The 2013-2014 season has come to a close and it happens on a day that brings a white-out blizzard to South Dakota. As I am writing this I can't see more than 30 feet out the window. What a winter this has been! Has to be the coldest on record. Gladly it didn't keep our winter punch card hunters from getting out. The winter season was very successful. The groups that showed up in Jan. and Feb. had wonderful hunts. The March hunts proved a little less successful but everyone still filled their cards. Overall it was a great year. Total hunter and harvest numbers will likely be down a bit from last couple years but with the dismal overall bird population this year, we are pleased with our turn out. It is not true that lack of wild birds helps preserve hunting. When the bird forecast calls for 75% fewer birds, hunters just don't show up regardless of the type of hunting. Pheasant hunting is a huge economic engine for this state and we need those out-of-state hunters in the fields next fall. Hopefully we can get a break this spring and have a good hatch. I know we wintered over 5000 wild hens so we just need some good nesting conditions.
We have already started with our hatching operations for next years birds. The farm has been a flurry of new life as 600 new chicks just hatched along with two litters of puppies! Plenty of things to do. We are getting many calls for people looking for hens to buy and release for propagation. That is great to see. Fifteen years ago people wouldn't even think about trying to rebuild the population. Times have changed and many have seen the results of good habitat and releasing birds that preserves have done. Hopefully more will be done to get the numbers up to where they were just a few years ago.
See you in the field soon,