Pheasant season opens Dec. 1 in northwest Oklahoma, and the population is still down overall from boon years, but expectations are the hunting will be better than last season.
Early reports from quail season indicate more successful hunting this year, so bird hunters are optimistic that pheasant will be the same.
Scott Cox, upland game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said it's been common for groups of quail hunters to see about four or five coveys each, with covey sizes ranging from about 12 to 18 birds.
The hunting has been good in certain areas, even with scenting conditions that were poor to fair for bird dogs, Cox said.
“Quail is a huge improvement over last year,” said James Dietsch of Warr Acres, the founding chairman of the Central Oklahoma 89er Chapter of Quail Forever. “I have probably seen 30 to 35 coveys. We haven't seen a covey under 12 birds.”
Dietsch also jumped three roosters while quail hunting north of Woodward last week.
“I am looking forward to pheasant season,” he said. “It's got to be better than last year. The hatching and nesting conditions were a lot better last summer than the previous three or four.”
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's brood count survey of young pheasants in August showed a 20 percent increase from last season, thanks to the milder summer temperatures and more rain.
The crow counts of adult birds conducted in May and August, however, were down from last year.
“The number of adult birds that make it to the breeding season is important because they will serve as the breeding stock for the new broods, but it's the number of young birds that they produce and that survive into the fall season that really makes or breaks the hunting season,” Cox said.
When: Dec. 1 — Jan. 31
Open counties: Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Kay, Major, Noble, Texas, Woods and Woodward counties, as well as the portion of Osage County west of SH 18 and the portions of Blaine, Dewey, Ellis, Kingfisher and Logan counties north of SH 51.
Bag limits: The daily bag limit for pheasants is two roosters, with a possession limit of four after the first day.