Pheasant and Quail Hunters Gain More Access Across Colorado
Colorado pheasant and quail hunters will have access to an additional 45,000 acres of private lands when the season opens Nov. 12, thanks to Colorado Parks and Wildlife and a federal grant program to encourage landowners to allow hunting. The new acreage means more than 260,000 acres are available to upland bird hunters through the state's Walk-In Access program this year.
The season arrives with a great deal of anticipation for small-game hunters who have witnessed two years of phenomenal pheasant hunting in Colorado in 2009 and 2010.
"It's hard to follow up on two great years and the drought conditions in the southeast part of the state will temper things a bit this year," said Ed Gorman, small game manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. "Even with less moisture and some severe hail storms this summer, pheasant numbers should still make for plenty of opportunity this fall in some parts of the eastern plains."
Gorman expects counties south of Interstate 70 to have fair to poor pheasant and quail hunting outside of irrigated areas because of the severe drought conditions. Hunters in Kit Carson and Yuma counties however can expect similar conditions to last year with good populations of birds. Phillips and Sedgwick counties could see good-to-excellent hunting. Across all counties, Gorman warns that early July hail did reduce populations in some of the traditional hotspots including eastern Sedgwick County, and in parts of Yuma, Phillips, Logan and Kit Carson counties. Finally, Gorman predicts that Washington, Logan and Morgan counties will continue to see improving populations of pheasants.
Opening-weekend hunters should expect some unharvested corn remaining in the fields, particularly in the northeast part of the state. "We were in really good shape with regards to corn harvest, until the weather turned on Oct. 26. Prior to the storm, it looked like nearly all of the corn would be out by the opener, but this storm slowed the harvest." Gorman added that hunters must remember that regulations close a Walk-In Access parcel to hunting while the landowner is harvesting – particularly with regard to grass sprinkler corners posted with special closure signs. "Adhering to closure regulations is absolutely critical to maintaining good relations with landowners," he concluded.
Colorado's pheasant and quail seasons open one-half hour before sunrise on Saturday, Nov. 12. The seasons run through Jan. 2, 2012 or Jan. 31, 2012 depending on the area. Hunters must have a Colorado small-game license and must have completed hunter education to participate in the seasons.
Small-game hunters in Colorado are also required to register for the Harvest Information Program (HIP) before hunting. Hunters can register and receive a HIP number by going on-line to http://www.colohip.com or by calling toll-free at 866-COLO-HIP (866-265-6447).
"Hunters that need to get a HIP number should register now," Gorman warned. "The phone lines get busy as opening day approaches and hunters can get through the relatively-simple process more quickly if they act now."
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Walk-In Access Program is free for licensed small-game hunters but hunters must adhere to specific property regulations and guidelines. Enrolled properties and regulations can be found using the annual Walk-In Program Atlas and the Late Cropland Atlas. Both publications are available where hunting licenses are sold, at Parks and Wildlife offices, or online at http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/SmallGame/Pages/SmallGame.aspx. A Walk-In Access stamp is no longer required for hunters to participate in the Walk-In Access Program in Colorado.