Promising forecast for pheasant season
All signs point to another promising pheasant season.
Pheasant and quail seasons open Saturday, November 11. The season continues through the end of January.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer Josh Melby said he expects a big influx of hunters for the opening weekend, noting that hunters were out scouting the region for pheasants up to two months ago.
There should be plenty of birds. Melby reports that last spring’s crow count was the second highest on record for northeast Colorado, and hatching conditions have been excellent for the past several years now. The annual count of adult male pheasants dates back to 1954.
“It’s been steadily increasing,” Melby said of the crow count, “and with the spring moisture we had, we had good hatches all over the county.”
“We think the hunting will be as good as last year and quite possibly better,” CPW Small Game Coordinator Ed Gorman said. “There were some areas that were a bit dry, which correlates to lower nest success and brood survival, although on average, populations should be higher than last year. There were also some areas that experienced severe hail storms and bird numbers will likely be lower than normal.”
Pheasants should be most numerous in northeast and east central Colorado and populations have recovered well since the severe drought in 2012 and 2013. In the northeast, Yuma, Phillips, Sedgwick and Logan counties will be best for pheasants, and in east central Colorado, hunters should consider southern Yuma County and Kit Carson County.
Hunters should have plenty of accessible hunting land. Parks and Recreation’s Walk-in Access program has approixmately 23,000 acres signed up just in Yuma County. One can access the maps online at cpw.state.co.us. Melby said he also will have some available at the small game licensing locations in the area.
One drawback is corn harvest is late this year. It has mostly been completed in recent years by the time pheasant season begins, but is only about half-way done this year. That means there will be harvest traffic on the county roads. Hunters are reminded to stay out of fields with standing corn, and keep parked vehicles off the roads so as not block harvest traffic.
Local hotels report being solidly booked for the opening weekend, which is always the case. Other businesses also benefit from the influx of hunters, boosting the local economy.
The Yuma County Pheasants Forever Oyster Fry & Auction will be held Saturday night at the Irrigation Research Foundation site north of Yuma beginning at 5 p.m. Dinner starts at 5:30, and the auction at 7.