An early June greeted by prolonged rain and cool weather appears to have dampened the hopes of pheasant hunters in Washington’s far-Eastern counties for the second consecutive year.
But partridge and the second-nesting of California quail once again are offering hope for wingshooters in Whitman and Lincoln counties as well as farther south.
Although southeastern Washington south of the Snake River may be getting slightly better pheasant reports than other areas, the outlook is not bright.
Pat Fowler, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologist in Walla Walla, said he’s seen few pheasant broods, indicating that birds haven’t multiplied up to par beyond the winter carryover.
The bright spots, he said, are an average number of quail broods and higher than normal production of Hungarian partridge. His hunch is that chukars did at least as well as last year, maybe better.
In Spokane and Whitman counties, prospects look poor, biologists say.
Last year’s grim season will be considered good by this year’s standards, predicted Mike Atamian, biologist for regions south of Spokane.
Joey McCanna, the agency’s Eastern Washington upland game specialist, put this year’s pheasant numbers in perspective by adopting the same pheasant survey methods used in South Dakota. They were applied to far-Eastern Washington’s core pheasant area, which includes Whitman County and the north portions of Garfield, Columbia and Walla Walla counties.
“This year we surveyed a low of .13 birds per mile and a high of 2.7,” he said.
“In South Dakota, the lowest is 1.45 and the high is 17 birds per mile.”