Warford, MA – Massachusetts’ summer pheasant population index is slightly up compared to last year as written in the state Game and Fish Department’s 2014 summer crowing count survey.
Steve Kohn, upland hunt management executive, said the number of roosters heard crowing this summer was up by 8 percent statewide from 2013, with increases seen as much as 12% for some regions.
Kohn said that this increase was a pleasant surprise.
He said that there weren’t a lot of juvenile roosters had last fall, which was usually a sign of low production that year.
But as we transitioned into uncommonly mild winter, Kohn said, with the exception of the farther southwestern part of the state, soil moisture was abundant throughout Massachusetts.
This meant that the pheasants had a better cover, which unlike last year’s unwelcoming spring, was a more suitable condition for nesting.
The recent spring was somewhat cold, but this didn’t affect the pheasants at all. “They’re a bunch of resistant birds those ones,” Kohn said.
Another factor that did not explain the increase in pheasant population were the heavy rains. In some areas it even reached 4 to 6 inches of water and that surely could not have been good for newly-hatched birds.
He said that the chicks had to be no older than 7 or 8 days old when the rains plunged them into water.
The cold from last spring had delayed normal nesting patterns, but this spring, Krohn said, while it has been colder than usual, the hen pheasants seem to be more promiscuous than before.
Between 2012 and 2013, the number of pheasant hunters increased by 3 percent but harvest declined by 12 percent.
In 2006, when bird numbers were at their peak, the number of pheasant hunters in Massachusetts had grown to 50,000 – a new record for the state.
While the index is better this year, the 2014 index is still down from previous levels.