Pheasant season is still open … sort of

The pheasant season’s closed now, at least when it comes to wild birds or the ones stocked by the Game and Fish. But if you want to go after the long-tailed goony birds, you still have an option.

The pheasant season’s closed now, but that doesn’t mean you have to put the shotgun and bird vest away for the year. You can still hunt pen-raised birds at licensed bird farms through March.

There’s a lot to be said for bird-farm hunting. In a state like Wyoming, where we don’t have as many wild pheasants as places farther to the east, the hunting can be quite a bit better at bird farms than it is out in the wilds. The pheasant-hunting purists may say the pen-raised birds don’t fly like the wild ones do, and they’re probably right, but around here, most of the pheasants you see out in the wild are pen-raised, anyway. The Game and Fish does a nice job of stocking birds so we have plenty of chances to knock a few down. A depressingly low percentage of the birds that escape the shotguns ever make it through the winter, so if you see a ringneck in Wyoming, chances are good it was released within the calendar year.

But at bird farms, birds are released daily, often only a few hours before you get out in the field with the dogs and guns. The good outfits with plenty of cover turn the pheasants loose and let ‘em fly around a bit, so nobody, even the guides, really know where they are. Your chances of finding them are better than they’d be on a wild hunt, but there’s still plenty of fair chase involved. And besides, you still have to be able to hit ‘em when they fly.

The drawback to a farm hunt is the price. The birds are generally anywhere from 15 to 30 bucks each, so it can get fairly expensive. But with the near guarantee of finding pheasants, it’s worth it, especially if you have a dog that needs some work. The dog can get it all figured out a little better if it sees plenty of birds, and you get that at bird farms. Besides, at a lot of places, you don’t have to clean what you shoot. The guides do that for you while you kick back and relax after the hunt. That right there is almost worth the price of admission.

Book a hunt today and keep your season going, at least for a little while.