posted on February 11, 2014 07:57
It has been a tough year for the pheasant hunters this year. Reports in South Dakota that the numbers of wild pheasants were down by 64% has put further pressure on the sport in tough times.
There are numerous reasons for this decline, but most experts blame the severe weather and the change in habitat. Farmers feel financial pressure to turn previously untouched, wild fields, into corn fields with the rising price of corn. This destroys some of the cover that pheasants rely upon and thus numbers have fallen from 12 million to an estimated 3 million.
However the sport has a solution: commercially licensed shooting preserves.
The numbers of commercially licensed shooting preserves has fluctuated over the recent years. In 2001 there were 41 and at its height in 2006 there were 82. Currently the number stands at 62. Some of these shooting preserves offer a number of services that rival that of other private clubs; including a bars and restaurants.
But besides the facilities that are on offer, the commercial shooting preserves offer two critical advantages. The first is the certainty that birds are around the area where the hunter is. The second is as a guarantee that wild birds are continuously being released into the wild.
Under legislation, commercially licensed shooting preserves are required to release at least 1000 birds a year, whereas private shooting preserves cannot release more than 300. Therefore, hunters supporting commercial licensed shooting preserves are also supporting the populations of pheasants.
Some of the commercial preserves buy adult birds for release. Others, like Gold Meadows, acquire 1 day old chicks and raise 15,000 birds annually.
Commercial shooting preserves are a fantastic opportunity for training. Both young hunters and young dogs can use the land, with the guarantee of birds, to hone their skills. Older hunting dogs can also use the land to remain experienced and keep physical standards high.
This triangle of support is very important. Without hunters, the commercial facilities cannot operate and without the facilities, fewer birds would surely be released each year – which would certainly affect hunter numbers.
Do you use a Commercial Shooting Preserve?