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PHEASANT HAVEN: Native grasses in the Thumb bring back Pheasants

October 27, 2005


CASS CITY -- You still can find good pheasant hunting in Michigan, as Tom Lounsbury has proved at his fourth-generation farm in the Thumb. But you have to work at it.

Three hunters stood admiring a bird one of them had shot last week when Maggie, a Lab-Brittany mix, nosed a rooster pheasant out of the edge of a field of switchgrass.

"Well, none of us was expecting that one," Lounsbury said.

Cackling in derision, the pheasant flew off unscathed and dropped into a field planted with big and little bluestem prairie grasses on the other side of a hedgerow. It was the sixth rooster Maggie and Hummer, Lounsbury's French Brittany, had flushed in 90 minutes, along with four hens.

Walking the fields of his 110 acres on a glorious opening day of the pheasant season with longtime hunting companions Bob Walker of Kingston and Stu Roller of Caro, Lounsbury talked about some of the things he has done to make his farm a haven for pheasants.

In the process, he has created excellent habitat for other game animals. The hunters pushed two whitetail bucks out of their cover and found dozens of deer beds in the prairie grass.

"The key has been re-establishing the native grasses," Lounsbury said. "They don't come back right away. The stuff has been in for two years, and it's really getting established. I figure that by next year it will be great winter cover.

"I also put in wildflowers, and they were great. Not only do they make for good pheasant, they give you a beautiful display that lasts for months."

John Barla of Romeo and Brian Mioduszewski of Hartland hunted public land in Tuscola County on the opening morning and flushed five hens and a rooster.

"They were pretty spooky," Barla said. "They were going up way ahead of us. All of the birds we saw came out of the thinner grass next to the switchgrass."

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