Sunday, February 14, 2010
400 Pheasants an Acre?
Reposted from 2006.
A new report from the Game Conservancy Trust (a very good conservation group in the UK) notes that the release of up to 35 million pen-raised pheasants and 10 million partridges a year in that country can have a "negative impact" on some vegetation. Their recommendation: release "no more than 400 pheasants ... per acre of woodland."
Ugh .... right. More than 400 pheasants per acre would be wrong. I have always thought so.
It turns out some estates release as many as 1,000 pheasants per acre. Yow! Can this be true? We don't have densities like that at the average chicken farm.
Of course, here in the U.S. we generally do not hunt pen-raised birds. Most serious bird hunters sneer at canned hunts. You find a little bit of this kind of thing going on in Texas and near some East Coast cities, but most of our shooters are going into real nature and are content with smaller bags.
What's the purpose of shooting 200 or even 40 pheasants in a day?
In the Dakota's, a man and his dog will work large open fields all day long for a bag of three. That's real hunting.
In my mind, a bunch of over-dressed men and women walking a line to shoot pen-raised birds is a chicken shoot. There is no field craft, and there is no chance you will go home empty-handed. It's not hunting, because it does not entail skill or chance or expertise of any kind.
We do not say a butcher has gone hunting, and yet we say a person has gone hunting even if he or she has spent three days in the woods and shot nothing. Hunting is not a chicken shoot and it is not entirely about killing, is it?
Each to his own, of course. We kill a billion chickens a year in this country and I am not wringing my hands over that, so I am not going to rip out my own beating heart to protest canned pheasant, quail and partridge shoots in a country where I do not even live.
I am just glad to be an American. I am glad we (mostly) do it differently.