and have a sturdy shell. Chickens don't lay right without calcium reinforcement. A lot more to that but too much writing already.

If I am right this is not a big problem to solve. Won't go into that here, again, too much writing. I could go ahead and try the fix I have in mind but would be several years before I would know for sure if it worked. Hell, I'm 63. Other people must have thought of this. Have had no luck with Pheasant Forever, earlier post on that. Talked to a biologist at Texas A&M. I think he was late for a tee time. But I bet there are a bunch  out there that have looked at this or even tried angles on calcium. Sure would save me a lot of trouble if I could talk to some people that have some experience with this. Thought you might know some.

As much writing as this is, it is really the readers digest version. Certainly not the only problem I see with pheasant introduction in southeast, early protein is another, a odd type of worm another, and so on.All solvable I think.   
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coldwind
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« Reply #39 on: December 30, 2008, 11:34:23 PM »

Skipper,
Great to hear from you and its great to know that you are still moving along on your project. The whitewing cross pheasants are alert and wary and should adapt well to the wild.

I would not sweat or be concerned about nonglaciated soil calcium or lime, those are old theories that may not apply to central or southeast Texas.
Early protein will not be a problem, because Texas is loaded with insects in the summer time.

The big limiting factor in early pheasant success will be predators, predators (predators X 10), trap as many coons and bobcats you can, and any other vermin you can trap. Areial predators should also be carefully monitored.

We will have to pray for rain in the summer time, timely rain in the summer is very important to young quail and young pheasants. Some years will be wet with good hatches and some years will be dry with poor hatches. Enough bird will carry over through the good wet years through the poor dry years, so you have to monitor or manage the hunting.

The whitewing cross cocks will hurt each other during mating season in pens. I would setup eight seperate pens, six hens to each cock. Keep a number of extra cocks available this spring just in case some are injured.
Keep us posted.
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skipper3905
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« Reply #40 on: December 31, 2008, 11:54:47 PM »

Coldwind,

Good to hear from you.

I went with the whitewing cross because I was told that cross was used in the 1972 Liberty/Chambers county release. As I get more into this I am not sure that is central to the issue but trying to leave no stone unturned. The state of Arizona has two barely sustaining populations that were all pure Afghans. They will likely disappear in the next 10 years. The subspecies of common pheasant may have some role but I don't see it as the central issue.

I do think there is some importance to the soil. May be that glaciation (ie calcium concern) is not the key, but I do think there is some soil component that is the central problem. The old Sherlock Holmes reasoning comes to mind. "When you eliminate what it isn't, you are left with what it is". The common pheasant, in it's native range, does well at our altitude, with our  rainfall, and in our temperature range (and warmer and colder ranges).

Varmits are a problem. I am doing what I can to lessen that. Clearing hawk trees in fields, trapping, etc. Be mindful that Kansas, Oregon, Dakotas, Michigan all have as many or more varmits as us in East Texas and they have pheasant. A problem, I agree, but not the central issue with pheasant introduction.

I am putting in grain. Have standing fields from last year. Planning a lot of Egyptian wheat this year. Still, there have been hundreds of releases in the blackland milo fields east and northeast of Dallas over the years. Not a pheasant to be found. Thousands of releases in American Southeast with the very limited success in four instances I can find. Many releases were in agriculture areas. Important, but not the main problem.

There are some things in rearing that I believe will help. Human contact, ample flight room, ample spacing, ample protein early, are a few things. Still, there have been dozens of releases in Southeast, in good habitat, with  wild captured pheasant and none of them  have succeeded so there is clearly something beside rearing. 

Rainfall timing is important. Still, I imagine south central China's 32 inches of rainfall is no more or less erratic than our 32 inches. We just can't get pheasant to survive. Actually, I believe the erratic rainfall importance lays with bugs for late hatch chicks. T. Boone Pickens as done some work on that with containment areas on his ranch for quail with marked success. He is in a 18 inch a year area so obviously it would effect his birds more.

Rearing, feed, varmints, rainfall timing, and habitat are all important. A problem with any one of them can make pheasant introduction fail but I don't believe all of them done properly will produce a successful pheasant introduction in the American Southeast. I just don't believe any of them are the central issue. That pretty much just leaves some component in the soil in the American Southeast as the most likely suspect for consistent failure of thousands of pheasant releases over many years and I think calcium deficiency is the most likely suspect among soil components. You're right, that theory has been kicked around for a long time, that does not mean it is not true. If true, it is solvable.

By the way, since I posted to you I found a biologist that seems pretty knowledgeable. I am going to get her out to my place in January and kick this around. Also, the early protein I referred to in my previous post related to rearing, not in wild. Got mealy worms growing now. Going to supplement 27% gamebird starter.

As it turns out, I have six brooder pens ready now. That will give me about 200 eggs a week, all that I can handle. Will transfer once cock and six hens to each in late Feb. That will give them a month to settle down before laying season. Should be enough. Will keep extra cocks on standby.

 

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coldwind
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« Reply #41 on: January 03, 2009, 05:54:51 PM »

Skipper,

Sending some background information on other areas in the south and southwest with established wild pheasant populations.
1. Outer Banks of North Carolina has a small population of wild pheasants.
2. Mexicali, Mexico: Mexicali Valley has a healthy number of wild pheasants and they have been there for years. Google Mexicali Valley pheasants.

Getting wild pheasants started takes a great deal of repeated hard work and great effort along with wilder strains of the True Pheasant (Ringneck Type). Look at the article below.

http://www.amarillo.com/stories/120201/whe_legionsofspo.shtml
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skipper3905
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« Reply #42 on: January 04, 2009, 12:04:03 AM »

Coldwind,

Thanks a lot for the information. Really interesting article on the Panhandle releases. I cannot imagine how I have missed the Mexicali thing. As many times as I have browsed pheasant that is the first time I have seen that. Big population. Sure takes the wind out of the glaciation theory. Still, I think there is some soil component that is a problem. Right now, I would give that  40% odds. Of course, I am still learning on all this and don't know what I don't know. I have read some studies that made decent arguments on mites and chiggers as the problem in the American Southeast. Haven't seen a chigger in years so don't put much stock in that. Read a avairy study aimed at a small worm often found in chickens. Writer made a casual reference that he also found them in captive pheasant. Could not find any harm caused by the worms other than they tended to give birds a little gas. I got to thinking a pheasant hen sitting on a nest and farting might be asking for trouble. Raccoon might pick up pheasant pharts.  Lot's of angles to all this. 

Question. A number of the websites on the Mexicali population mentioned the irrigation of the valley. The article on the panhandle release also mentioned irrigation. What do you think the importance of irrigation is? You are probably aware of Boone Pickens work on his ranch for quail. He put in a lot of water containment pits. Dry area and he felt light spring rains kept insect population low so reduced hatch survival. He has a lot of quail now and erratic rainfall has much less impact. Could that same thing be at play with pheasant?

I have been putting in some small stock tanks. Very small but I have a excavator and can go down 18 feet or so till I hit water. Also have a deep well, can probably get water to about 40 acres with sprinklers without killer expense.

You come up with any more areas that have pheasant, outside of normal range, let me know. I have three friends in my area that own over 12,000 acres altogether. Following me pretty close on this, just want to see me have some success before they jump in. I know some other large landowners that I am pretty sure would be interested, just have not brought it up to them. Could be we could get something going similar to panhandle group. 

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CharlieHorse
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« Reply #43 on: January 07, 2009, 01:01:21 AM »

I  don't have anything to add to this thread, just wanted to thank skipper3905, coldwind, and anyone else who has contributed to this thread for their time and effort in sharing their experience and knowledge.   I have enjoyed it alot and I'm sure it has helped many others as well.  Thanks!

       
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coldwind
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« Reply #44 on: January 09, 2009, 07:53:45 PM »

Skipper,

Both pheasant and quail, in the stressful heat of mid summer, will greatly benefit from water containment pits and irrigation.
Irrigation is just a backup water system when the natural spring and summer rain fail to come on time. Hopefully, we will have a wet spring and summer like we did in 2007.

Keep us posted.
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