Tag Archives: pheasant

General Pheasant Hunting Opener Nears

The second weekend of November brings a popular tradition for many families in California – the opening of pheasant season. Although the overall wild pheasant population has been decreasing in recent years and the number of shoot days have been reduced on some wildlife areas, opportunities are still available on state-managed lands.

The 2015 general pheasant season will open Saturday, Nov. 14 and extend through Sunday, Dec. 27. For 2015, the daily bag limit is two males per day for the first two days of the season, and three males per day thereafter. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit.

Native to Asia, the ring-necked pheasant was introduced to California as a game bird species in the late 1800s. Though they flourished in California for decades, numbers have been dropping since the most recent high in the late 1990’s. Total pheasant harvest on public areas in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys declined from a high of 4,828 roosters in 1998 to 1,120 last year.

“Wild pheasant populations have declined in the Central Valley due to a number of factors – changing agricultural practices and loss of upland habitats combined with increased use of insecticides and predation,” said Scott Gardner, Upland Game Bird Coordinator for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). “There are still enough pheasants to sustain a rooster-only hunting season, but the numbers look nothing like they used to.”

In response to the continued decline, CDFW is entering the third year of working with Pheasants Forever and the United States Geological Survey to implement pheasant population assessments and identify factors limiting their populations to develop potential management actions. Initial findings were presented at a pheasant workshop earlier this year and information on the workshop and ongoing research can be found on CDFW’s website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/birds/pheasant.

In 2010, CDFW reduced the number of days that certain wildlife areas will be open for pheasant hunting due to a decline in the number of hunters targeting pheasant and the cost to operate check stations during the first week of the season. For the upcoming season, hunters should be aware of the following restrictions on wildlife areas:

  • Type A wildlife areas in the Sacramento Valley (Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, and Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area (Little Dry Creek, Llano Seco and Howard Slough Units) and Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays, and only the first Monday (Nov. 16) during the pheasant season. Grizzly Island Wildlife Area will also be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays only during the pheasant season.
  • Type A wildlife areas in the San Joaquin Valley (Los Banos Wildlife Area, Mendota Wildlife Area, North Grasslands Wildlife Area, Volta Wildlife Area and San Luis National Wildlife Refuge) will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays only during the pheasant season. Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge, Freitas Unit will be open for pheasant hunting on the first Saturday, Sunday and Monday of the pheasant season (Nov. 14-16). The Kesterson blind area will be open for pheasant hunting on the first Monday of the pheasant season (Nov. 16).
  • In the event some units experience closures for waterfowl hunting as a result of the drought, the goal will be to open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during the general pheasant season. Permits for entry will be issued at the check station through a morning lottery. Specific information will be available from affected wildlife area offices. Additional entry will be available through first-come, first-serve lists at the check station.
  • The Wister Unit of Imperial Wildlife Area in Imperial County and San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Riverside County will continue to be closed to pheasant hunting this year.
  • Type C wildlife areas will remain open as normal.

Upland game hunters are reminded that as of July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition is required when hunting on all CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page .

All hunters must carry a current California hunting license in their possession. Adult hunters (18 or older) must also have an upland game bird validation. The full upland game bird hunting regulations and a summary as well as the lands regulations for 2015-2016 can be found on CDFW’s website.

The modifications of the shoot days on Type A wildlife areas are pursuant to the California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 550(i)(1).

For more information on specific hunting opportunities, hunters should contact the CDFW office in their region and check the CDFW website.

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Media Contacts:
Scott Gardner, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 445-5545
Brad Burkholder, CDFW Lands Program, (916) 445-1829
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

October Game Bird Apprentice, Women’s Hunt Application Deadline is Sept. 30

Boy and dog, pheasant huntingThe California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering a number of special hunt opportunities for young hunters, women, families and mobility-impaired hunters this fall and winter. All hunt opportunities are now listed on CDFW’s website. Applications for all October hunts are due by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 30.

October hunt opportunities for juniors (under the age of 18 as of July 1, 2015) and women include the following:

  • Del Norte County: Two junior pheasant hunts will be held on Saturday, Oct. 24 at the Lake Earl Wildlife Area. The morning and afternoon hunts can accommodate 16 hunters each.
  • Lassen County: Two junior pheasant hunts will be held on the weekend of Oct. 17-18 at the Honey Lake Wildlife Area, Fleming Unit (Saturday) and Dakin Unit (Sunday). Each day’s hunt will accommodate 25 hunters. An additional women’s hunt will be held on Saturday morning, Oct. 17 at the Fleming Unit. This hunt can accommodate 30 hunters.
  • San Luis Obispo County: A junior wild quail hunt will be held on Saturday, Oct. 24 at the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve. The hunt can accommodate 10 hunters and maximum hunting party size is two. This is considered an advanced hunt and is recommended for hunters with previous practical experience in the field. Hunting dogs will be provided.
  • Kern County: Two wild quail and chukar hunts will be held the weekend of Oct. 17-18 at the Canebrake Ecological Reserve. The Saturday opportunity is for juniors only, while the Sunday opportunity is a general hunt. Each can accommodate 10 hunters.
  • San Diego County: A wild quail hunt will be held on Saturday, Oct. 17 at the Oakgrove sub-unit of the San Felipe Valley Wildlife Area. The hunt will accommodate 24 hunters total, and applications may include up to four hunters. Dogs are allowed but will not be provided.

Please note that all of these opportunities will be held on state wildlife areas or ecological reserves. As of July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition is required when hunting upland game birds on these properties. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

CDFW’s Upland Game Bird Special Hunts are intended for beginning hunters or those with limited experience. All hunts include gun safety review, easy-to-hunt topography, a high ratio of volunteers to hunters, experienced dog handlers and clay shooting for practice.

Hunters can find more information and apply for any of these hunts online at www.dfg.ca.gov/hunting. There is no charge to apply. Please note that additional hunts in November, December and January (including those for families and mobility-impaired hunters), are listed on the website and are also open for registration. Only the applications for the October hunts listed above are due on Sept. 30.

New hunters can use their Hunter Education Certificate number for priority registration for apprentice hunts. Applicants with priority will be automatically placed in a hunt before the random drawing takes place.

Hunters must carry a valid California hunting license. Adult hunters (18 or older) must also have an upland game bird validation. Proper clothing and safety gear, including blaze orange, is required for department-sponsored hunts.

The full upland game bird hunting regulations and a summary for 2015-2016 can be found on CDFW’s website.

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Media Contacts:
Karen Fothergill, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 716-1461

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW and Partners Investigate Decline in Pheasant Population

pheasantThe California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently hosted a pheasant ecology workshop to examine possible causes of a decline of the state’s pheasant population over the last 25 years.

Held in cooperation with Pheasants Forever, the workshop convened more than 45 state and federal scientists, public and private land managers, and representatives from Ducks Unlimited and the California Waterfowl Association.

Participants reviewed research from scientists at the US Geological Survey and heard from pheasant experts from across the nation. Data collected showed that contributing factors to the decline include changes in agricultural practices, growth of forested habitats in historic wetland and grassland environments, climate change and predation from increasing raven populations.

“The combination of modern analysis tools and on-the-ground land management techniques helped us chart a map forward, which is especially important during the drought,” said CDFW Upland Game Program Scientist Matt Meshriy. “We look forward to collaborating with Pheasants Forever and other conservation partners interested in this species.”

The workshop, held on April 30 and May 1, included presentations by Dr. Les Flake of South Dakota State University and Senior Research Biologist Dave Musil of Idaho Fish and Game. CDFW managers from six state wildlife areas and federal partners from the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complexes also presented reports on site-specific conditions that described the breadth of habitat challenges facing pheasants and other upland nesting bird species throughout the state.

Pheasants were introduced in California in the 1890s and adapted well in the agricultural regions of the state. By the mid-1960s, about 250,000 hunters were spending about 800,000 days afield in pursuit of this game bird. Since the mid-1990s, populations have been steadily declining. In 2010, only about 30,000 pheasant hunters spent about 100,000 days afield.

Pheasants Forever is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 140,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent; the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure. Since its creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $577 million on 475,000 habitat projects benefiting 10 million acres nationwide.

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Media Contacts:
Scott Gardner, Wildlife Branch, Upland Game Program, (916) 801-6257

Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

Pheasant Hunting on Mondays during the 2012 Season

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) will offer several Monday pheasant hunting opportunities at northern California Type A wildlife areas in 2012.

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The pheasant season opens on the second Saturday of November (Nov. 10) and the length of the season will remain the same: 44 consecutive days for the general season and 60 consecutive days for the archery season. For the 2012 hunting season, wildlife areas are open for pheasant hunting as follows:

Type A wildlife areas in the Sacramento Valley (Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area and Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area) will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, and only the first Monday (Nov. 12) of the pheasant season.  Grizzly Island Wildlife Area will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, and only the second Monday (Nov. 19) of the pheasant season.

Type A wildlife areas in the San Joaquin Valley (Los Banos Wildlife Area, Mendota Wildlife Area, North Grasslands Wildlife Area and San Luis National Wildlife Refuge) will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays only during the pheasant season.  Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge will be open for pheasant hunting on the first Monday of the pheasant season (Nov. 12).

The Wister Unit of Imperial Wildlife Area in Imperial County and San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Riverside County will be closed to pheasant hunting this year.

Type C wildlife areas will remain open as normal.

DFG reduced the number of days that certain wildlife areas were open for pheasant hunting in recent years due to a decline the number of hunters targeting pheasant and the cost to operate check stations during the first week of the season.  Some of those reductions will remain in place for 2012, but pheasant hunting will be offered in some locations on the first or second Monday of the season.

The modifications of the shoot days on Type A wildlife areas are pursuant to subsections 550(b)(1) and 550(b)(2) of Title 14, California Code of Regulations.

For more information on specific hunting opportunities, hunters should contact their regional DFG office.

Media Contacts:
Kari Lewis, DFG Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3789
Andrew Hughan, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8944

Special Pheasant Hunting Opportunities Offered In North Central Region

Media Contacts:
North Central Region Hunter Info Line, (916) 358-2839
Sara Holm, DFG Wildlife Branch, (530) 346-6305
Dana Michaels, DFG Communications, (916) 322-2420 

Hunters seeking opportunities during the upcoming pheasant season can visit the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Upland Game Bird Stamp Program’s webpage to apply online. It lists numerous hunts statewide, including opportunities in DFG’s North Central Region, which includes Plumas, Sierra, Butte, Glenn, Lake, Colusa, Yolo, Sutter, Yuba, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Sacramento, Amador, Alpine, Calaveras and San Joaquin counties.

DFG’s North Central Region will offer two pheasant apprentice youth hunts at Highland Springs and Headwater’s Honker Preserve, one wild bird apprentice youth and one wild bird family pheasant hunt at Little Dry Creek (Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area), and eight apprentice women, youth or mobility impaired pheasant hunts at Nelson Slough in the Feather River Wildlife Area. Applications and information are available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/uplandgame/gamebird.

Hunters must create an account using a valid e-mail address and submit an application with their choice of hunts listed in order of preference. Hunters may apply only once for each hunt, either as an applicant or as a guest. Submitting multiple applications will result in disqualification.

To apply online you will need a valid e-mail address, hunter’s name, address and phone number, 2011-2012 hunting license GO ID and, if applicable, information about mobility impairment and special accommodations needed.

Hunters will be selected by a computerized drawing for only one hunt, and only successful applicants will be notified.

Special hunts are provided in cooperation with many volunteer organizations. The purchase of an Upland Game Bird Stamp supports these special hunts and other programs that provide additional Upland Game Bird hunting opportunities. All upland game bird hunters, except those with Junior hunting licenses, must purchase an Upland Game Bird Stamp.