Oklahoma's pheasant season outlook sparse
BY KELLY BOSTIAN World Outdoors Writer
Sunday, November 18, 2012
11/18/12 at 6:50 AM
Pheasant season opens in Oklahoma on Dec. 1, but the outlook for hunting looks tough as the population has been hit hard by drought for two consecutive years.
Doug Schoeling, upland game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said an official preseason report is forthcoming, but informally he doesn't expect the season to be any better than last year. "I don't have exact numbers, but I know it's down from last year's count," he said.
Crowing surveys in Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Ellis, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Kay, Major, Noble, Texas, Woods, and Woodward counties in the spring were down roughly 60 percent across the area. Rain during the late winter and early spring improved brood rearing conditions for this year but the rest of the summer was very much a mirror of last year with drought and extreme heat.
"I'm expecting the hunting might be similar to last year, just because I feel like they might have gotten in an early hatch," Schoeling said.
General conditions are poor because native vegetation just didn't grow, Schoeling said. "There may be some pockets that produce, but it won't be widespread," he said.
August roadside surveys in the Panhandle were disappointing, said Wes Storer, biologist at Beaver River, Optima and Rita Blanca Wildlife Management Areas. "The drought has hit them pretty hard, the pheasant numbers are really low. I hate to say that but I'm just being truthful," he said.
In four August roadside surveys he covered 80 miles and saw only one juvenile rooster pheasant. Typically he would see somewhere between 15 and 35, he said. "When you only see one, you know something's up," he said. "People talk about hunting pressure and that kind of thing, but it's not that I'm not seeing roosters, I'm not seeing hens, not seeing pheasants at all."