Pheasant Hunting Program

Fall 2020

2020 Release Sites

Pheasant in a field

Thanks to the continued support of pheasant hunters from Maine and elsewhere, MDIFW, in cooperation with members of several dedicated Fish and Game Clubs, will stock about 2,000 pheasants at 20 sites in York and Cumberland Counties. This program would not exist without the many generous landowners that agree to provide release sites and share their property with pheasant hunters every fall. We do lose sites as land is sold or developed, but outreach to new landowners sometimes leads to new release sites. 

Pheasant Hunting in Maine

This year’s pheasant season runs from September 26 – December 31. There is a daily bag limit of 2 birds, either sex. Hunters must purchase a pheasant permit in addition to their regular hunting license and are permitted two birds a day, of either sex. The cost of the pheasant permit is $19 and is available online or from licensing agents across the state. The pheasant program is funded through proceeds from the sale of the pheasant permits.

There are no changes to the stocking list this year. Biologists and volunteers from regional fish and game clubs worked hard to meet with all cooperating landowners who open their land to pheasant hunting and secure permissions for the 2020 season. These landowners are gracious to welcome hunters and they play a pivotal role in the success of the continued success of the pheasant program. Based on conversations with these landowners there are two problems associated with a small number of hunters that do cause concern: discharging a firearm too close to their house and hunters leaving empty shotgun shells in the field. Hunters must be at least 100 yards from a house to discharge their gun and must do so in consideration of what is downrange of where they shoot. These sites are large enough so that this should not be a problem. Leaving spent shells is littering and must stop. If landowners back out of the pheasant program, there will be no place to release birds. It is very difficult to secure permission for new sites in a developing part of the state. Be a good, responsible, safe and respectful hunter.

Pheasant Stocking in Maine

Pheasants are not native to the United States but have been successfully introduced in several states and have thrived in many environments such as Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and the Dakotas as well as others. This bird was first stocked in Maine by MDIFW in 1930. Pheasants have not established a breeding population in Maine due to several limiting factors, most notably, predation, occasional harsh winters and a scarcity of standing grain crops for winter forage. It is likely that some stocked birds overwinter at several sites and reproduction in the wild has occasionally been documented.

Pheasants are a particularly good game bird to hunt with dogs because despite the fact they prefer to run from predators including hunters, they will at times hold tight.  When they eventually explode from heavy cover with their unique cackle and a thunderous wing beat they can startle unprepared hunters and dogs. Many times a bird has escaped without a shot being fired while the hunter recovers his or her composure. They are also a good bird to start young hunters on because they will eventually hold and can be a larger and more predictable target for new shooters than the fast and erratic flying woodcock or partridge.

The permits will cost $19 again this year but a rise in program costs and a desire to improve hunt quality through additional stocking may dictate a rise in the near future. With prices at local shooting preserves exceeding $30 per pheasant released (not necessarily harvested!) the pheasant permit is considered a very good value for the hunter. The pheasant program is funded through proceeds from the sale of the pheasant stamp. Hunters can help promote the pheasant hunting in Maine by talking up the program with their friends and encouraging them to buy a permit. Participation and support from the partnering Fish & Game Clubs has been vital since the program’s inception. Special thanks to members of Windham/Gorham Rod and Gun Club, Kezar Falls Rod and Gun Club, South Berwick Rod and Gun Club, York Fish and Game Club and Falmouth Fish and Game Club.

2020 Stocking Dates

This year, three stocking events will take place on or about the following days; Thursday September 24, Sunday October 4, and Sunday, October 18.

Landowner permission has been provided to pheasant hunters by those who own these properties. Most sites will receive about 30 birds at each stocking. Those sites in the Berwicks and Wells will be stocked on Fridays throughout the season by members of South Berwick Rod and Gun Club. These sites will receive fewer birds per stocking, but they will be stocked more frequently. Look for the yellow “pheasant release site” signs to identify the site and as part of our efforts to show respect for the landowners, observe the green “no vehicles beyond this point” signs.

Dog trainers are discouraged from training their dogs at the release sites after they are stocked to avoid scattering the birds off the sites. Have a good, safe season and thanks for your continued support of this program.

For more information, contact:

Scott Lindsay
Regional Wildlife Biologist
MDIFW
358 Shaker Rd.
Gray, ME 04039
Phone: 207-287-2345
Email: scott.lindsay@maine.gov

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2020 Release Sites

The following sites are stocked from Cabelas, Scarborough. ETA 9:00 a.m.

The following sites are stocked from MTA Maintenance Garage – York ETA 8:00 a.m.

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