OLYMPIA - Pheasant hunters accustomed to pursuing birds in the Skagit Wildlife Area (SWA) will find a few changes at the sprawling complex when the general western Washington pheasant season opens Saturday, Sept. 28, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
SWA land managers, battling a noxious weed infestation, planted a significant portion of the headquarters area in corn, rather than a shorter crop of cereal grain.
"The standing corn may be difficult for pheasant hunting, and hunters must be especially careful to know where other hunters are located in the fields," said Lora Leschner, WDFW regional wildlife program manager.
WDFW is providing an additional pheasant release site in Skagit County to reduce the hunting pressure and crowding on the SWA headquarters area during this year of crop rotation. Leschner said birds will be regularly released between Sept. 28-Nov. 1 on the 400-acre Samish unit, near Samish Island. The area can be accessed by driving north on the Bayview-Edison Road from State Route 20, then turning west on the Samish Island Road.
Pheasant releases will also continue throughout the season at Leque Island near Stanwood, Leschner said.
Area waterfowl hunters preparing for the Oct. 5 opener for duck, coot and snipe will find the headquarters area boat ramp unusable during low tides. Instead, duck hunters should use the boat ramp at Skagit County Park, near the Conway Bridge on the south fork of the Skagit River.
As in past years, non-toxic shot must be used on all SWA pheasant release sites and for waterfowl hunting. Additional rules and seasons information can be found in WDFW's 2002-03 "Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons" pamphlet, available a sporting goods stores throughout the state, or online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/ on the Internet.