Sunday, December 6, 2015

Oklahoma Pheasant Numbers Rising Based on Roadside Surveys

Oklahoma's pheasant hunting season will open Tuesday, Dec. 1, and hunters planning to pursue this exotic species should find more birds to hunt this year, based on more optimistic results from annual roadside surveys conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
    "There will be a fair number of adult birds to hunt this year in the areas that usually hold good pheasant numbers," said Scott Cox, upland game biologist for the Wildlife
  The ring-necked pheasant was introduced in Oklahoma in 1911.  Hunters can pursue cock pheasants in open areas from Dec. 1 to Jan. 31. "The pheasant numbers are rising slowly. If we have a fairly mild winter and another cool and wet summer, then pheasant numbers should start to rebound like we have seen with the quail population."
    The Wildlife Department conducts two pheasant surveys: a count of the number of crowing male birds heard per mile along 20-mile routes during April and May, and a count of the number of broods seen per mile along 20-mile routes during late August. The surveys are conducted in Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Ellis, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Kay, Major, Noble, Texas, Woods and Woodward counties.
    Results are reported as an index for all the counties combined, but also for a subset of counties that traditionally has the highest pheasant densities: Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Grant and Texas counties. The indexes provide insight into the pheasant population over entire regions, and not necessarily for localized areas.
    Results from both surveys this year indicate more pheasants are in the fields than anytime since 2011.