BRILLION - An estimated 50,000 pheasant hunters are expected to take to the field for the upcoming season, and when they do, they may have a good chance at shooting down a bird.
The Department of Natural Resources and conservation clubs have thousands of birds ready to go statewide.
At the Sanger B. Powers Correctional Center in Oneida, inmates raise 2,700 pheasants for the Department of Natural Resources. 280 hand-picked roosters were ready to go Friday.
"The birds do look really good this year. Really nice. Long tail feathers. Good color. They're matured really well," said Josh Jackl, DNR wildlife technician.
The DNR says the birds are part of a statewide initiative to release 75,000 pheasants. That's up from 54,000 a year ago.
"We're want hunters to have a chance at success and also to open up new properties to pheasant hunting, at least to pheasant stocking that hasn't been previously," said Jackl.
92 public and private properties will be stocked including 22 new sites.
Crews released the pheasants Friday morning at the Brillion State Wildlife Area, and Killsnake State Wildlife Areas in Calumet County.
"We release at various different locations on each one of the properties. We go by a spread sheet and a certain number of birds go in a certain location," said Jackl.
Stocking pheasants is sort of like stacking the deck. The Ox Bow Sportsmen's Club has been contributing to the effort.
"We released about 90 birds this week. We raise about 800 pheasants each year, through the day old chick program through the state of Wisconsin, and then we do scheduled releases along with the state," said Teri Roehrig, Ox Bow Sportsmen's Club.
The DNR's day old chick program gives local conservation groups young pheasants to raise and later release.
"It's awesome. It gives a lot of people the opportunity to get out there in the field, and enjoy it with their dogs, and they'll have fun with their friends in the wild," said Roehrig.
The season opens Saturday at noon and runs through the end of the year.
The DNR plans to continue to stock pheasants a couple times a week, until the gun deer season begins the weekend before Thanksgiving.
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