Chasing pheasants in Washington may require a little extra time in the field compared to past years
By Andy Fondrick, Digital Marketing Specialist at Pheasants Forever
Pheasant hunting conditions across the state of Washington didn’t prove to be especially difficult during the 2018-19 season, but an extended winter combined with wet nesting conditions may have negatively affected upland numbers.
Still, for those who are willing to put in the time and a few extra miles walking in the field, there should be opportunity to harvest roosters in the Pacific Northwest this season, and Washington can be a good place to do it.
Weather and Conditions
Winter in Washington wasn’t particularly difficult for upland birds, although it didn’t come without challenges. “Eastern Washington had a relatively mild winter,” says Sarah Garrison, small game and furbearer specialist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “But winter did last longer than normal, with an atypically harsh snowstorm in late February and some wintry conditions extending into March that may have slowed spring green-up.”
After the extended winter, spring began with wet conditions before drying out as summer came around. “After a cool, dry March, April and May were relatively wet with average to warm temperatures,” Garrison says. “A warm June and cool July were relatively dry compared to normal in eastern Washington.”
Habitat, Broods and Counts
According to Garrison, biologists in southeastern Washington conducted brood surveys in collaboration with other states, the National Pheasant Technical Committee and Iowa State University as part of a research project on the efficacy of roadside surveys. These results will be available after analysis to assess the impacts of environmental conditions on the detectability of pheasants.
While the surveys are not accessible at this point, those in the fields have been able to provide a glimpse into what might be a tougher year for Washington pheasant hunters.
“Anecdotal reports from biologists, farmers and other cooperators are indicating that pheasants may be harder to come by this year,” says Garrison. “There are birds to find out there for hunters who spend the time in the field, but pheasant hunting may be more challenging this year than last year.”
Garrison offered up a few locations that are typical hotspots for pheasant hunters.
“Grant and Whitman counties consistently provide high wild pheasant harvests in eastern Washington,” says Garrison. “In addition to wild pheasant hunting in the eastern part of the state, Washington releases pheasants to provide additional opportunity in both eastern and western Washington. Pheasant releases this year will be similar in number to last year.”
Information on the eastern and western Washington pheasant release programs and release sites are available here
When it comes to insider tips on chasing pheasants in Washington this fall, Garrison recommends a few different resources to steer hunters in the right direction.
“Take a look at hunting tips for pheasant and other upland game birds on the WDFW blog
,” Garrison says. “Also, hunting prospects for each district will be available here on the WDFW website