Using Game Bird Attractants

9. November 2012 15:37

With the shooting season started, losing pheasants and other game birds to neighbouring grounds can be infuriating for any gamekeeper. To keep birds, and attract new ones, game bird attractants are the best bet for keeping numbers consistent throughout the season. Game bird attractants have always been an important part of gamekeeping with most recipes being a closely guarded secret and passed from one generation to the next.

Deriving from the anise plant, aniseed provides some of the best results when attracting game birds. With its pungent smell and liquorice-like flavour, commonly used in drinks and dishes around the Mediterranean, pheasants go wild for it with its scent attracting them from far afield. Donald used an aniseed based product on an area he’d only ever seen 3 cock pheasants and was surprised by the results it yielded.

“It worked very well; I mixed some aniseed in with some regular feed and spread it over the patch of ground where I'd seen a few before. I hoped to attract more birds to the area and by the next day their numbers had tripled! More and more showed up over the next week or so. They got quite excited by the aniseed in the feed.”

Solway Feeders produces and sells a range of Solway Game Master brand aniseed oil based products specifically designed for the attraction of pheasants, among others birds. Starting at 100ml of concentrated oil up to 5 litres of mixed solution; aniseed oil can be mixed into food, with 1 litre doing up to a tonne of feed, to keep game birds coming back. Some choose to mix 1 litre of aniseed oil with 5 litres of vegetable oil to make it last even longer and without losing its effectiveness. We also supply Gamekeep Bird Puller; a secret blend of herbs and spices with proven success globally.

While these work well as an attractant, they are not a food substitute and should always be mixed with feed. Due to both its price and high level of performance, many find these to be a very cost effective way of keeping flocks well stocked.

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Game Attractants | Game Birds

Releasing the Pheasants

11. September 2011 16:19

The new pheasants arrived in a game crate and inspected their release pen with a critical eye.

Now that we're in to September, the date for releasing pheasants is almost past. After all the work that went into building our release pen in June, it seemed only right that we should get hold of some more pheasant poults and put them down on the hill. Sure enough, a crate of fifteen pheasants arrived on thursday last week, and we released them into their new home with hardly a hitch.

The first batch of pheasants has been in the pen for almost two weeks, and it turned out that it is not easy to mix two groups of pheasants. The resident group were more than a little put out to have to share their quarters with the incomers, and during the first hour of their arrival, there were more than a few squabbles. The established birds had found all the best places to keep warm and dry, so as the first night crept in and the rain started to fall, the newcomers were forced to sit out in the open areas of the pen. After a couple of days, they seemed to resolve their differences and the division between old pheasants and new pheasants became harder to notice.

Before releasing the new batch of pheasants, we put a 12mm red leg ring on each bird so that we would be able to tell the difference between them and the old birds, and it's interesting to see that already, wild birds are starting to visit the pen and confuse things. All of the pheasants are still feeding on grower pellets, but over the next few days, they will switch to a diet made up exclusively of wheat. A wheat diet is not only good for the pheasants, but it also supports a wide variety of songbirds throughout the winter, precisely when they need it the most.

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Game Birds

Wing Clipping

31. August 2011 12:06


Clipping a pheasant's wings is painless and serves an important purpose.

 

Before the pheasant poults went out to their pen last week, it was important to clip their wings. Since it doesn't have a roof, the theory is that the pheasants will be able to fly out of the pen once they are ready to do so, but  they do need a certain amount of training before this can happen. They need to learn that the pen is a safe and comfortable environment which is always worth returning to. Releasing them into the pen without their wings having been clipped would mean that they could just fly straight out, feeling no allegiance to the pen and losing themselves in the wilderness. Wing clipping is an easy and temporary way of keeping the poults together inside the pen for about two weeks, after which stage they will be able to leave with the understanding that the pen is where they will be fed.

At seven or eight weeks old, pheasant poults will have developed some flight feathers, but these are soon to be moulted out into adult feathers. By clipping the juvenile primary flight feathers on one side, any attempt by the bird to fly will result in little more than a toppling motion as one wing out-powers the other. Within a fortnight, the adult flight feathers will have grown sufficiently to allow flight, and the process of wing clipping will have achieved its end. Painless, straightforward and temporary, clipping a pheasant's wings may be slightly annoying for the bird, but it is surely for the best in the long run.

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Game Birds

Fox Proofing a Release Pen

18. August 2011 16:17

An electric fence outside our strategically positioned release pen netting should keep the fox at bay.

Releasing pheasants into the wild always brings with it a whole variety of concerns and problems. Young birds cheep constantly to one another, and this sound is like music to the ears of any passing fox. Needless to say, thousands of pheasants must come to grief in the mouths of foxes every year, and it is the duty of the gamekeeper to defend his birds as well as he can.

Release pens need to be extremely secure, and in order to house our pheasants this year, we built a pen using a variety of materials. Galvanised chicken mesh forms the foundation of the pen wall, being strong and flexible. Folding the mesh up from the ground creates an overlap which prevents foxes from digging in at the base, and if you have access to sufficient quantities of mesh, you can afford to be generous with how much overlap you leave. We left just under half of a four foot high sheet of mesh pressed to the ground so that any passing fox would have real difficulty getting through or under it. 

In the weaker areas, we laid logs on the mesh so that it was pinned to the ground by the weight, and this should dissuade foxes from even trying to dig in.

The actual walls are made out of reinforced plastic release pen netting, which is extremely strong and durable. It's important to remember that the walls should not be too tight or the mesh too taut when building a release pen, because while a tight wall looks good, it can provide support for a fox who is willing to try and climb over it. A floppy wall will sag back and forth if a fox tries to climb it, and this will give him trouble.

We sell a variety of different electric fencing products, and it seemed sensible to build an electric fence around the base of the pen. Using Pigtail outriggers of various sizes and lengths means that you can build a fence with electric wires at different heights and distances from the wall of the pen. This means that any fox trying to get through the fence will struggle to avoid touching the wires as he does so, causing a severe electric shock and teaching him not come back.

After a great deal of preparation, the pen is almost ready. The pheasants will be clipped and put down tomorrow, so we all have fingers crossed...

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Game Birds