Creating Habitat: Bringing it all together
Evaluating your property and adjusting available habitat to reduce local limiting factors may be the quickest and most effective way to increase pheasant populations in your area. In most areas of South Dakota quality nesting and brood rearing cover are by far the most limiting piece of the puzzle when it comes to pheasant management. Other habitat components such as heavy winter cover, roosting, and escape cover are vital for maintaining or expanding your local pheasant population. See the following real world examples of how you might develop your property for upland game birds and other wildlife.
Habitat Example #1
In this 160 acre example Continuous CRP (CCRP) wetland programs have been used to create both Dense Nesting Cover (DNC) as well as native warm season grass roosting cover in existing cropland. Notice how the woody cover and food habitat plots have been strategically placed on the downwind side of established cattail sloughs and warm season grasses creating a core winter area. Pairing quality nesting and winter habitats will substantially increase both pheasant production and over winter survival.
Habitat Example #2
In this 80 acre example, the farm site windbreak has been incorporated with a food habitat plot to create a core winter area. A small existing cool season pasture has been managed for nesting habitat by delaying grazing until July 15. Several wetland basins in existing cropland make the balance of the property eligible for CCRP. A diverse mix of native grasses and forbs has been chosen to serve as nesting, roosting, and brood rearing cover maximizing the benefits on a limited acreage.
Habitat Example #3
In this working lands habitat model a managed grazing system has been installed, creating over 200 acres of quality nesting habitat while keeping livestock on the landscape. Cross fences and water tanks have been installed to create 3 paddocks for proper grazing management. Marginal cropland has been converted to warm season grasses by using CCRP and has been linked up with a woody cover planting and food habitat plot to create a core winter area. This is a true win, win situation. The producer receives guaranteed income on marginal croplands, improved pasture condition, and increasing wildlife production. Properly managed native and tame pastures can be extremely productive nesting and brood rearing cover.