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gorrilla

Over reacting to the snow.

42 posts in this topic

Sometimes I think people wait until it snows to worry about theirs birds. If we are so concerned about pheasants or turkeys to throw corn all over the place, then I think we are worring too late over something we have no control over.

The weather.

If you want to help birds, help plant food plots and shelter belts, or at the very least donate to habitat improvement projects. These are the long term fixes and benefit wildlife much longer than a stupid bag of corn will.

Personally I think our pheasants and turkeys that lived through the localized ice storms are in relatively good shape since they should have plenty of fat reserves and just a few weeks until spring weather.

I like the snow myself since I'm a big duck nut as well.

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Agree. The best way to protect pheasants is to begin planning for next winter with better winter habitat, food plots, etc... Join your local PF and drive them in that direction.

Buying corn ... more demand for corn will just further cut the CRP ... Albiet this demand is completely insignificant relative to ethanol demand.

Loss of CRP enrollment is now the #1 danger to Minnesota pheasants.

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Planting food plots are great! But when the snow is up to the tassels it wont help nothing till the snow melts! Also by now in my area the dear have them all cleaned up! I will still dump corn when it becomes necessary. Nature is best left alone when possible. some times intervention is needed!

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If you have shelter belts and LARGER CORN PLOTS it would help. If deer or other critters have cleaned out the plot it was too small. Two rows of corn don't usually cut it. Besides, people loose focus that pheasant can eat and survive off food other than corn and beans... And if you have a nice strip of cedars protecting it from drifting snow it shouldn't be up to the tassles all winter long. There is a thing called fat reserves which will get them through lean times. What South Dakota has (among other things) over MN in the Pheasant Department is tons of grass. There pheasants don't lead the nation year after year due to guys tossing corn on the ground. Its because of all the awesome nesting cover which allows the surviving hens to pull off great hatches and much more quickly recover from ice storms and poor winters(which this one isn't IMO). Our first real cold isn't until mid to late February and our only significant snowfall (in central and western MN) wasn't until March? If thats all the worse it gets, I think they'll be OK...

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I agrree with the shelterbelts and other habitat projects. But I wouldnt stop people from feeding birds as our chapter and many others do it all winter. The birds should of had a pretty easy winter feeding until these last two storms when all the food and many feeders were totally covered. Food should be thrown out and not on the road. When you dont have the cover that other states do then you do need to feed them. As I stated above, many PF chapters feed corn to the birds and it does work and help. When the snow cover is this deep there is nothing left uncovered.

I would also venture to say that many birds died through this last sleet,snow storms and the ones left will be scrambling for something not covered with snow to eat. If we had huge shelterbelts and heavy winter cover all over that would be great but we dont. Many chapters are trying but the funds are lacking.

I personally have helped with these habitat projects and they are good and also very spendy. One can only do so much with so few dollars.

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I honestly don't think that the pheasants are hurting as bad as all of you think. One ice storm can take its toll but it is usally the second ice storm that kills off most of the birds!! You have really only had one ice storm in western MN with a lot of snow to boot, but you must realize that it is late into the season and therefore the sun is much more powerful and can melt off snow for the birds much faster than it would in December or January. If we would have had this earlier on then there would be reason to worry for the long winter ahead! As of right now you should be ok as long as they have access to some food which they do! Feeding them does help out alot though and should be done if possible.

I do have to agree that having more habitat would help greatly with the pheasant population! Have you ever noticed the difference in habitat between South Dakota and Minnesota? Thats why there is such a difference in populations! The three main factors to having a good population of pheasants are shelter cover (trees, shrubs, brush, willows), nesting cover (dense leafy stemmed grasses) and food (milo, sorgum, corn, ragweed, or foxtail). Any of these things will get a good population of pheasants through a good old fashioned upper midwest winter! So by donating money to PF or DU, or making you own property better suited for the good of the pheasants you could help out the situation and not have to worry so much when Mother Nature does what it does best!

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Anyone can design the perfect world on paper for pheasants. But the reality is here in sw min we don't and may never have the "sd habitat" Why do you want too stress the birds and see if they can make it!Pheasants do an unbelievable job of finding food on there own. But 2 ft of snow all over with huge drifts in every sheltered area is putting a lot of stress on the birds right now!

The other thing too keep in mind is the flock is at an all time high right now. A few birds may be able too find food. But a flock of a hundred will need a lot more!

For me I will help them out when needed!The old proverb " an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is quite applicable here in my opinion.

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What I get a kick out of is that many of those putting out feeders often make the mistake of placing them where we humans can have easy access such as out in an open area.

I'll never forget when I first moved onto my farm home we had plenty of cottontails running around. Well, I happened to find an old chicken feeder in one of the out buildings and thought I'd be nice to the little buggers and put out some alfalfa pellets for them during the first winter. That worked out pretty nice...for a while. I had placed the feeder out in the open on the front lawn. I should have known better but I had a brain dump. Anyway, one day my wife calls me at work almost crying. Apparently she was enjoying watching the "bunnies" out on the yard when all of a sudden a huge Great Horned with about a 5' wingspan appeared on the scene. Without even slowing down it picked out one of the rabbits and proceded to enjoy lunch right where my wife could witness. I had created a feeder not only for the rabbits but also for the birds of prey.

If we are going to put out feeders for pheasants they need to be located in places less accessible to predators.

Bob

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Bob, Good call, and funny story!! LOL grin.gif

I agree that sw minnesota will probably never see south Dakota pheasant habitit, but there is a lot of reason for that. With the demand for ethanol going up and the growing population in the world with a higher demand for grain the farmers need as much land to farm as possible for their livelyhoods! And the soil and land layout in western and southern minnesota is prime for raising crops! I guess if I was a farmer I would have to dig up every little square foot of farmable ground that I could to. In South Dakota its a bit of a different story. A lot for livestock oriented farming, and many more wetlands and GPA's. Its also not as flat as MN so draws and drainages that can't be farmed provide excellent habitat!

This is a good thread, I want to hear some more comments or concerns! Its great to hear some ideas and thoughts on this topic!

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I find it very frustrating that people are trying to solve the pheasant problems with a little band-aid(feeding).

I'm not against winter feeding, I'm just more in favor of better management practices like shelter belts, food plots, and nesting cover...

When I worked on building habitat for PF in McLeod County I discovered how many programs there are available for improving your land through PF, the county, the state, and even the feds. If you own land and aren't already working on providing some habitat for the critters, then IMO you have no right to complain on the lack of them. If you have 10 times more tiles than shelterbelts/grasslands then you better be content flushing and shooting corncobs.

If you don't own land, I challenge you to join PF or donate time, $, or elbow grease to help develop some wildlife habitat.

Figure out how many birds $500 worth of feeder corn saves vs. $500 worth of shelterbelt trees...

I think its very shortsighted biologically to "waste your money" on the short fix of a pickup load of corn and not a stand of trees that last for 40+ years...

If your a billionare and can do both, than go for it, and thank you in advance. But if you are like me and your wife is constantly yelling at you because you own 15 hunting jackets and zero "nice" jackets that isn't possible.

I think people should exert ten times the energy griping to the legislators about probable CRP cuts on the next Farm Bill and try to fix the BIG picture before its too late and we don't have any birds to feed. Period.

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Hey guys, I was stuck out at my place during the blizzard last week and got some fotage of where the birds were hanging out during the storm. Posted it under the video sharing forum listed under march '07 South Dakota Blizzard. The food plots and shelterbelts look dessimated but that is where the birds were.

Video Forum Link

Pheasant Populations = Habitat

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gorilla,

I never thought I would say this...... I agree with you.

I havent agreed with your style of posts in a lot of cases, but thats just a personal opinion of mine.

NOW, with the post you made above, I couldnt agree any more.

Landowners(not saying all...) have little clue as to what is available to them in many cases. The programs out there are extensive. I see way too often, the cries for help to preserve and restore.... People, there are amazing programs out there. I am not saying more would not be better, but take advantage of what we do have!

Before I get too deep in this, I will add that getting a sense of urgency, or expecting quick action out of government is tough. You gotta bite your tongue and just work with them.

Now a list of programs or avenues available that we have done on our land or are in progress:

1. Wetland Easement Program - One time payment for appraised values of wetlands on your property. You retain all rights and ownership of that acreage, but you get paid to retire that acreage so that its never drained or filled.

2. Timber Stand Improvement program - get paid to remove exotic species of trees and brush on your property.

3. CRP - well that one many know about. But its worth looking into. Lots of opportunity.

4. Conservation Land Trust - enroll your acreage into this trust so that its preserved from development. You retain all land ownership. But you get credits on your annual income tax statements for 5 years based on the appraised value of that land. Hard to describe. Lets just say, its worth looking at if you are serious about preservation of wild areas.

5. Do you have drained wetlands? Did you know the USFWS will send out heavy equipment and crush tiles, rebuild land formations that were altered to drain water, etc? At no cost to you????????

6. Have you contacted your local wildlife conservation groups? As an example, the NWTF had funds available in our area and they purchased trees/brush that we planted on our property. No money out of our pockets. Zero. Just some sweat equity on our part to get them planted.

This is what we have done on our property. Lots of help financially, and the property is taking shape like you can't imagine.

All I can say is go to your local DNR office and quiz them on the above stuff, or just ask whats available. Then head off to the FSA/NRCS office and hit them up. Then go check with your local chapters of DU, NWTF, PF, MDHA, etc, etc.

I agree, go make the habitat better, and the requirements for subsidized wildlife feeding/support won't be needed.

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While you are at the DNR ask them why they are cutting down all the trees on public land and fish and wildlife land!

Why should a farmer do the above when the DNR is doing the opposite! confused.gif

I'm In favor of all the shelter-belts you can grow. BUT when the DNR's policy in our area is Prairie Habitat With no trees they are kinda sending the wrong message IMO!!

There reasoning that the trees provide roosting spots for winged predators which is true! I can agree with them on one lone tree in the middle of a wma but disagree when they take out whole groves, which they have done!!

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trytofish, are they cutting the trees on a WMA (Wildlife Management Area) or a WPA (Waterfowl Production Area)? The WMA's are managed by the DNR, the WPA's by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Fish and Wildlife service has ducks on their brain, to heck with the rest of the wildlife. Ironcally, when the bad weather hits like right now, where do you see the pheasants - by brush and trees!!! I agree with you, cut down the single trees, but leave the tree groves for pheasant and deer cover. They're making barren wastelands out of some of our public hunting areas!!! Do a search on 'Fish and Wildlife Service', find a phone number and talk to them, express your concern.

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Yesterday on the way home from work I must have saw over 50 pheasants - lots of them along the road, some in fields, some groups of 10-15, some singles, all looking for something to eat. If it wasn't for the fact that they're predicting 40's for next week, I'd be back out there today with some corn trying to feed them. Yes, I've read the posts here about avian predators, but these pheasants are going to be out in the open looking for food, if I can dump a little corn out in a windswept spot that the birds are already hanging out at, and get them back into cover sooner, and help a few survive until the weather eases up, its better than doing nothing.

Yes I've also read the rants about shelterbelts and corn food plots, thats the optimal longterm solution, but its not always possible. Been there, done that on the corn food plots, they require lots of dollars to establish properly, in order for it to grow it needs fertilizer, it also needs to be sprayed or the weeds will out compete the corn. I've tried just planting some corn without fertilizer and weed control and it grows to about crotch high - worthless. One time I had a neighbor farmer plant a one acre plot and it cost me over $400 by the time all the cost were added up. And most farmers don't want to mess with those small plots unless its right next door, its hassle for them to make the special trip for a small plot.

I also tried to set it up on a rental basis where they could farm my land the land on shares, take their 2/3 of the crop and leave my 1/3 as a food plot. That was ok except for the one guy left my share on the worst land with the poorest corn stand, by the woods where the deer had it eaten by Jan 15, the second guy did a better job but hated the extra work in the spring of picking the leftover corn and chopping and then tilling, he liked to have that done in the fall.

Morale of the story - don't (Contact Us Please) about establishing food plots until you've tried to do it yourself. Its not easy or cheap.

That $300-$400 you spend on estblishing a food plot will buy a lot of corn for properly placed feeders too.

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Driving home I saw at least a gabillion phesants in fields getting their grub on. Guys, the phesant population will be hurt by all of this snow, but that's nature doing it's thing. Sure, some of the phesants chowing down in the open are going to become hawk poop. Once again, mother nature decides what lives and what dies. It's a natural cycle, it happens, it's supposed to.

Over reacting to the snow? I think maybe a little. Guys that throw corn out in the open are feeding more than just phesants and I'm thinking it's not such a bad thing. They're feeding deer, phesants, owls, mice, yotes, etc but if they are concerned aboot starving phesants at least they're giving them a little something.

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The FSA/NRCS has the WHIP(Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program), and within that there is a funding available for plant food plots. Check with your local FSA/NRCS office to see whats available in your specific area.

I understand that people have a concern about the costs associated with improving habitat or planting plots.

There is help available in a lot of cases, so I strongly urge people to get on the phone and start calling all your local government offices. Amazing whats out there once you get digging. We started with one phone call, and its blossomed into incredible help and benefits.

Bottom line, our property would not have a small portion of the improvements done, if I had not made some calls. Thats a fact.

The other fact is that not all programs are suited for all people. But pick and choose which ones fit your property management goals. The choices are there. Use them while they are available. Tomorrow they could be gone.

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Not all shelterbelts and tree rows are created equal. Many that are dead or dying provide more vantage points for avian predators than cover ... death row

Habitat is number one. CRP.

Close proximetry to food is another.

Pheasants die during winter, but are very prolific if spring conditions are good.

Animal predation is much higher today. In the soil bank era - trapping was much more common and hawks and owls were persecuted. Not saying to go back that way - just noting then and now.

Feeders probably do more to boost human morale than increasing local bird populations. Birds this year have plenty of reserves to get through this blip of a winter.

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I'm not against helping out with the food supply but why place it out in the open where they become exposed to more danger? Would it not be just as effective to place it nearer to cover or even inside the cover so they don't have to expose themselves to predators any more than necessary. They are out there on the wind-swept areas not because they want to be but because they have no other choice. If you want to help, help but give them another choice other than being out in the middle of an 80 acre feild with no cover nearby. They can deal with coyotes and other ground dwelling predators far better than those from overhead.

One last thought. When putting out feed, it is better to spread it a little thin than to just make a pile where the birds will gather in a group. A tight group is a much bigger target and much easier to spot than a loose group.

Bob

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I understand Mark that there is money available to help fund food plots, my post was for the ranters "plant a corn food plot", "plant a bigger plot", to let them know its not that easy to do on a consistant basis unless you know a farmer on a close basis. Its easy to post a rant but talk is cheap, I haven't noticed any of the ranters posting back to say that THEY have done food plots.

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I'm not sure whether you're better off putting feeders in the open or in cover, in cover you're also making it easier for foxes/coyotes to ambush them. As far as hawks and owls go, I still wonder how serious a problem they are. Last night I counted 48 pheasants on the way home, in the fields and along the roads and I didn't see any hawks sitting around. As far as owls go, normally the pheasants are in cover by the time it gets dark. What I do with my feeders nowadays is to put them about 10 yards from cover, the pheasants can go back and forth.

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Blackjack,

I agree with your last two post 100%. I live in the country and I don't think the owl and the hawk problem is as big as it's being made out to be.I believe that they are a part of the predator problem, but only one piece. The biggest problems are the coon, skunks, possum and feral cats.....ask Delta waterfowl. Also down here in S. Mn the farmers will mow every piece of road ditch possible for hay. They don't wait until August. In our PF Chapter we preach food plot until were blue in the face, but 99.9% of the farmer in our county are not going to do them. It's all about $. Until the government changes their programs to make it more of an incentive to impliment Cons. programs rather than rowed crops with all sorts of sub. it's always going to be a struggle. With that being said we can't give up the fight though. BTW those that are talking the owl, hawk problem reside further up north. Maybe it is a bigger problem up there than down here? That I don't know? The good thing is the weather is getting better the next couple of weeks which will help food wise. I also think our snowfall down here is a little heavier that what's been up north all winter. I just hope we don't get the freezing rain now in March.....that's the bigger killer.

Nesting cover,Food plots and Woodycover are three most important pieces to growing pheasants.......Think Habitat!

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It has been my understanding that owls, hawks, and other avian predators take far more pheasants than foxes, coyotes, and the like. Especially adult birds. Eggs and chicks may be a different situation but there aren't many of these during this time of year. That is why I would think adding feed in or near cover is better than placing it out in the open with no cover.

It has also been my understanding that pheasants are notorious for not seeing overhead threats as well as same level threats and this is why they are more able to evade ground predators. They can outfly a coyote or fox but a hawk is a different situation. When they are in thick cover they are less susceptible to overhead threats.

Bob

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Were saying if you must feed, place the feeders adjacent to cover - not in the cover. A short 25 yard run or flight is less risky than 1/4 to 1/2 mile.

I bet all those guys feeding deer in NW MN the past few years are now regretting it. Since deer are being reduced to avoid TB.

Anytime you concentrated pheasants at a small feed location - there can be problems - yep they poop on the feed piles (so do turkeys) you risk disease.

You guys keep throwing the corn out there - it makes you feel better - but in the long run it makes no real difference at all.

If we have a warm, relatively dry spring - there will be pheasants everywhere. Normal spring - normal reproduction. Cold wet spring - chasen long spurs since hatch will be small.

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Freezing rain kills the pheasants eating corn along roadsides. frown.gif Pheasants closer to cover are fine. smile.gif

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