“Many areas of California experienced 200% of average annual precipitation last winter,” says Matt Meshriy, Environmental Scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Upland Game Program. “That effectively ended five consecutive years of drought conditions in the state. All that rainfall benefited pheasant habitat for spring cover, which also benefits foraging and brood rearing. The rainfall also ensures that water transfers to agricultural growing areas around the state will be greatly improved over 2016-17.”
“Spring conditions were favorable for nesting and brood rearing,” he adds. “Temperatures were seasonal to mild, and intermittent rain events persisted late -- well into April and May.”
“While the pheasant hatch in California may be somewhat limited by low population densities, habitat conditions are much improved from last year, and brood success rates are expected to be much higher than that of 2016-17,” says Meshriy.
For hunters starting to plan for fall 2017, Meshriy offers some additional insights: “The Great California Valley has traditionally been tops for pheasants. But in recent years, some of the best pheasant hunting in our state has been near the California/Oregon border as populations on and adjacent to the Klamath National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) have been stable to expanding."
Tom Carpenter is Digital Content Manager at Pheasants Forever.