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Greg Hartman

Anybody buy their PA phez "stamp" yet?

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Dave in Maine

Here's what I posted on the Hunting PA board last August at the time when the stamp was under discussion.  It kicked off a lengthy (>400 responses) discussion which you can read at this link http://www.huntingpa.com/forums/23-small-game-forum/140319-you-do-not-want-pheasant-stamp.html:

 

 
Quote

 

You do not want a pheasant stamp.

I've been reading the back-and-forth about whether to have a pheasant stamp and all the wonderful things that will happen, and horribles that will be avoided, if and when PA gets a pheasant stamp.

I live and hunt in Maine, though I'm a native Pennsylvanian and grew up hunting in PA back when there were lots of wild pheasants all over. We have a pheasant stamp in Maine. I can tell you from our experience that the last thing you want in PA is to have one.

The long and the short of it is, as in most other things, m-o-n-e-y. Once the PGC can gauge exactly how much money pheasant hunting brings in, they will spend just that much and no more on it. Buying stamps tells them exactly how much.

My combined Maine resident fishing and hunting license costs $42 and the pheasant stamp another $17. The pheasant program is supported solely by the proceeds from the stamp. Last year's stamp sales buy this year's birds. For that $17, and the $17 of all the other hunters who buy one, we get:

1. One game biologist who spends [a lot] less than half his time on the pheasant program;
2. three stockings each year (2300 birds last year, total);
3. some small signs marking where the stocking locations are.

Most of the legwork is done by volunteers from a half-dozen rod-and-gun clubs in the southern part of the state (mine included). That includes sussing out landowners who'd be willing to open their land to hunting and allow pheasant stocking. One guy I know goes to Goodwill and buys old pie plates, gathers apples from old orchards (the price is right) and makes them into apple pies, which he then uses to bribe/sweet-talk landowners into opening their land. Seriously. As it is a lot of the cover is "suboptimal" at best - juniper thickets under a long-distance high tension line, swamps, and occasionally farm fields. We get some holdover birds, depending on how rough the winters are.

Almost all the stocking work is done by the guys from the rod and gun clubs. This involves meeting the truck from the hatchery and taking the crated birds in the volunteers' pickup trucks to the release sites, then turning them loose. The total load for each stocking is one F350 towing a large-ish landscaper's trailer loaded with crated birds, i.e., about 750 birds per load. The state stocked 2300 birds last year.http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_tra...g/pheasant.htm
You can suss out that the program is selling maybe 2000 or 2500 stamps, maybe 3000.

Maine buys its birds from a commercial hatchery/raising operation in another state. At one time, the birds were raised here by volunteers (not state employees), but getting volunteers from a gun club to turn into poultry farmers is a hard sell. It's hard enough to get them to come to a monthly meeting let alone feed and water and protect a couple thousand pheasants on a daily basis. They have other, paying jobs. It wound up being 5 or 6 guys doing all the work. A few years ago when the volunteers in charge lost heart after some mink got into the pens and raised all kinds of [censored], the state went to buying birds. The one year the state had to buy more birds after the flock tested positive for a mosquito-borne illness and had to be destroyed.

Sometimes they're good flyers (like last year) and sometimes not so much (like 4-5 years ago).

Most if not all fish and game departments are primarily judged on and evaluate their own success on the results of deer season and the strength of their deer herd. Pennsylvania is one. (The Dakotas are the biggest exception in my opinion.) Pheasants take a distant second, third or fourth (behind turkeys and other big game). As it is, right now the PA guys who buy a license so they can hunt deer on the first day and the Saturdays of the season are subsidizing everything else. If you go to a pheasant stamp you will quickly find out how many guys are willing to part with another $25. (Not many. Surprisingly few.) The Game Commission will, too, and they will quickly adjust their priorities. And you won't see hundreds of thousands of birds being stocked ever again, nor will you see much research time, effort or money spent on restoring the populations that used to exist.

You don't have to believe me, but what I've told you is true.
 


 

 
People seems to be operating under the impression that the PGC (or any governmental agency, for that matter) is operating in their interests.  In the PGC's case, that means most people operate under the impression that the PGC is operating in the interests of hunters.  This is incorrect.  They are operating in the interests of preserving their own jobs.  Exhibit A for that is what happened during the discussions and rule-making during the last legislative session, when the PGC made the casse for both the pheasant stamp and a license increase.  The minute it became clear that the PGC would get the license price increase, what did they do?  Did they stay the hand of closing one of the pheasant farms?  Did they stop the layoffs of the pheasant farm workers?  Did they devote money to grouse or pheasant habitat work?
 
No. 
 
They hired a new class of about 35 game wardens.  E.g., http://www.timesobserver.com/news/local-news/2017/02/conservation-officers-may-be-in-demand/ , and the discussion which followed http://www.huntingpa.com/forums/20-general-hunting-forum/174353-game-commission-recruit-new-wco-class.html  Hundreds of folks responded (a reflection of the popularity of government jobs which will be there in the future...).
 
The point is, those new WCOs most importantly bring in fine revenue (OTOH, biologists and habitat improvement cost money) and get paid at a lower rate.  The old employees at the pheasant farm were doubtless long-term employees both near the top of the pay scale and with more expensive benefit and pension packages, to the extent they had them.
 
But, back to the main point:  in the future, the Game Commission will know - from pheasant tag sales - exactly how many pheasants they have to stock to keep  the diminishing number of bird hunters "happy".  And, to the extent people refuse to buy pheasant tags, they will both tell the Game Commission that bird hunters are a diminishing fraction of the hunting community (who can safely be ignored because they are an irrelevant minority) and provide fine revenue from the guys who whack a pheasant without a tag.
 
If you don't like it now, wait until you get irrelevancy piled on top of it.

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forestdump

Oregon has a fee pheasant program in place on the west side of the state and it's nothing like that. $17 to harvest 2 birds. Birds are released on 3 different WMAs. 200 birds every day. Birds are bought from suppliers in Idaho and the ODFW employees care for the birds and do the releasing.

 

Personally I think it's fair. $17 or $25 is the cost of a box of ammo. Subsidizes the cost of birds, allows getting into pheasants a month early and in a part of the state where you aren't really going to find wild ones. Their fee program is for the released birds separate from upland game tag and you can hunt the leftovers with your regular upland tag once pheasant season officially starts. 

 

I understand things in ME might not be all sunshine but that doesn't make all programs bad. Oregon gets some flack out here for their F&W dept compared to WA, MT, and ID but man am I glad to be out of New England. 

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grouse28
7 hours ago, forestdump said:

How many birds does the $25 tag let you take?

Unlimited number of birds.

That includes the guy who I saw give his daily limit of 2 birds to a buddy in a truck along the road and went out after two more right after the stocking truck left.

Also includes the retired warden who is from a heavily forested county who groomed several state game lands for pheasant and now that he retired takes upwards of 70 birds a year.

As a counter to that he does take a few youths out with his dogs for a hunt.

There will be the slobs that will hunt without a permit, feeling it is their right to hunt.

I have seen the fiasco after the birds are stocked, hunters lined up along the fields waiting for the released birds, which are dazed and confused.

The PGC does a great job of raising the birds in wild conditions, acres of fields with netting and crops planted within so the birds are flightworthy.

I agree that once these birds have had a day or so of freedom they are not the "typical ditch chickens" everyone derides.

I think pheasant hunting should be suspended for the days of stocking to allow them to become acclimated.

And yes I did get my permit, and my bobcat tag, fisher tag, and bear tag. May or may not use them, contribution to the PGC, for better or worse.

Pheasant permit is 3 or so packs of cigarettes, a case of beer, (or 3 cases for the typical PA deer hunter), as Greg said they can complain while driving their expensive trucks that never really get dirty. Cheap entertainment in my book.

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forestdump
33 minutes ago, grouse28 said:

Unlimited number of birds.

That includes the guy who I saw give his daily limit of 2 birds to a buddy in a truck along the road and went out after two more right after the stocking truck left.

Also includes the retired warden who is from a heavily forested county who groomed several state game lands for pheasant and now that he retired takes upwards of 70 birds a year.

As a counter to that he does take a few youths out with his dogs for a hunt.

There will be the slobs that will hunt without a permit, feeling it is their right to hunt.

I have seen the fiasco after the birds are stocked, hunters lined up along the fields waiting for the released birds, which are dazed and confused.

The PGC does a great job of raising the birds in wild conditions, acres of fields with netting and crops planted within so the birds are flightworthy.

I agree that once these birds have had a day or so of freedom they are not the "typical ditch chickens" everyone derides.

I think pheasant hunting should be suspended for the days of stocking to allow them to become acclimated.

And yes I did get my permit, and my bobcat tag, fisher tag, and bear tag. May or may not use them, contribution to the PGC, for better or worse.

Pheasant permit is 3 or so packs of cigarettes, a case of beer, (or 3 cases for the typical PA deer hunter), as Greg said they can complain while driving their expensive trucks that never really get dirty. Cheap entertainment in my book.

 

 

It is amazing what people will do just to kill a bird.  In this case a glorified pet chicken. Whats the point if you're basically shooting them off the truck. Sad.

 

PGC might have some success with what they do out here. Cut off hunting in the WMAs at 4pm during the pheasant release period. They then release the birds later that day this gives the birds about 14-16 hours  to acclimate. The smart ones find nice cover, the dumb ones turn into coyote poop.

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Don Steese
2 hours ago, Dave in Maine said:

Here's what I posted on the Hunting PA board last August at the time when the stamp was under discussion.  It kicked off a lengthy (>400 responses) discussion which you can read at this link http://www.huntingpa.com/forums/23-small-game-forum/140319-you-do-not-want-pheasant-stamp.html:

 

 
 
People seems to be operating under the impression that the PGC (or any governmental agency, for that matter) is operating in their interests.  In the PGC's case, that means most people operate under the impression that the PGC is operating in the interests of hunters.  This is incorrect.  They are operating in the interests of preserving their own jobs.  Exhibit A for that is what happened during the discussions and rule-making during the last legislative session, when the PGC made the casse for both the pheasant stamp and a license increase.  The minute it became clear that the PGC would get the license price increase, what did they do?  Did they stay the hand of closing one of the pheasant farms?  Did they stop the layoffs of the pheasant farm workers?  Did they devote money to grouse or pheasant habitat work?
 
No. 
 
They hired a new class of about 35 game wardens.  E.g., http://www.timesobserver.com/news/local-news/2017/02/conservation-officers-may-be-in-demand/ , and the discussion which followed http://www.huntingpa.com/forums/20-general-hunting-forum/174353-game-commission-recruit-new-wco-class.html  Hundreds of folks responded (a reflection of the popularity of government jobs which will be there in the future...).
 
The point is, those new WCOs most importantly bring in fine revenue (OTOH, biologists and habitat improvement cost money) and get paid at a lower rate.  The old employees at the pheasant farm were doubtless long-term employees both near the top of the pay scale and with more expensive benefit and pension packages, to the extent they had them.
 
But, back to the main point:  in the future, the Game Commission will know - from pheasant tag sales - exactly how many pheasants they have to stock to keep  the diminishing number of bird hunters "happy".  And, to the extent people refuse to buy pheasant tags, they will both tell the Game Commission that bird hunters are a diminishing fraction of the hunting community (who can safely be ignored because they are an irrelevant minority) and provide fine revenue from the guys who whack a pheasant without a tag.
 
If you don't like it now, wait until you get irrelevancy piled on top of it.

 

 

Interesting take, and it's perfectly logical when you stop to think about it. I've maintained for years that when the ranks of hunters shrinks to the point of not being an important voting bloc, we're finished. Same principle you're citing RE: The Game Commission. 

Only thing I'd add is that even in a perfect world wildlife agencies like the PGC should not be there strictly to serve the interest of hunters either, no matter what we may think. . Protecting and defending wildlife of all kinds is to be their number one priority. Problem is, wildlife doesn't buy licenses. I used to rail against using general fund moneys to fund the game commission; but I'm not so sure anymore?  Like everything else, it ain't simple!

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DAP
8 hours ago, forestdump said:

How many birds does the $25 tag let you take?

198 birds if you are an adult, 210 if you are a youth between 12 and 16.

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Greg Hartman
3 hours ago, DAP said:

198 birds if you are an adult, 210 if you are a youth between 12 and 16.

 

This is where I think the system fails.  A semi-retired guy like me can hunt every day and doesn't ever have to fight the crowds on a Saturday.  I never take more than my daily limit of two.  I eat them regularly (really like them and its good no fat protein) so I never go over my possession limit.  Even so, I can and do take quite a few birds during the season - never worried with trying to count them - just make sure I stay within the law on daily and possession limits.

 

Having been the guy who was working 70+ hours/wk, I don't think this is fair to a guy who buys the same $25 phez permit I do, but can only hunt on some Saturdays - especially if he is dogless.  If he takes 3 or 4 birds in a season, he's had a good season.  

 

I think there should have been a phez tag system, so you get, for example, 4 phez tags for a $25 permit.  Then, if you use up your tags, you buy another permit.  I'd do that in a heartbeat.  Compared to what I pay per bird at my hunting club, that's a real bargain, plus you get to hunt  in vast and beautiful lands with miles and miles of great cover.  This would sorta level the playing field between a retired guy with good dogs who hunts just about every day vs. the young working guy.

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ryanr

Trying to compare Maine's pheasant program to Pennsylvania's program is like comparing Tim Tebow's baseball career so far to Mike Trout. (And really, if one is actually in Maine why waste time on pheasants or even complaining there's not enough?)

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ryanr
19 hours ago, Marc Ret said:

As others have said, I have not purchased my license yet but will be buying the stamp along with the general license. I seldom go out alone for pheasant anymore but will go a time or two a season to spend the time with friends. The shared time afield with friends is where I derive the most pleasure when it comes to PA pheasants. $25 is a cheap price to pay for that time. 

 

It would be great to see the program be self-sustaining but I doubt that's feasible given all the negative feedback I've seen from PA hunters. It's kinda like cutting welfare benefits...

 

Just an amusing side note from another PA specific forum on this topic (ryanr may recall this incident).  One of the posters continually complained about the (at that time) proposed $25 fee of the permit. On multiple occasions he complained he couldn't afford the $25 due to all the associated costs of just paying the household bills of the average joe.  It wasn't fair and all that jazz. A short time later he got caught talking about flying his plane to get a hamburger at a certain restaurant some distance from where he lived. He said it was known to he and other pilots in that area as "getting a hundred dollar hamburger". Didn't go over too well with those who remembered his constant complaints in regards to the pheasant stamp.   

 

 

Marcus

Oh man, I missed that please tell me who? There are 2 I remember that continuously complained about the permit and really the cost of all PA hunting licenses or permits.

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Marc Ret
2 hours ago, ryanr said:

Oh man, I missed that please tell me who? There are 2 I remember that continuously complained about the permit and really the cost of all PA hunting licenses or permits.

 

 

Blue Bird. 

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ryanr

Thought so.

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WPG Gizmo

NH has a tag also the cost is $31 this year it allows you to take 2 birds a day for a total of 10 for the season all the stocking sites are well known and the birds have no chance to get acclimated to the area they are released in.  People used to wait for the trucks to drive into the sites and shoot the birds as they were being released that has changed as they closed all sites till noon on stocking days.  There will be a total of 140 birds released over 3 weekends in Oct on each site for a total release of 11,936 birds.

 

Ok the reality of it is that the NH stocking of pheasants sucks the sites are over hunted.  If you go with a dog you will find dead birds that other hunters wounded and didn't bother to look for if your dog finds one and brings it to you well it is now your bird and counts against your total for the day.  I have had other dogless hunters run up to my dogs while they were on point to get the bird or I have flushed the bird and had others shooting at it as it was flying away.  A couple of these sites hold decent woodcock numbers but you have to have a pheasant permit to hunt there even if you are not hunting pheasant.  You will get a ticket from a Warden as it is presumed you are hunting Pheasant without a permit.  I have a couple of places I used to like to hunt that have a private hunting preserve nearby that releases Pheasant for driven shoots and such.  Some of these birds fly off their land and into these places they are not state released birds or on a release site but if you hunt near it you have to have a permit or face getting a ticket I dont hunt them any longer.

 

This year NH lost 5 stocking site due to unsafe hunters all these sites were on private land and the land owner decided enough was enough

 

Not worth the $31 to buy a useless permit

 

 

 

 

 

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Don Steese
5 hours ago, Greg Hartman said:

 

 

 

I think there should have been a phez tag system, so you get, for example, 4 phez tags for a $25 permit.  Then, if you use up your tags, you buy another permit.  I'd do that in a heartbeat.  Compared to what I pay per bird at my hunting club, that's a real bargain, plus you get to hunt  in vast and beautiful lands with miles and miles of great cover.  This would sorta level the playing field between a retired guy with good dogs who hunts just about every day vs. the young working guy.

 

 

That's the way it works in Sask. for huns and sharpies, although there you get a season's worth of tags and when they're gone, you're done. Your idea makes more sense. 

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Dave in Maine
2 hours ago, WPG Gizmo said:

... People used to wait for the trucks to drive into the sites and shoot the birds as they were being released that has changed as they closed all sites till noon on stocking days. ...

It changed the other year after some joker shot one of the people doing the stocking.

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Dave in Maine
7 hours ago, ryanr said:

Trying to compare Maine's pheasant program to Pennsylvania's program is like comparing Tim Tebow's baseball career so far to Mike Trout. (And really, if one is actually in Maine why waste time on pheasants or even complaining there's not enough?)

Why have pheasants, waste time on them, etc.?

Because to find decent huntable numbers of grouse you have to drive a good hour away from 95.  The pheasants are stocked on huntable land within 10 miles of 95, so they're accessible, especially for the guy who works 50 or 70 hours a week and (Maine being like PA in this regard) can't hunt on Sunday.  (NH you can - we have Maine hunters who buy a NH non-resident license to go over there and hunt Sundays.)

And PA's pheasant hunting is more like Pablo Sandoval (a/k/a "Kung Fu Panda") than Mike Trout - it's living on past glory and not producing hunting.

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