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Recent snowfalls have resulted in a deep blanket of crusty snow that is significantly limiting pheasants’ access to waste grain throughout much of their range in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Providing feed for pheasants during such conditions can increase their chances of survival.

Pheasants can survive as long as two weeks without food, but they become more vulnerable to predators and adverse weather conditions when they are forced to spend time and energy in the open looking for food.

The DNR offers the following tips for feeding pheasants:

  • Do not place feeders near a road. Attracting pheasants (and deer) to roadsides can be dangerous to motorists as well as wildlife.
  • Feeders should be placed within 150 yards of good winter cover. This allows the birds to feed and then return quickly to cover. The most important reason for feeding pheasants is to keep them in areas of good winter cover, such as large cattail marshes, shrub swamps, or shelterbelts with at least four rows of evergreens where they stand a much greater chance of surviving winter.
  • Place food where birds have been seen feeding in an open, windswept area near thick cover. A high spot with a southern exposure is best.
  • Simple feeder cribs can be constructed of hardware cloth that is 3 to 4 feet wide (1/2″ mesh) and is double-wrapped and hog-ringed together to form a cylinder. Wire the feeder to a steel post or another object to keep it erect. Designs for constructing barrel feeders can be found on the DNR Web site.
  • Once feeding is begun, don’t stop until there are large, snow-free areas in fields. Pheasants become dependent on feeders. One of the biggest mistakes is to stop feeding before waste grain becomes available.

Now is also a good time to work with local clubs or wildlife managers to assess local habitat needs and plan improvements for next year, such as food plots near winter cover. For additional information on pheasant feeding, contact a local DNR wildlife office.

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