Wyoming’s pheasants have taken some punches, but numbers should hold close to last year
By Andy Fondrick
Wyoming’s pheasants have taken some punches since last season, but early indications are that numbers should hold close to a year ago. Martin Hicks, wildlife biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, indicates hunters again may need to pay close attention to stocking plans to find success this fall.
Weather and Conditions
What started out as a mild winter took a hard turn in March when the state was hit with record snow levels.
“We undoubtedly lost some birds during the storm, but conditions improved in a short duration, so mortalities were not as high as if it hit in December,” says Hicks.
Luckily, harsh weather in March was followed by more favorable spring conditions that provided decent moisture and no major hail events. Although much of the state is still recovering from the drought that hit the area last summer, Hicks mentions that Southeast Wyoming is a bright spot for upland birds where they experienced significantly more favorable conditions than the rest of the state.
Habitat, Broods and Counts
According to Hicks, hatches should be similar to past years. However, wild birds are still well below levels observed in the late 90's.
“CRP was in decent condition,” says Hicks. “However, it’s still decadent, monocultures so it’s not the quality it was back in the 1990's, but it at least grew this summer.”
Hicks adds that crow counts were similar to the past years, which are significantly down compared to the past few decades.
When it comes to hunting pheasants in Wyoming, Hicks suggests hitting areas where birds have been stocked.
“The best hunting spots are areas where the WGFD stocks pheasants,” says Hicks. “We stock Goshen County Walk in Areas, as well as the Springer Wildlife Habitat Management Area where we have a managed hunt from October 14-31, then it opens during the general hunt from November 1-12.”
Hicks suggests logging on to the Wyoming Game and Fish Website to check out follow the WGFD stocking plans
if you’re interested in a few planted birds. These reports should be available by mid-October.