Colorado pheasants have been caught in the severe drought that’s gripped most plains states, so the pheasant population isn’t what it’s been in recent modern-record years (see Colorado pheasant hunting forecast). Still, hunters there – now entering the second week of the season – may find birds in areas of high quality upland habitat. Here are Colorado field reports from a pair of Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Wildlife Biologists:
Northeast Colorado has been suffering through a severe drought. The pheasant broods were exposed to many 100-plus degree days just as they were coming off the nests. The areas that had good residual cover from 2011 were able to produce good numbers of birds, while those with short cover probably lost broods to the heat. Again, it is proven that given good habitat, good numbers of birds can be produced, even under drought conditions.
I hunted with family on family irrigated property over opening weekend north of Sterling and encountered great numbers of birds. Saturday evening on one sprinkler corner, we flushed over 30 hens and several roosters. The cover was mixed patches of 3-4’ kochia, wild sunflowers and switch grass.
- Jerry Miller, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist – Sterling, Colorado
I hunted in the season opening morning in Kit Carson County. With the drought conditions this past spring and summer, vegetation height was much shorter than previous years, and it took a bit more work to find taller grass or forb cover that the birds were in. The morning brought sustained winds of 20-30 mph with gusts of 40 mph, which made finding roosters and making good shoots tough. Hunting strategy had to be shifted to tall grasses and thicker cover (shrub thickets, tail-water pits, and old homesteads). Birds were scattered and there was a definite reduction from previous years’ numbers, but our group still managed a good hunt and harvested 13 roosters by lunch. Something I did notice was we flushed 3 hens to every 1 rooster, a good sign for future pheasant populations.
- Shannon Bowling, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist, Burlington, Colorado
Have you been pheasant hunting in Colorado this year? If so, post your own report in the comments section below.
Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.