Maine pheasant hunting is limited to the coastal counties, such birds being unable to tolerate deep snow during the winter in the northern areas.
The pheasants are found, like grouse, in the agricultural parts and around the outskirts of the villages. We visit the same covers in many instances and it is not uncommon to find pheasants in woodcock covers.
We look for them in fields and covers which contain seed plants or weeds during the first part of the open season. We also find them in gardens from which they harvested maize, beans and other foods. They also feed on berries and apples but not as much as grouse does.
Later, after being wise about men’s ways, dogs and weapons the birds are more likely to be found in dense cover and softwoods. A cover of vines and bushes so thickly grown that it’s almost impenetrable would be a favorite hiding spot for pheasants.
Every spring the State of Maine releases four to five thousand mature pheasants. Such birds breed in the wild, creating flocks of four to a hundred. Furthermore, in the early part of the summer, the State releases six to seven thousand almost grown birds. They complement the wild stock and are available in the Fall for hunting. Although if they are not as abundant as grouse and woodcock, there are enough pheasants in Maine to offer good sport. They are an additional excuse for late season grouse hunting, as the open seasons run together in November for the first two weeks.
Let me give this message to anyone who hasn’t hunted pheasants: The birds are smart, fast-flying and not easy to kill. Some of the shots will be in ranges of more than twenty-five yards and in many instances the birds will emerge from shooting. Often they can elude a top-notch retrieving dog while injured.
Duck hunting and pheasant hunting can also be mixed in certain areas, devoting part of the day to each species. This would be especially true in the Maine coastal areas where tide is an significant factor in waterfowl hunting.
Nevertheless, anyone considering hunting pheasants or any other Maine game species should review the seasons and regulations in the Maine hunting law handbook, published annually and obtainable from the Inland Fisheries and Game Department, Augusta, Maine.
Maine state avoids stockpiling pheasants. These are currently being stockpiled throughout the State by private weapons clubs.