Colorado pheasants are doing well. Hunting should be good this fall. Here's the scoop: It's the habitat.
By Tom Carpenter
As reported in Pheasants Forever’s Summer Pheasant Forecast – Colorado
, Colorado is providing some good rooster news on the upland landscape.
“We had an interesting spring, with a mix of both wet and dry conditions, and cool and warm air,” reports Ed Gorman, Small Game Manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). “Then June and July hit, and things got dry. August turned a little wetter.”
“I think, as far as the pheasant hatch goes, in all it was a pretty decent combination,” he says. “Vegetation started out with good-enough growth due to okay spring moisture, and that also supported insect production to help feed chicks. The warm and dry weather was also good for chick survival.”
Most of the evidence comes anecdotally, but seems to be consistent across Colorado’s pheasant range. “We don’t do roadside surveys in Colorado,” says Gorman. “It’s just too dry in most places here. The birds have no reason to come out and be counted roadside.”
“All in all, I think it’s going to be a good year for pheasant hunting in Colorado,” he summarizes. “Our numbers have really been building steadily with mild winters, decent habitat conditions, and solid nesting success annually.”
Where to go? “Yuma County, in the Northeast, is always our top pheasant producer,” says Gorman. “That’s not likely to change this year.”
“Phillips and Sedgwick Counites, also in northeastern Colorado, are good too,” he adds.
“We just have a lot of good habitat in northeastern Colorado,” adds Gorman. “One of the biggest pluses here is that we’ve got a couple hundred irrigation corners here that are in our Walk-In Access Program
. These are smaller parcels but with good grass habitat. Right next to all that agricultural land, they can be quite productive.”
“In East-Central Colorado, Kit Carson County is looking very good for pheasants,” says Gorman.
“We even have pheasants in southeastern Colorado,” he points out. “Baca County is best there, but don’t overlook the surrounding southeastern counties, especially where there’s agriculture.”
Rain has helped southeastern Colorado’s upland picture. “The habitat looks great in this region, and I think the pheasant hunting will be as good as it’s ever been in our Southeast,” says Gorman. “The Comanche National Grasslands also hold some pheasants, and there is some Walk-in land in that area too.”
Colorado Hunting Tips
*“Knocking on doors will work in Colorado,” says Gorman. “It works best before the season, if you can get a landowner to meet you and you can line something up. But it can work in-season too,” after the landowner’s family and guests have hunted.
*“Most landowners want to meet you in person before making a “yes” or “no” decision,” Gorman says. “There’s no harm in asking.”
*“Walk-In Areas make finding places to hunt easy, but they will be used by other hunters,” he says. Try and time your hunting for mid-week when pressure will be lower.
Colorado Pheasant Page
Colorado Walk-In Access Program
Tom Carpenter is Digital Content Manager for Pheasants Forever