After the worst success on a pheasant hunt in Utah in 42 years, upland biologist are optimistic that this year's hunt will be better. Still, it won't be anything to shout about.
The hunt will open Nov. 3 and close Nov. 16. The limit is two roosters.Pheasants are losing their habitat to buildings and roads and changes in farming, which all account for the decline in the population the last two decades. Gone are the days of guaranteed limits on half-day hunts.
"But we are predicting a better hunt. Not a significant difference, but improved in most areas. Our counts this year showed an increase in the overall population," reported Jay Roberson, upland game coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
According to field checks last year, hunters averaged one bird for 10 hours of hunting, or about one in three hunters shot a bird on opening day. Over the season, hunters averaged about one bird for every two days of hunting.
Roberson said that last year there were 50,000 hunters afield and he expects about the same number out this year.
Best hunting is expected in Utah, Box Elder, Weber, Sanpete, Millard and Duchesne counties.
Roberson said he would suggest hunters go to traditional hunting areas, such as irrigated agricultural lands. Hunters should be aware of private land and ask permission before hunting.
Following is a regional report on pheasant hunting.
Northeastern Region - Numbers are up this year in the region. Pheasants observed per mile along established roadside routes is higher than it has been for the past five years, although not as high as prior to 1984. Brood counts have shown good production.
The hunt should prove to be slightly better than the past few years yet still below long term averages.
Southeastern Region - Hunting will be fair in the limited pheasant habitat. Production has been reported to be fair. The best hunting will be in the agricultural areas of western Carbon and Emery counties and near the town of Green River and Bluff.
Northern - Region-wide, populations remain below long-term averages. The forecast is for poor hunting in Cache and Davis counties, with slightly improved conditions in Box Elder and Weber counties. Expect the best hunting in agricultural areas adjacent to river corridors and wetlands.
Central Region - The population appears to be about the same or slightly larger than in 1989. Utah County counts decreased in numbers per mile and increased in average brood size. The 1989 counts were 1.5 birds per mile and 4.7 birds per brood. The 1990 figures were 1.3 and 5.0, respectively.
The Tooele County route produced one brood with two chicks. This is down from the one brood with four chicks last year. Southern Region - The report is for a hunt similar to last year's.