Bob Oak Pheasant Farm Feeders

Most people are unaware, as was I, that the Bob Oak Game Farm in Centralia raises pheasants, lots of pheasants. That farm is run by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. It raises about 50,000 pheasants each year to be released throughout the state at various game release sites. Eggs are gathered twice a day at the farm for a week or more, and then placed in placed in the incubators as soon as enough eggs at gathered to fill the incubators.  There are about 3000 eggs in the incubator at a time with a new hatch occurring about every ten days after the initial batch. Once they hatch the chicks are put in progressively larger size pens as they grow in size, making room for the next newly hatched chicks. They progress from new hatched chicks to eventually ending up in acres of net covered flight pens.

In February the Pheasant farm in Centralia was devastated during the February snow storm. All of the net pens were on the ground, torn netting, broken support poles and all of the support wires were in ruin. Bill Montgomery, the WDFW Region 6 volunteer coordinator put out an urgent plea for help to get the pens off the ground and back in operation for the onslaught of pheasants that would soon be coming down the hatching pipeline. Over 60 Master Hunter volunteers answered the call and got the pens raised repaired and back in useable condition.

In April, with the Master Hunters list pretty was pretty well worn out. Bill Montgomery started contacting clubs and organizations such as SCI for help. The new urgent need was for help to assemble some bird feeders for their farm. These are not your normal back yard type of bird feeder. These feeders hold 900 pounds of feed and are about five feet tall.

Jim Chaffee got me involved in this project, through the master hunter network. We both ended up bringing several of the feeders home, assembling them two at a time and hauling them down to the farm in our trailers. Each time I hauled two feeders to the farm, I would spend a few hours there putting more of them together and repeat the process. It was soon obvious that the 15 or so we had put together by hauling them home in pieces and then back to Centralia two at a time was never going to make a dent in the 100 or so feeder that the farm needed. At our April 12th chapter board meeting Jim organized a date for an all day work party.

On May 6th, Jim Chaffee, Del Berg, a friend of Jim’s and I met at the farm with tools in hand and started two man bird feeder assembly teams. By the end of the day we had put together an amazing 25 of those feeders. Chris White, director of the farm and the crew at the farm were not only very appreciative of our labors, but dually impressed! We had at the least made a sizable dent in the job that needed to be accomplished.

Jim Montgomery put out a second and final plea for help from his list of master hunters and any SCI chapter volunteers on June 22. The first hatch of birds was already in the flight pens and thousands more were in the wings, no pun intended! This was a very short four day request notice, for a weekday work party on June 27th.  This time Jim Chaffee, Mike Price, Brian Wissner and I from the NW Chapter, along with four Master Hunters showed up ready to work. In spite of the very hot day, we all stuck to the job and manage to assemble the remaining 51 feeders.

Once again Chris White and the workers at the farm were very impressed with the amount of work that we gat accomplished on that day. We were a little impressed ourselves! It is very gratifying to do a job and do it well. It is even more gratifying when that job is so greatly appreciated. See the comments below from Chris and Bill of the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

 

Quote from Chris White, DFW Director of the Game Farm.

I wanted to thank you for coordinating and volunteering for the feeder build on June 27, 2017.  You were able to build 51 large range feeders.  These feeders are very labor intensive to construct however once placed in the field they take half the manpower to maintain due to the large capacity, also they have a custom feed pan that decreases feed wastage.  The Western Washington program will see decreased costs in both labor and feed usage thanks to the hard work of all who helped.  I am sorry that I do not have everyone’s e-mail so if you and others could forward this message I would appreciate it.

Quote from Bill Montgomery, DFW Hunter Education Coordinator for Region 6:

Great Job by all! I always argue with the other Regional Volunteer Coordinators, over whose has the best Volunteers, and you guys make my argument for me. It’s great to see MH who take the program to heart, not needing the hours but helping out anyway. Again I want to thank everyone who helped, especially the SCI group for coordinating the work.

By Gary Tennison

Past President SCI Northwest

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