While many upland bird seasons throughout the nation have come to a close, several Great Plains states offer pheasant hunting opportunities through the end of January.
“The core pheasant hunting region in Colorado has experienced significant snow cover this year, a rarity for us since the winter of 2007,” commented Ed Gorman, small game manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Snow that fell in December across the northeast plains was very wet and heavy, reducing the value of some cover types significantly as they were unable to remain standing against the wind-driven snow. Presently, snow cover has started to develop a firm crust which can make for tough hunting.
Southern Yuma County has been the focal area of some very good hunter reports. However, this area has been under heavy hunting pressure since the beginning of pheasant season. “Hunter success has been close to what our season outlook predicted in early fall,” said Gorman. “Looking back at the season, I would say it has been slightly better than I expected, although some areas have proven to be very slow to recover from the severe drought. This year has been an improvement over the last two seasons, but more habitat is needed for a full recovery.” Pheasant season closes: January 31.
Cold weather through early January helped bunch up birds in heavy cover, however, recent weather patterns creating much warmer conditions may produce tough hunting for late-season birds, reports Jeff Prendergast, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism small-game biologist. Prendergast says the north-central portion of the state has been the most productive for pheasant hunters, but there have been anecdotal reports of better conditions than expected across the other regions of the state. Pheasant season closes: January 31.
“Weather has been moderate overall with some areas of the state seeing good snowfall and cold temperatures,” reports Jeffrey Lusk, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s upland game program manager, “With temperatures now on the rise, it appears that the Panhandle and southwest Nebraska continue to be areas of good opportunity for hunters.” There is limited public land availability in the Panhandle region, but if access can be gained to private areas, hunters should expect to have a fair amount of success in the field. Pheasant and quail numbers across the state have been close to what was predicted by initial roadside surveys in the fall of 2014. Pheasant season closes: January 31.
While there have been a few more roosters flushing in northwest Oklahoma this season, the ringneck rebound hasn’t matched the state’s uptick in bobwhite quail numbers, says Scott Cox, upland game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Those quail reports have been good-to-excellent, so a focus on quail hunting with the prospect of a bonus rooster is probably the best mode of operation. Pheasant season closes: January 31
Photo courtesy of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission