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December 06, 2016
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Raising wild gamebirds; A lesson in caretaking

Hundreds of day-old pheasant chicks arrived at Sullivan County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension office from Reynolds Game Farm near Ithaca, NY early in May, where ag educator Michelle Lipari helped distribute them to 4H members and others who will raise them during the summer. The adults will be released in the fall in time for hunting season.
Contributed photos

Dustyn rises at 6 a.m., time enough to tend the pheasants, chickens, ducks and rabbits and make it to the school bus at 7:20. In the evening he repeats the process of making sure they have enough food and water. The Kratzs have a good-sized shed in the backyard equipped with a heat lamp for warmth. When the chicks reach four weeks old, Dystyn will start to leave the shed door open, so the birds can come and go on their own. Dustyn and his dad are still in the process of fortifying the connecting outdoor pen not only to keep out predators, but also with plastic mesh above to keep the birds from flying out the top. They also have put an old Christmas tree in the outdoor pen, so the birds can learn about finding a place to hide or to nest.

The Kratzs, too, hope that some of their birds will survive in the wild—escaping both prey and hunters. “We hope some will stay in our area,” John said. “It would be cool to see a pair running around nearby with little ones.”

[Note: In Sullivan County, pheasant- hunting season runs from October 1 through February 28. Young people with a youth hunting license can hunt on the weekend prior to the season opening—on September 29 and 30.]