Category Archives: Small-Game Hunting

2018 Pheasant & Quail Forecast

Pheasant Hunting Conditions

In comparison to last year, Colorado’s forecast for the 2018 pheasant hunting season is going to be right around the average mark. Conditions for nesting and brood-rearing weren’t optimal this year, but the conditions weren’t bad either. Last winter was dry, which means that there wasn’t a lot of soil moisture early this year. So green wheat and early brood-rearing habitat didn’t get an early start. Wet weather did arrive in May, which was good, and then June dried out, with warmer than normal temperatures for several days. In late July and early August, a series of pretty significant hailstorms came through the core pheasant region. And those storms definitely had an impact on habitat, as well as birds with some being killed by hailstones. Read more

Grouse Hunt Reveals Elk Hunting Strategies

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Even the best-laid plans sometimes go wrong. As hunters, when heading into the field, we attempt to control as many variables as possible. Exploring Colorado’s backcountry requires knowledge of the terrain, proper nutrition and hydration, functional equipment and an appetite for adventure. And while we can control most of these variables, there’s one factor that is always out of our control – weather. This doesn’t mean hunting should be tabled until the weather is ideal; it simply means we need to adjust our strategies and approaches to work around what we cannot change. Read more

Grouse Getaway

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Greater sage-grouse display on a lek in northwest Colorado.  All photos by © Wayne D. Lewis.

YOTB_stacked_KIn the pre-predawn haze on a northwest Colorado prairie, every dark spot, smudge or blot you see is a greater sage-grouse — until the gathering light proves they’re not. As sunrise approaches, the “sage-grouse” become the rocks, sagebrush and clumps of dirt they actually are. But you know the birds are there because you hear them — everywhere. It’s not the distinct call of a western meadowlark (also heard in the mix) or other prairie bird, but much more otherworldly. It’s like the sounds the exotic-cute indigenous critters would make as they surround the Zachary Quinto version of Spock on some far-off planet in a Star Trek movie. Whether we know it it or not, the occupants of Mick and Nancy Sommer’s 4Runner are in a contest to see the first real greater sage-grouse. I end up taking bronze. Read more

Quick Tips: Hunting Quail in Eastern Colorado

Quick Tips: Hunting Quail in Eastern Colorado. Video by © Crystal Egli/CPW

With very good quail populations in Colorado and hunting seasons extending into January, it’s a great time to get out and go quail hunting. Trent Verquer, Grasslands Habitat Coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, shows how to identify and locate scaled and northern bobwhite quail in eastern Colorado.

Some helpful resources for your next quail hunt:

Field Dressing Pheasants

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Yuma County Pheasant. Photo by © Mike DelliVeneri/CPW

December and January offer ideal pheasant hunting conditions in Colorado. The opening day crowds have thinned, crops have been cut and harvested and the cooler air is just right for walking the draws, sloughs and grassy fields in search of roosters. For those lucky hunters that are able to get some time in the field, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has some field dressing advice that will help protect your harvest and keep you legal. Watch Trent Verquer, Grasslands Habitat Coordinator, and Josh Melby, District Wildlife Manager, for some tips that will get you on the right path to field dressing your next pheasant. Read more

2017 Colorado Pheasant and Quail Hunting Forecast

2017 Colorado Pheasant and Quail Hunting Forecast. Video by © Jerry Neal/CPW

Colorado pheasant and quail hunters have plenty to be excited about this year when the season opens statewide on November 11. Pheasant and quail populations have increased dramatically, setting the stage for what could be a very good season for upland hunters. Check out this year’s Colorado pheasant and quail forecast video to see what’s in store for upland hunters. Pheasant hunting tips are also available right here on Colorado Outdoors Online.

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10 Tips for Hunting Doves in Colorado

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A harvested mourning dove. Photo by Jerry Neal (CPW)

When it comes to small-game hunting, doves are arguably the greatest challenge for wingshooters. Although these fast flyers are Colorado’s most plentiful game bird, you’ll need to bring your “A” game to fill the 15-bird daily limit.  The following tips and information will help you have more fun and put more doves in your game-bag.  Additionally, the 2017 season has been extended to November 29, which will give huners an increased opportunity to get out into the field.
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Field To The Table: A Must-Try Pheasant Recipe

Colorado’s pheasant season is now a month old. Hopefully, with some luck and good marksmanship, you’ve bagged a few roosters by now. But unless you’re as skilled with a skillet as you are with a shotgun, you may be wondering what to do with those birds in the freezer.

Phear not! This pheasant pheast is sure to please the entire family. This simple and delicious recipe has been a favorite of mine for years. The medley of fresh mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup and white wine is a superb way to cook wild pheasant — a bird that can be drier than a 007 martini if not prepared properly.

Check out the video below and give this easy recipe a try. Serve with mashed potatoes or wild rice for the perfect ensemble. Pheasant is also a great alternative to that tired Butterball centerpiece on the holiday dinner table.


Written and produced by Jerry Neal. Neal is the editor for Colorado Outdoors Online and is a media specialist for CPW.

Women Afield: My first pheasant hunt

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The author holds a shotgun for the first time at a Women Afield hunt. Photo by Crystal Egli/CPW.

The first time in my life I’ve held a shotgun is also the first time I’ve hunted. On a cold and clear morning in November, I joined thirteen other women for a Women Afield pheasant hunt organized by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The number of hunting licenses sold to women has grown slowly but steadily over the past few years in Colorado, according to CPW data. In 2015, 9.4 percent of the total licenses sold were to female hunters, an increase from 7.8 percent in 2011. Recent articles in Denver’s 5280 Magazine and The Washington Times show interest among women in hunting, and CPW has identified a need for increased outreach to this population.

“Our main focus right now is getting youth and women into the field and trying to promote our hunting tradition,” said Crystal Chick, the statewide hunter outreach coordinator for CPW. “A lot of people don’t have a family member or friend who hunts and it’s really hard to get into hunting without that mentor.”
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Set Your Sights on Sighting In

The Chaffee County Shooting Range

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A shooter takes aim at the Chaffee County Shooting Range. All photos by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW

“Don’t tell anyone about this place,” said the target shooter as the smell from the rifle rounds he just shot hung in the air. “This place is great and I don’t want it to get too crowded.”

“Sorry, but telling people about this place is why I’m here,” I replied, smiling.

“This place” is the Chaffee County Shooting Range, or “the best, nonfee, public range in the state,” as Jim Aragon, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) area wildlife manager for Area 13, proudly stated. And from my tour of the range, I would enthusiastically agree. While I understand the shooter’s worry, with the range covering more than 55 acres, I think there is room for more visitors. Read more

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