By Tom Carpenter
Timely spring rains should have helped California’s pheasant hatch. Hunters willing to scout and work will find birds.
WEATHER AND CONDITIONS
“After the second wettest winter on record for California in 2016-17, the winter of 2017-18 saw below average rainfall in the state, a consistent trend in recent years,” says Matt Meshriy, Matt Meshriy, Environmental Scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Upland Game Program. “Spring rainfall was timely however, and the green-up lasted into the breeding season. That should have helped the hens.”
HATCH AND BROODS
“News from the field is that pheasant population levels remain lower in California than hunters would like,” says Meshriy, “a result of changing land-use practices, agricultural intensification and available habitat.” But not all the news is tough.
HABITAT AND PROGRAMS
“While Pheasant habitat has been declining in the agricultural landscapes of the state, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has been developing upland habitat on state owned Wildlife Areas with a focus on water infrastructure for managing moist-soils in forb-rich pheasant brooding areas and perennial grass plantings for escape and nesting cover in managed upland units,” says Meshriy. “Through the Upland Game Bird Stamp Account, CDFW has conducted significant research into the factors affecting pheasant declines in California and is currently working to improve and refine upland management goals to leverage funding for the benefit of multiple upland species.”
There are birds to be had in California.
“Top locations for pheasant hunting in California include Siskiyou County in the far North, and the Sacramento Valley in North Central California,” reports Meshriy. “Colusa County was second to Siskiyou in harvest during 2017. On the edge of the San Francisco Bay Delta, the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in Yolo County has seen a consistent pheasant harvest over the past 10 years.”
“Check for additional restrictions on pheasant hunt days for Type A and B Wildlife Areas,” says Meshriy.
He adds, “And visit: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/ApprenticeHunts/Default.aspx
to view additional opportunities for special “apprentice hunt” opportunities for pheasant, available to new hunters, youth hunters, women hunters, mobility-impaired hunters and other individuals who have limited experience or opportunity to hunt on their own.”