Nowadays, small game do not have an easy life. Despite our many efforts at the last few decades, we notice a drastic decline in the population of species such as pheasants, partridges or hares.
Each hunter is able to give at least one reason for such changes. Some will say it is because of fox, others will say there is lack of clump of shrubs, others will say other raptors and hawking birds It is true that there are many reasons and specialists are talking about so-called multifactorial causes.
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We are dealing both with the progressive development of civilization, urbanization of the rural area, the development of mechanization, and the massive use of plant protection products called pesticides. Changes to the ways of doing the agricultural cultivation. The three-field system or the crop rotation is used only in history lessons in school. Field roads disappearing, balk lines are plowed ditches are mowed, windbreaks disappear, and instead of having more mid field bushes or shrubs, we can see them disappearing. The mosaic of fields and meadows has replaced by large-area crops.
To top it all, we should add a huge pressure of fox which has lost one of the biggest enemies which was rabies. Anyway, the problem is not just a fox, because there are more eager for the meat of small game. Polecats, martens, mink, shed, hawks, buzzards, ravens, stray dogs or cats.
All this has a negative impact on the condition of small game, which is not so much a problem with rebuilding the population as even with maintaining the current state. Fortunately, there are many hunting clubs that thanks to the introduction, reintroduction and good management are able to succeed in maintaining and expanding the population and thus be able to even perform hunting.
What is behind their success? Many will say the right hunting management, but what is it characterized by?
First, the right place. The mid-field bushes combined with wasteland and even our hunting plots are an ideal habitat for the preservation of small game.
But even the largest reintroduction will not help if we have a large amount of predator in the hunting unit, unless we care about feeding foxes.
However, the reduction itself is not everything. We need to improve the living conditions of the small game, providing it with access not only to shelter but also food, which may later result in spring breeding.
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The autumn-winter feeding of pheasants was one of the topics of my last part of the cycle “Apprenticeship with an idea“. We have November, but it is true that we should start feeding the small game much sooner. What should appear as a diet of our pheasants or partridges – especially grains such as wheat, oats, corn or even hemp. Such a mix mixed with chaff and gravel should satisfy their hunger and ensure proper digestion. As it is commonly known, galliformes eats gravel and small stones for digesting food. Water is also important, which will be lacking in the coming winter months. Can we deliver it somehow? Yes – just put fodder or sugar beets, cabbage or carrots next to feeders. One cabbage and a kilogram of carrots does not cost a lot, and can significantly improve the winter condition of small game. Regularity in refilling feeders are very important.
You can also hang salt salt branches for the hare Next to the feeders.
Let’s remember about small animals this autumn and winter. The introduction itself will not work without the proper quality and quantity of food, the right place and the reduction of predators. Good management of the hunting ground and population will result in not only a beautiful view of small game on the fields but also a delicious broth, pate or roast.