Pheasant Season Just Around the Corner

By Spider Rybaak

For most outdoor lovers, October in Oswego Countypromises streams swollen with trophy salmon and trout, Oneida Lake walleyes moving to within casting distance of shore, and the discordant songs of waterfowl streaming through the air above it all. But water sports ain’t all the county has to offer. Indeed, when the waters meet dry land—and they always do, eventually–new habitats are created, ideal stomping grounds for birds of a different feather: pheasants.

Pheasants hail from Asia. And although they’ve made a solid foothold in America, primarily the Midwest, the species doesn’t do too well in northern NY because our predators, everything from skunks to foxes, feed on their eggs and young.And while some chicks survive and even propagate, their numbers are few and getting a home grown ring-necked pheasant is extremely challenging.
But Oswegois loaded with edge habitats mature birds find to their liking: farmer’s fields, hedgerows, woodland undergrowth, and brushy clearings around wetlands. So the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation raises thousands of birds each year and releases them into the wild when they reach adulthood.
This year the NYSDEC will release 30,000 birds just before the season opener: October 1, in Oswego County. What’s more, the agency will unloose the county’s share just before the special youth hunting weekend, September 29-30, 2012.
To qualify for the special season, a child must be between 12 and 15 years old, possess a current hunting license, and be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian while hunting. The elder is required for supervision only and isn’t permitted to do any actual hunting (see page 34-35 in the “New York Hunting and Trapping Guide for further information).
The lion’s share of the ring-necks destined for Oswego County is going to be released in two publicly owned parcels: Deer Creek Marsh Wildlife Management Area and Three-Mile Bay WMA.
Three Mile Bay WMA is south of NY 49 in West Monroe and is easily accessible off Toad Harbor Road, McCloud Drive and West Road.
Deer Creek Marsh WMA is a couple miles north of Port Ontario, on the west side of NY 3.
Pheasant in flight near Deer Creek WMA
Deer Creek Marsh WMA pheasant habitat as seen from the Rainbow Shores Drive public access site, about 1/4 mile west of NY 3.
Salmon River Update:

This month marks the lowest the Salmon River has been in September in recent memory. Still, kings have been storming upstream in strength for the past week.

Stringers loaded with kings.