OLYMPIA — Washington hunters can get a jump on pheasant hunting with two opportunities that open Sept. 26.
In western Washington, hunters age 14 and under who are accompanied by an adult, (and senior hunters age 65 or older), can hunt pheasant release sites Sept. 26 through Oct. 2. The regular pheasant hunting season in western Washington opens Oct. 3.
In eastern Washington, hunters under age 16 can hunt pheasants and quail Sept. 26 and 27, if accompanied by a non-hunting adult at least 18 years of age. The regular season in eastern Washington opens Oct. 10.
The early youth seasons are meant to encourage a new generation of hunters to try the sport and perhaps develop a lifelong interest in wildlife and the importance of preserving needed habitat, explained Dave Ware, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) upland game program manager.
Private organizations such as Pheasants Forever are developing "youth-mentor" pheasant hunts because it's often difficult for kids to get involved in hunting when their parents or relatives don't hunt upland birds, Ware said.
Youth-mentor hunts are opportunities for kids to learn the basics of bird hunting with an experienced, adult hunter. Most of these hunts will take place during the special early youth seasons.
Interested young hunters or their parents should contact WDFW's Wildlife Management Program in Olympia at (360) 902-2515, which is serving as a clearinghouse for participating organizations.
Once referred to a participating group, young hunters are matched with available mentors to go afield in groups. Parents or other responsible adults are asked to accompany their sons or daughters during the hunt.
Participating groups include the Olympic, Skagit Valley, South Puget Sound, and Yakima Valley chapters of Pheasants Forever, the U.S. Army's Fort Lewis Adventure Center, Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, and Vancouver Wildlife League.
Hunters are advised to consult WDFW's "Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons" pamphlet for license, stamp and hunter education requirements before setting out to hunt.