DENVER – Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists predict excellent quail hunting in southeast Colorado and good pheasant hunting in northeast Colorado for the 2016-17 seasons. Hunters will see increased habitat and population recovery following the impact of drought a few years ago.
“Pheasant populations across the Eastern Plains of Colorado continue a steady improvement from the severe drought in 2012 and 2013,” said CPW Small Game Coordinator Ed Gorman. “Pheasants will be most numerous in northeast and east central Colorado. Quail populations in the southeast part of Colorado have been buoyed by two seasons of excellent precipitation patterns. Quail populations recover much faster than pheasants generally speaking, so southeast Colorado hunters may want to focus their efforts on quail in 2016.”
In southeast Colorado, the quail hunting is nearly optimal this year. “Where habitat exists, both bobwhite and scaled quail populations have recovered nicely and are likely at their highest population levels since 2006,” Gorman said.
In the northeast part of the state, pheasant hunting shows significant improvement from last season. “Pheasant-call count surveys, which we use as an index of the rooster pheasant population, showed vast improvement over 2015, especially in the northeast,” Gorman said.
In the northeast, Yuma, Phillips, Sedgwick and Logan counties will be best for pheasants and in east central Colorado, hunters should consider southern Yuma County and Kit Carson County.
Gorman’s forecast also indicates the pheasant population still has not recovered from previous heavy drought in Baca and Prowers counties in extreme southeast Colorado. Hunters should find fair numbers of pheasants where there is good habitat in southeast Colorado, although populations are very spot-specific. Heavy cover will likely limit the bobwhite quail hunting success around the South Platte River in Washington, Logan and Sedgwick counties, and on the east side of Morgan County.
CPW provides the following tips for Colorado pheasant and quail hunters:
Hunting on private land requires permission. With the exception of land enrolled in Walk-In Access, you must obtain permission to hunt private land, whether that land is posted or not. Learn more about Walk-In Access hunting on CPW’s website.
Fall harvest is a very stressful period for landowners. Interrupting harvest or stopping a combine to ask for hunting permission is not a good idea. Standing at the end of the field waiting for the combine to flush birds is not recommended. That will likely draw the ire of the landowner.
Much of the eastern half of the state has been extremely dry since late summer, resulting in increased concerns regarding fire danger. Refrain from smoking while in the field, pay attention to unpaved roads which will wash out with precipitation, and be considerate when parking vehicles on access roads.
Across the Eastern Plains, hunters can benefit from a relatively new habitat type on the landscape in the form of sorghum stubble, also known as milo. Milo stubble is similar to wheat stubble in that density and height of stubble after harvest dictates pheasant abundance. Tall, dense milo stubble can be fantastic habitat because it provides good cover for birds.
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