Hens During State Season

This year, the California State Season for Pheasant will be November 9 to December 22, 2019.  (As we are a Zone B Licensed Gamebird Club, we are able to hunt pheasant before and after those dates.)

Historically, we have purchased pheasants from our breeders in a mix of 60% roosters and 40% hens.  We took delivery of the birds throughout the hunting season, receiving all of our roosters first, and once those were delivered, we moved on to only hens.  This change from roosters to hens usually occurred in late January or early February.

For many years, we discussed the idea of releasing only hens during State Season. Our thinking is a follows:

During State Season, only roosters and NOT hens are allowed to be shot on both private and public lands – while both roosters and hens CAN be shot on Licensed Gamebird Clubs.

This means the roosters that we release at the Club, and fly off the Island to neighboring properties, can be shot by hunters on those neighboring lands.  If those birds were hens, they would NOT be allowed to be shot if they flew off the Island.

Once State Season was over, many of those hens would migrate back to the Island, attracted by the roosters and other birds at the Club.

If we released hens during the State Season, we would be able to release roosters several weeks longer into the Club’s season.  Last season, we estimate that we would have been able to release roosters for 4 weeks longer than otherwise.

Hens tend to get “eggy” and loose their scent toward the end of the Club season, because it is closer to Springtime when they begin to nest.  This does not happen during November/December and the hens should fly better during this time period.

When the idea of releasing hens during State Season was originally proposed over a dozen years ago, we gave it a try.  From a bird perspective it worked well.  From a customer relations standpoint it was a mixed reaction at best, with a number of members being quite upset at the surprise of encountering hens in November/December.  That was a mistake on our part – we should have anticipated some people’s reactions and given more advance notice to our members about this change.

During the 2018-2019 State Season we implemented this change and are very happy with the results.  The hens are truly a different bird in November and December.  They have more scent.  They don’t “hold”. And when flushed, they fly much better than they would during the early Spring.  Releasing hens during that time period allowed us to release roosters well into late February.

A number of members expressed their skepticism about hunting hens during the State Season.  Not one of those members expressed any disappointment after coming out and giving it at try.  In fact, most were surprised and thrilled with the experience that they had.

We plan to continue this practice into the foreseeable future and hope that you will appreciate the longer season for roosters.