The cold, snowy, and lingering winter we’ve had across the state has many citizens concerned about game birds such as pheasants, grouse, and partridge. Although these species are well adapted to make it through even tough winters, there is something landowners can do to help birds next winter- plant a food plot!
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has two options to help landowners establish food plots for game birds: standing grain plots and NEW diverse seed mixes.
Standing grain plots: For standing grain plots, FWP will pay landowners $150 per acre to help offset the costs of seeding. Standing grain plots are most suitable if landowners have odd field corners or edges of crop fields near dense winter cover that they can leave unharvested.
Diverse seed mixes: With our new seed mixes, the FWP is offering free bags of seed that will cover up to 5 acres, and landowners who plant the mixes will still receive the $150 per acre to offset planting costs.
FWP encourages landowners to try out the new free seed mixes. They are designed to provide critical brood-rearing cover for game bird chicks in summer, and they contain tall, stiff plants like sorghum and sunflowers that can stand up to snow and provide easily accessible food all winter long.
Whether planting one of the new mixes or leaving standing grain, all plots need to be located within ¼ mile of dense winter cover such as a brushy draw, shelterbelts, or a cattail wetland. In return for seed and payments, landowners must sign a written agreement to leave the plots standing until the following spring, and to allow some public access for upland game bird hunting in the fall. If you are interested in planting food plots for wildlife this spring, please contact Region 6 FWP Game Bird Specialist Ken Plourde at 406-474-2244 before May 1.