Releasing Pheasants

A single crate of pheasants - an experiment in gamekeeping

The past two or three days have been very busy since the pheasants have arrived. A single crate containing fifteen birds went up on Thursday morning, and I’ve been back and forth trying to keep an eye on them ever since. The continuous wild weather is making the whole project a pretty bleak affair, but every day is teaching me something new and despite the tiny scale of the release, it may be possible to mix in a single pheasant drive for the annual woodcock day in November.

I’m not totally keen on releasing pheasants. I can see that it suits some areas and I have no moral problems with shooting released birds, but I don’t plan on it being a major part of my project on the Chayne. With the possibility of creating a shootable surplus of wild birds like snipe, woodcock, grouse and teal, I would rather make the long term commitment and invest in habitat improvement than put birds down.

In the meantime, it’s a fascinating side-project. After four nights on the hill, one pheasant has totally vanished into thin air and another died when it got stuck in between two layers of wall netting. The remainder are all fighting fight, although looking somewhat bedraggled thanks to the last few days of constant wind and rain. Nothing has yet been able to get inside the pen, and while I expect to find signs of predation every time I visit, everything has been eerily quiet… For now.

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