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Chapter News - January 20, 2017

Pheasants Forever: Hale County conservationists work to keep birds

Pheasants Forever: Hale County conservationists work to keep birds

Date: Friday, January 20, 2017

As president of the newly formed High Plains chapter of Pheasants Forever, Danny Glenn is a lifelong fan of the club’s namesake species.

Male pheasants — the only huntable kind — are colorful birds, recognizable by their long tails and white rings around their necks.

“I think most people enjoy ’em because they’re such a pretty bird,” Glenn said.

Glenn has been hunting pheasants since he was a teenager in the ’70s. And if killing birds while trying to boost their numbers sounds counterproductive, keep in mind he isn’t hunting, say, pregnant females.

Because male pheasants mate with multiple hens each season, hunting a few males removes more than what the species needs for spring reproduction, according to Pheasants Forever.

Texas law does not allow hunting female pheasants, Game Warden Aaron Sims said.

Pheasant numbers have not dropped as rapidly as that of other species such as the lesser prairie chicken. Still, Glenn and other conservationists want them to stay up.

Severe drought a few years ago hurt them significantly. Glenn recalls setting out for a hunt when the season opened in dry 2011, then seeing only a couple birds all day. Worried, he put his gun down and skipped the rest of that hunting season.

They’ve certainly recovered, though. After an extra-rainy 2015, last year brought the best pheasant hunting Glenn can recall.

“(Drought) was absolutely devastating, more than anything,” he said. “They’re resilient birds, so they came back.”

Pheasant focused

A major focus of Pheasants Forever is on habitat preservation. Pheasants like brush to provide cover from predators — coyotes and hawks are big enemies — and playa lakes for roosting at night. They’re also fond of the native grasses in fields under the federal Conservation Reserve Program, plus the corn and sorghum that farmers grow nearby. After grain harvest, they feast on whatever the combine doesn’t catch.

“This is perfect habitat for pheasants,” Glenn said, pointing toward various landmarks while cruising through the birds’ territory a few miles north of Plainview.

Pheasants Forever is a sister organization of Quail Forever. Together, both groups have 10 chapters in Texas and 11 in Oklahoma.

Lubbock introduced a Quail Forever chapter about two years ago. Glenn and a group of hunting buddies decided to start their Pheasants Forever chapter back in October, then started the organization process.

“They want to conserve the pheasant and quail populations for future generations, and that’s what we wanted to do, so we decided to start a chapter,” he said.

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever were founded in 1982 by a Minnesota outdoors writer who grew worried about habitat loss. That founding was before the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program; habitat preservation has since been a major goal.

“We want to preserve what we have for future generations, and make sure they have the same opportunities that we do,” Laura McIver, regional representative for Texas and Oklahoma, said in a phone interview.

McIver considers Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever unique in that national headquarters allows individual chapters 100 percent control over how they spend their fundraising dollars. At the national level, the group has also grown more politically active the past 35 years.

“Pheasants Forever is one of the biggest reasons we have conservation measures in the Farm Bill,” McIver said of the federal agriculture funding package. “Every eight years they work very hard to make sure they have as much conservation acreage as possible.”

McIver and other supporters also see a bonus with their bird-protection work: keeping up their habitat helps other species, too.

“It helps preserve habitat for all wildlife, not just birds,” she said.

Future

Glenn and other High Plains officers are brainstorming a banquet and other fundraising ideas, along with youth education projects.

They’re also seeking new members — if you like pheasants, give him a call.

“We would definitely love to have anybody that’s interested,” he said.

High Plains chapter of Pheasants Forever

What: New conservation group

Who: President Danny Glenn, vice president Lisa Kersh, treasurer Rick Vanhersh, habitat chairman Jerry Matlock, webmaster Brandey McCrory, banquet chairwoman Brenda Tyler, youth/education coordinator Bailee Cross

Next meeting: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25 at Danny Glenn’s farm north of Plainview (call for directions)

More information or request to join: danny.glenn7@gmail.com or (806) 317-5184

Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal