Loir-et-Cher, the department where the pheasant is king (2nd part) – The French hunter

A pioneer in the management of the common pheasant, the Loir-et-Cher hunting federation (FDC 41) has achieved remarkable results, including in habitats hitherto considered unfavorable to the species. A great success that can be exported elsewhere, provided that the protocol put in place by its technical department is respected. Pascal Durantel’s file.

The great success of the Gratteloup GIASC

In April 2003, 463 singing roosters were counted. Just imagine: we have gone from 33 to almost 500 singing roosters in three years! And there, surprise: while the GIASC hunters were entitled to their first hunting plan the following autumn, they refused, preferring to wait until the following year and the result of a last count of crowing roosters without letting go beforehand. “There, I said to myself that it was won, enthuses Guy Pindon. By making this request, the hunters appropriated the birds. It had become theirs, of which we could be certain that they would always see to good health. In the spring of 2004, 541 roosters were counted, this time without releasing them first. The operation being therefore crowned with success, the first allocations were granted for the autumn of 2004: 383, which increased to 399 in 2005 for 598 roosters and to 549 for 625 roosters in 2010. Finally, 672 roosters were counted in 2022.

In the Loir-et-Cher, pheasant hunting only opens on the second Sunday of October, and not on the fourth Sunday of September as is the case for other small plain game, and this for ethical reasons: a pheasant is only fully grown and able to fly when it is 16 weeks old, and at the end of September, 70% of the birds cannot be hunted. The FDC 41 does not impose the non-shooting of hens. It is true that in practice, hunters prefer to take roosters, which represent on average two thirds of the table.

Loir et Cher the department where the pheasant is king 2nd part

Innovative management

Pheasant management in the Loir-et-Cher is innovative in more ways than one. Thus, the hunting plan includes bonuses highlighted in the allocation grid, which not only takes into account the number of crowing roosters counted in the spring and the reproduction index for the year estimated in August, but also facilities put in place in the area. Non-compulsory work (it is a question of rewarding, not punishing!), but which, when they exist, make it possible to obtain more birds in the hunting plan, sometimes even to double the allocations (see graph below above) .

Today, the average density of pheasants in the Loir-et-Cher is 8 pairs per 100 ha. And the most beautiful populations are not necessarily where you think, namely in the beautiful bocage landscapes of the Perche, for example. Thus, the parts of Beauceron cereal plains often claim higher numbers, and this, without a significant presence of water or hedges. Like what, the example of this pilot department in terms of management of the common pheasant breaks many received ideas. That said, all this did not happen in a day and required hindsight, tempers Guy Pindon. Initially, 8 out of 10 repopulation operations organized in France were failures. Things changed radically when the technical service of the FDC 41, on the advice of Pierre Mayot, used birds from wild strains released massively, at the rate of 20 per 100 ha on territories which lent themselves to it, comprising at least 50 % straw cereals.

1673779799 498 Loir et Cher the department where the pheasant is king 2nd part

Today, and by dispensing with shooting birds, the hunters of Loir-et-Cher are also preparing for the future, and the day when we will no doubt be banned from this practice. In addition, Guy Pindon welcomes, the good health of the pheasant in the department has revitalized the hunting of small game… We want as proof of this this new craze for the pointing dog, without which it is perfectly illusory to hope shooting a real natural cock!

Pascal Durantel

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Loir-et-Cher, the department where the pheasant is king (2nd part) – The French hunter