Pheasant hunters will have to pay extra this year for the privilege to hunt roosters in Eastern Washington.
Many will wonder, after trying to find the wildest and most elusive of upland birds, whether the investment was worth it.
The only bright spot in Eastern Washington is in the southeast corner. Biologist believe hunters will have good shooting in Columbia, Garfield and Walla Walla counties, and, perhaps, in south Whitman County.
Hunters will have to work hard for a few shots at roosters in the Columbia Basin and in the Yakima region.
In some areas, though, quail hunting will be terrific. To hunt upland birds, hunters must have a $10 upland bird permit. Persons who hunt pheasants in Eastern Washington must buy the additional new $10 pheasant enhancement stamp.
The law authorizing the stamp, passed by the Washington Legislature, requires 80 percent of the funds raised to go toward releasing pen-raised pheasants. Eastern Washington hunters must buy the stamp regardless of whether they hunt areas where roosters will be released.
Biologists reported that a high carryover of broodstock pheasants and good nesting conditions in southeast Washington resulted in a slight increase in the number of birds.
As many hunters remember, the best pheasant hunting in the state last year was in the southeast counties.
Pheasant populations in the north part of the Spokane region won’t be large enough for sustained hunting. To those who like to hunt in the Columbia Basin, the news is gloomy.
Biologists reported that brood surveys recently showed a 45 percent decline compared to last year and a 40 percent drop in the number of chicks.
Once again, it seems, the once-productive Basin will not be a good place to hunt pheasants.
Pheasant numbers dropped dramatically this year in the Yakima region, biologists said. Heavy snow reduced adult numbers and spring rains during the hatch period resulted in high mortality among broods.
Generally, nesting in areas nearest the Columbia River wasn’t affected as much as in Yakima County. Public hunting access is available in the lower Yakima Valley and along the Yakima River.
Quail hunters won’t find as many birds this fall as they did during the years of big populations in the 1970s, but there are places in Eastern Washington where hunters will have excellent shooting.
Fowler reported that brood sizes this year in southeastern Washington were eight to nine birds. He predicted excellent hunting along streams where there is good cover and along brushy draws.
“Brushy areas along the Walla Walla, Touchet and Tucannon rivers and Asotin Creek should be especially good,” he said.
Quail didn’t do as well in the Basin as those in southeast Washington during the nesting season. Biologists said that brood numbers dropped 11 percent in Okanogan County, 30 percent in Douglas County and 23 percent in Adams County.
“Very young broods observed just recently may not have been detected along traditional routes” they said in a forecast, “so the decline may not be as great as the numbers indicate.”
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Pheasants to be released About 13,000 pheasant roosters will be released in Eastern Washington this fall under the state’s new “pheasant enhancement” program. The program was mandated by the Washington Legislature with passage of a bill promoted by Sen. Bob Oke, R-Port Orchard. The law requires all sportsmen pursuing pheasants in Eastern Washington to have a $10 pheasant enhancement stamp in addition to their state hunting license and upland bird permit. Under the law, 20 percent of the money raised by the enhancement stamp is earmarked for pheasant habitat restoration. However, 80 percent of the funds must be spent on releasing birds into suitable habitat open to public hunting. This year, the birds, purchased at a cost of $10 to $15 per cock, will be released as follows: Spokane region: Sherman Creek Wildlife Recreation Area, Bureau of Land Management property in Lincoln County, state Fish and Wildlife Department Olsen-Dodd property near Hawk Creek in Lincoln County, and habitat sites along the Snake River. Columbia Basin: Gloyd Seeps Wildlife Recreation Area, Winchester Lake area, Buckshot Ranch west of Mattawa, Block 74 Unit 40 between Ephrata and Quincy, Steamboat Rock/Million Dollar Mile east of Banks Lake; White Bluffs Lake southwest of Othello and Linda Lake south of Othello, Driscoll Island south of Oroville.
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