Posts tagged: pheasants
HUNTING — Eastern Washington's pheasant season ended Sunday in a weekend of winds gusting to 70 mph at the top of the 49 Degrees North ski area where they toppled a cell phone tower.
I figured I had a better shot at chukars in the Snake River canyon where I could loop into bowls out of the wind.
Indeed, I found some pleasant hunting interspersed with high-wind exposure as I hiked around basalt bands on the ridges.
But I was surprised that in 4.5 hours of covering a lot of ground, my English setter, Scout, found only two coveys of chukars. The dog locked up solid 80 yards away from the first cover as the strong winds telegraphed their scent to his nose. But the covey flushed wild as I approached, caught the wind, and appeared to be setting wings for a wind-assisted flight to Montana.
The other covey cooperated in making my hunt successful.
But that was it. I covered some great private land where I've hunted with permission numerous times and never have found fewer than three coveys.
So now I'm wondering: Should I have been hunting the highest slopes that were open to the high winds? Is that where the chukars were hanging out?
The hunting season for partridge and quail runs through Jan. 20.
HUNTING — Luckily, I could pass the time this morning listening to the last of the NPR Sunday morning news program as I waited for the fog to lift, but my dog was more than anxious to get out.
When I finally had couple hundred yards of visibility over the Palouse, I put my English setter, Scout, on the ground and we swept through the frosty landscape trying to get the most out of the late phase of the pheasant hunting season.
Tip: Go for gentle terrain. Since last weekend, the slopes have been coated with thin snow or ice, making steep hills treacherous for walking, especially side-hilling. I aborted a chukar hunt last Sunday for fear of killing myself, and things haven't improved too much.
HUNTING — A few birds may still be hanging on at hunting sites for the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement and Release Program.
The final release of farm-raised rooster pheasants was made a last week, just before Thanksgiving at sites near Fishtrap Lake, Sherman Creek Wildlife Area, Snake River and 20 other areas in the region.
Despite the non-toxic shot requirement enacted in 2011, these release public land sites have continued to be popular since the program began in the late 1990s. It's especially popular with hunters who don’t have access to hunt private land.
The first releases of the year occurred at all sites before the Sept. 21-22 youth upland bird season. Two additional releases were scheduled at the sites during the general pheasant season.
Only about half the sites were stocked with birds for the Oct. 19 opener, said Joey McCanna, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist. The other sites were stocked the following week, he said.
The agency does not divulge which sites will be stocked when.
This bit of chance and inconvenience dates back to the bad experiences agency staff had years ago when hunters often waited at designated sites for the game farm trucks to show up. In some cases, greedy hunters created dangerous situations, sometimes even blasting away as the birds were being released.
Times have changed in other ways since the early years of the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program, when the Washington Legislature required 80 percent of the funding to be spent on releasing birds while the rest was earmarked for pheasant habitat efforts.
In 2008, about $270,000 was spent to release birds on the East Side and about $32,000 went to habitat.
That year, with legislative approval, Washington Fish and Wildlife managers approved a phased-in schedule to reduce the number of birds planted until the spending equaled about 50 percent for birds and 50 percent for habitat.
“We’re right about there this year,” McCanna said, noting that 11,350 rooster pheasants were released at the sites this year. That’s down from 11,820 last year and down from more than 20,000 birds in the initial years.
Hunter groups have supported the department’s emphasis on working with farmers to enhance habitat for wild pheasants. Methods include developing plantings that improve pheasant productivity on lands seeded into the federal Conservation Reserve Program.
HUNTING — While hunting pheasants on Sunday, this is how my English setter, Scout, defined the idiom, “Got 'em dead to rights.”
HUNTING — My English setter, Scout, had six consecutive points on hens, then one solid find on a solo rooster.
Stir-fry dinner coming up.
HUNTING — Robert Estuar and his 11 year-old son, Tomas, took a gamble on whether roosters would be stocked at the Fishtrap release site for Saturday's opening of the Eastern Washington pheasant season.
But they found birds and made the best of the day with their yellow Lab, Bella.
Many hunters get all excited about opening days — forest grouse and mourning doves open Sunday.
But the best and safest hunting for a bird dog is later in the seasons, when the field is cooler, damper and there's been more opportunity to get in tip-top shape after the dog days of summer.
HUNTING — I don't want to jinx the odds, but a lot of upland bird hunters are noticing this is the driest weather we've had in several years for the peak period of the wild quail, chukar and pheasant hatching season.
Upland bird chicks are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia if cool, wet weather persists in early June.
Last year's season was boosted by a good second hatch of birds.
This could be the year the first hatch blossoms.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Mating season is in full bloom around the region, and rooster pheasants are dressed to kill.
Check out the colors this cock displayed Wednesday for the lens of by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.
WILDLIFE–The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council once again will be distributing pheasant chicks to people who have facilities to raise 25 or more birds for around six weeks before releasing them into the wild.
The council provides the day-old birds in lots of 25 and charge a fee to cover costs:
Starter feed is available, 50 pounds for $20.
The first shipment will be April 23 and continue every Tuesday until orders are filled, said program coordinator Larry Carey.
Reserve chicks in advance: 328-6429. Pickup will be at the council office, 6116 N. Market.
BIRD HUNTING — Upland bird hunters should be aware that the Eastern Washington pheasant season closes Jan. 13 while the season for other upland birds — quail, chukars, Huns — runs through the Martin Luther King holiday and closes on Jan. 21.
Most waterfowl seasons run through Jan. 27.
HUNTING — I took Scout, my English setter, out for two, short, early morning hunts this weekend to celebrate the opening of the quail and partridge seasons. Emphasis on short.
It's simply too dry and warm out there to be working a dog too hard.
In case you missed it in the Sunday Outdoors section, dog trainer Dan Hoke of Dunfur Kennel near Cheney has some excellent early-season tips for hunting with bird dogs.
But I did see enough birds on my short hunts to be optimistic that late hatches produced a decent crop of quail, Huns — and even pheasants. (I saw two young roosters that still weren't feathered out.)
November and December will be prime time.
WILDLIFE — More than 6,400 pheasant chicks have been distributed in the past few weeks to people in the Spokane region who vow to raise and release the birds into the wild.
The annual chick giveaway program is facilitated by the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council.
The chicks are mostly hens, the byproduct of captive rearing programs that raise pheasants for hunter release sites.
HUNTING — Ouch. The first week of June is prime time for the first hatch of pheasant chicks in southeastern Washington. Once again, it's being greeted by rain and cold weather, which is a sentence to death by hypothermia for the young birds.
Quail and pheasants have a built in response to nest again if their first brood fails.
Keep your fingers crossed.
WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY — The one-in-a-million pheasant photo by Coeur d'Alene wildlife photographer Tim Christi sparked some pleasant memories after the S-R published it in the Outdoors section.
I received this letter last week:
“My late husband used to rise earlyl in the morning to surveyhis world before beginning his day. He often encountered a pheasant whom we nicknamed The President.
“My husband and the bird would engage each in his own language regarding who actually belonged on this sunny corn-producing hillside by the river. More often than not, they shared a joy of a new day and the joy of being part of it.
“The President shared his land for several seasons. We knew him by a slightly crippled gait as he nibbled on young corn blades and pecked at the pumpkins.
“We will enjoy the memory via your magnificent picture.”
— Angie Williams, Deer Park, Wash.
HUNTING — Jerry Townsend of Pheasant Valley Shooting Preserve and Sporting Clays near LaCrosse, Wash., is in Sacred Heart Medical Center listed in serious condition after clients found him unconscious by his four-wheeler Saturday, according to Whitman County Sheriff's officials.
See our news story.
UPLAND BIRD HUNTING —Hunters chilled at the thought of what the cool, rainy spring was doing to nesting pheasants and quail in June.
Indeed, the pheasant hatch isn’t anything to crow about, but it’s not as bad as hunters may have feared in some areas.
• In Whitman County, the first hatch for the most part was wiped out, said Joey McCanna, WDFW upland bird specialist. “I have heard good reports of re-nest attempts from landowners harvesting wheat,” he said last week.
• In the Columbia Basin, wildlife biologists are reporting the best pheasant hatch since 2005, McCanna said. “Hunters will need to concentrate on good cover adjacent to food.”
• In the Snake River region of Idaho, Fish and Game Department biologists indicate quail and Hungarian partridge had modest reproductive success and pheasants did better than the did last year, although last year’s hatch was pitiful.
Idaho partridge populations are down slightly from 2010 and long-term averages. Pheasant numbers are up from last year, but still be low the averages.
UPLAND BIRD HUNTING — Hunters chilled at the thought of what the cool, rainy spring was doing to nesting pheasants and quail in June.
Indeed, the hatch isn't anything to crow about, but it's not as bad as hunters may have feared, at least in the Snake River region.
Surveys by Idaho Fish and Game biologists indicate quail and Hungarian partridge had modest reproductive success and pheasants did better than the did last year, although last year's hatch was pitiful.
Idaho partridge populations of both are down slightly from 2010 and long-term averages. Pheasant numbers are up from last year, but still be low the averages.
Read on for details in a story by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune:
HUNTING – Moscow-area youths ages 12-15 can register for a Youth Pheasant Hunting Clinic scheduled Oct. 1 in Genesee.
Shotgun skills will be practiced at the local trap range followed by hunting pheasants on nearby private land.
“This will be a great opportunity to introduce young hunters to the sport of pheasant hunting,” says Jay Roach, North Idaho Chapter President of Pheasants Forever. “The goal is to make hunting a fun priority among all the other activities that vie for a teenager's time.”
Along with hunting pheasants, the youth will learn about wildlife conservation, pheasant ecology, dog handling, and the importance of respecting landowners. Safety, ethics, sportsmanship and the hunting tradition will be given special emphasis.
The free clinic is intended for first-time hunters who have completed a hunter education course and hold a valid 2011 Idaho hunting license. An adult supervisor must accompany each young hunter throughout the clinic.
Advance registration is required and space is limited to 20 youth. Contact the Clearwater Region Fish and Game office, (208) 799-5010.
Sponsors include the Pheasants Forever, Flying B-Ranch, Idaho Fish and Game, Snake River Gun Dog & Sportsmen's Association, and Clearwater Point Dog Club.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The snow that blanketed the region east of Liberty Lake this morning didn't do much to cool the heat of passion underway among game birds.
The mating season is in full swing for wild turkeys, quail and pheasants.
I caught this ringneck pheasant showing off impressive spring colors this morning near Post Falls as he drew attention from potential mates and defended his territory against intrusions from other males.
I hope your weekend goes as well.