A black Lab proudly displays a rooster pheasant near Burlington, CO. Photo by © Jerry Neal/CPW.
On Nov. 12, hunters and bird dogs alike will celebrate as Colorado’s 2016-17 pheasant season opens statewide.
According to wildlife managers, pheasant populations have improved significantly over last season. Precipitation returned to much of the core pheasant range in the last three years helping to improve nesting conditions and rebuild Colorado’s pheasant crop. Although pheasant populations remain below the peak numbers that hunters enjoyed seven years ago, there are enough roosters to keep things exciting and plenty of additional reasons to lace up your hunting boots and explore Colorado’s Eastern Plains this fall.
As an avid wingshooter, pheasant hunting has long been one of my favorite outdoor pastimes. The flash of brilliant color and raucous cackle of a rooster pheasant bursting from dense cover is enough to make even the most seasoned hunter giddy with excitement. I’ve hunted these birds for decades, and it’s a sight and sound that still captivates me. Read more
Tom Remington and his English Setter, Tess, after a successful hunt.
— Article and photos by Tom Remington
Pheasant hunting is almost never easy, but hunting late-season pheasants can be particularly challenging. In December and January, you may be chasing less than half the roosters available in November. The survivors are battle hardened and educated to the ways of hunters and bird dogs. Pheasants learn to avoid draw bottoms, fence lines and other linear covers preferred by hunters and, instead, move to the middle of large fields.
My friends and I, through years of hard experience, have developed some unconventional strategies that work well late in the season. Roosters respond to hunters in predictable ways, and these tactics can help you take advantage of pheasant behavior. Read more
Tom Brokaw on a recent pheasant hunt in South Dakota. Photo courtesy of NBC Sports.
As an avid sportsman, I’m always pleasantly surprised when I see national media outlets featuring positive stories about hunting and fishing.
Last week, retired NBC “Nightly News” anchorman Tom Brokaw explored the cultural and economic impacts of pheasant season in a one-hour special entitled “Opening Day.” The educational and entertaining program, which premiered on NBC Sports Network on Nov. 19, showed Brokaw, 74, hunting in his home state of South Dakota where pheasant season has become a $200-million-a-year industry.
“I’ve had this theory for a long time that an important part of American culture and the economy are opening days,” said Brokaw in an interview with MSNBC. “We don’t pay a lot of attention to it on the Eastern Seaboard and in the West — but there are opening days of pheasant season in South Dakota, deer hunting in Pennsylvania, ducks in Arkansas, minor league baseball in the Southeast, Friday night lights in Texas.”
Here in Colorado, opening day, in its various forms, is an even bigger economic juggernaut. The facts are truly staggering: Hunting and fishing provide more than $1.8 billion in economic activity, rivaling the ski industry in total revenue generated. Hunting and fishing also support more than 21,000 full-time jobs and are the only recreational activities that benefit every county in the state. Read more
Pheasant hunters on a 2014 NHP hunt. Photo by Tony Dymek/CPW.
Experienced hunters enter the field confident of finding game. For new hunters, gaining that confidence — knowing the where, when, how and why of hunting — is often the biggest barrier to success.
That’s the idea behind the Novice Hunter Program, a new Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) effort to help recent hunter-education graduates master the basics of pheasant hunting. The brainchild of Northeast Regional Manager Steve Yamashita and his staff, the program enjoyed a successful launch in 2013 and is currently underway for the 2014 seasons. Read more
How a person hunts is often a precise indicator of their character. In many instances, personality traits revealed in the field can either enhance or ruin the hunting experience for everyone involved.
I recently hunted pheasants with a large group of people, and at the risk of sounding elitist or judgmental, there were certain actions and behaviors by several members of the group that diminished the hunt for me and for the other hunters. These actions were not as atrocious as broken game-laws or blatant disregard of safety issues–those types of infractions will end my participation instantly. Instead, these behaviors are more comparable to bad etiquette at the dinner table, behind the wheel of a car or on the golf course—tolerable acts but unpleasant and indicative of poor character. Read more
I suppose we were a little suspect of each other. He wondering why I was taking him from his tiny universe and me wondering if he could be everything his predecessor was. He has grown comfortable around the house and has taken well to training. I haven’t even shot a bird over him and yet he has already made me look forward to hunting again, given me back a passion I lost. I am baffled by what dogs do for us.
It is August and Denver is baking, but for the first time in a year, I can’t wait for a cool breeze indicating autumn. There are great times ahead for Dutch and me.
I’m looking forward to walks under yellowing cottonwoods and naps in predawn wetlands. There will be nicks from barbed wire and days when a truck heater never felt so good. And of course there will be mallards banking into decoys and pheasants to chase.
So throw a couple of preseason dummies for your companion. Fall is coming. Anticipate how perfect the world can look when following a hunting dog with shotgun in hand.