OLYMPIA -- Midway through the eastern Washington pheasant hunting season and with two weeks left in the western Washington season, there's still lots of opportunity for hunting statewide.
Updated booklets with maps of release locations and other information are available at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Olympia and regional offices. Hunters are reminded to check the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons pamphlet for complete regulations, including sites where nontoxic shot is required for all hunting.
The western Washington season closes November 30, leaving two more weekends for hunting, including the long Thanksgiving holiday. By season's end hunters will have had opportunities for about 35,000 pheasants released at 31 sites throughout western Washington. Generally, dry weather has prevailed in western Washington; most hunters are reporting good success and quality birds.
On the east side, hunters can still look forward to a variety of pheasant hunting opportunities. Although pheasant populations are still rebounding from relatively low numbers last year, hunters who work good habitat are finding moderate success.
To supplement opportunities for hunting wild pheasants, more than 20,000 pheasants were purchased for release at designated release sites and some private lands in each of the three eastern Washington regions. Releases began with the youth hunting weekend in late September, and another 7,500 roosters are scheduled for release, with most going out before the end of November. The eastern Washington season closes Dec. 31.
In addition to sites where pheasants are released on a regular basis, some birds are released on other public lands and on private lands under programs called Feel Free To Hunt and Register To Hunt. In these programs managed by WDFW, landowners make their property available for hunting. Large amounts of land in these programs are accessible to hunters in some areas; hunters should look for WDFW signs indicating FFTH or Register To Hunt properties.
"It is important to note that pheasants will only be released at some of these areas and only on an irregular basis, usually only once or twice during the season," said Tom Keegan, WDFW Upland Game Section manager. "The purpose of these releases is to provide supplemental opportunity by putting some birds where public hunters have access."
In Region 1, Walla Walla County leads the way with 189,923 acres available to hunters; another 230,000 acres are available across Whitman, Garfield, and Columbia counties. Most lands in Whitman County are located in the St. John area. For general information, contact Mark Grabski, (509) 648-3680. In other listed Region 1 counties general information is available by calling Ted Johnson, (509) 527-4418.
Region 2 supplemental releases will occur sporadically on Feel Free To Hunt properties within the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project in Grant County. Approximately 10,000 acres are open to hunters in the area.
Additional pheasants will be released intermittently on some Region 3 properties where owners participate in the Feel Free To Hunt program in Franklin County (total of 38 cooperators with 62,301 acres) and Register To Hunt program in Benton County (four cooperators and 22,346 acres). For additional information on general release information, contact the Region 3 office at (509) 575-2740.