Wisconsin pheasants give a strong showing. It should be a good hunting season, especially in the northwest pheasant range.
By Tom Carpenter
“We had an early spring, with an 82.4% increase in pheasant production in Wisconsin’s primary pheasant range,” reports Jaqi Christopher, Wildlife Biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource. “Summer had above average rainfall in portions of the state, but it was not accompanied by cold weather. With the increase in production and the lack of cold temperatures, brood survival is expected to be higher than in 2016.”
That’s good news for hunters of Wisconsin’s wild pheasants.
“Pheasants are included in our annual 10-Week Brood Survey,” says Christopher. “From June to August, field staff record upland game bird broods seen while conducting normal field operations. Preliminary data shows that the number of observed pheasant broods is up 8.8%,” with the related production increase mentioned.
“But we saw a decrease in the secondary (-52.3 percent) pheasant range from the 2016 levels,” adds Mark Witecha, DNR upland game ecologist. “Pheasant brood size was unchanged, with an average of 4.7 young per brood in both 2016 and 2017.”
“To successfully hunt pheasants in Wisconsin,” Christopher advises, “hunters should look for areas with a variety of cover types including agriculture, grassland, wetland and shrubland. Agriculture areas with at least 10-15% grassland and winter cover such as wetlands or shrubland are an ideal habitat for pheasants.”
Wisconsin Hunting Notes
The following map display’s Wisconsin’s primary wild pheasant range. That western chunk may be best of all -- Polk, St. Croix and Dunn Counties -- where there’s an excellent mix of pasture land, retired cropland, uplands, bottomlands and active farming. But the suburbanized Southeast (think Jefferson and Walworth Counties) can be good. Eastern Wisconsin, especially in wetland-associated areas, can hold decent populations of birds too. Th Southwest has pockets of birds where CRP land exists.
For hunters interested in put-and-take, as many as 90 public hunting areas will be stocked with approximately 75,000 pheasants this year for hunting opportunities throughout the state.
Wisconsin Spring Pheasant Survey 2017
Wisconsin Rural Mail Carrier Survey 2017
Tom Carpenter is Digital Content Manager for Pheasants Forever.