By Tom Carpenter
Texas’s pheasants are confined to the Panhandle. This year we turned to Calvin Richardson,
Panhandle District Leader for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, for a look at Lone Star pheasants.
Last year’s pheasant harvest was pretty strong in the panhandle, with over 48,000 roosters taken. That’s the highest tally since the 2010-11 season, and above the 10-year average of 43,000 birds.
“Most of the Panhandle experienced a severe drought from October 2017 through April or May of 2018,” says Richardson, “with many areas receiving less than one inch of moisture during that time.”
“The dry spring conditions were only exacerbated by hotter than normal temperatures in May, with numerous days creeping over 100 degrees,” adds Richardson. That could have been really bad news for birds. “But by mid-summer, conditions had improved somewhat, following a few thunderstorm events in late May and June. The two driest areas that have caught very little moisture over the past 10 months are the central Panhandle and the counties west of Lubbock.”
“Pheasant surveys will be conducted in October and November,” says Richardson. “Surveys and observations showed fair pheasant number over the past 3 years. With very dry conditions early on but improving conditions over the summer, we anticipate some nesting success and similar bird numbers this fall compared to last fall — lots of insect production recently, and seed production is increased with mid-summer rainfall.” That’s good for broods.
“Even with only fair pheasant numbers last year, we received some reports of some really good hunting days for folks with ideal habitat (areas with irrigated grain crops adjacent to good cover such as rank, weedy playas or CRP),” says Richardson. “The playas that are supporting good cover this year will be worth checking out during December.”
Stay tuned for Texas pheasant survey results later this fall. Texas hunters will have birds to hunt, and another harvest of 48,000+ birds could be in the making.