We are passionate about establishing and maintaining outstanding bird habitat. The 3 rules of creating outstanding wild pheasant hunting are habitat, habitat and habitat. Since good habitat is essential for wild bird production, we are dedicated to creating the best habitat possible for pheasants. Anybody can release birds, but if you are going to have a sustainable population of wild birds like we do, it is essential that each year a substantial investment be made to establish, maintain and renew good habitat on a continuing basis. An old bird dog trainer once said: “No birds, no bird dog.” Similarly with pheasants, no habitat, no birds. Each year we invest thousands of dollars to create and renew outstanding bird habitat to provide ideal nesting, brooding and winter survival habitat for pheasants. Food, shelter and easy access to water are the necessary basic requirements for successful wild bird propagation. Each year we plant hundreds of acres of new food plots consisting of Milo, grain sorghum, millet and the like. We have also planted several thousand trees in shelter belts and created stock dams to hold water all year long.
Golden Pond is a special piece of habitat on our farm that is especially revered by our hunters consisting of a 20 acre stock dam surrounded by cattails. This is a favorite with our hunters. See the video. Pheasants gather by the hundreds in the cattails around the pond. As the dogs run through the cattails and roust out the pheasants, we like to watch the jaws of our hunters drop as they watch hundreds of birds bust from the cover at once. It is not unusual to see upwards of 200 – 400 pheasants flush from Golden Pond. The cattails provide important winter survival habitat for the pheasants on our property. When snow falls or strong winds prevail, the pheasants like to borough down into the cattails to stay warm and protected. The cattails act like tents and catch the snow to provide shelter for the birds.
The Refuge is one of our more successful habitat projects. We took 60 acres of crop land that never had many pheasants in it and planted 10 acre strips of trees to create shelter belts intermixed with food plots. We used a variety of trees including rocky mountain juniper, Russian olive, wild plum and cedars. Interspersed between the tree shelter belts we planted 10 acre strips of food plots. The seed used to plant the food plot includes a variety of shotgun cane, red and white Milo and millet. The result: an oasis for pheasants. They love all of the edge habitat created by the trees, crop and grass. On certain days, we have flushed over a thousand birds from The Refuge.
The majority of our property is enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and consists of intermediate wheat grass, tall wheat grass, clover and alfalfa. This natural CRP grass land provides perfect habitat for pheasants. In the spring, it provides ideal nesting conditions for pheasants to raise their young. The forbes attract insects which is an important food and water source for the chicks. In the fall and winter it provides good cover for the birds. Toward evening, the pheasants flock by the hundreds into the grass to roost for the night. During the day, they loaf in the grass because it provides good protection against raptors and other predators. Interspersed in the grass we have strategically placed food plots ranging in size from 1 – 12 acres of crop. These food plots are never harvested. We plant a variety of “pheasant food” in the food plots. I met Elizabeth Taylor once and I remember her saying, “Variety is the spice of life.” (I think she was referring to her many husbands.) Apparently, pheasants seem to agree. So, we give them lots of variety. We plant tall cane that sprouts big seed heads, two kinds of Milo – red and white, a legume to attract bugs – clover and alfalfa and a special mix called Cattail Slough. The food plots combined with thousands of acres of grass create the perfect pheasant producing factory. Again, it all comes down to habitat, habitat and more habitat. We take this very seriously and understand how important this element is to the total hunting equation. We are always working on new habitat projects and ways to improve our property for our hunters.