More birds excite pheasant hunters

Lone Star Outdoor News

Pheasants continue to rebound in the Texas Panhandle, and better hunting is expected.

Several years of drought hampered the bird in past years, and last season saw a slight rebound, according to a pheasant forecast prepared by Pheasants Forever.

Terry Cook of Straight Line Outfitters is more optimistic than that.

“We went yesterday (Nov. 21) and the pheasant crop looks phenomenal, almost like the good old days,” he said. “At one farm, we stopped at a grass corner, got out of the vehicle and flushed 14 pheasants.”

Cook hunts primarily in Moore County near Dumas and Etter, and to the east in Hutchinson County near Stinnett.

“We thought it would be better last year,” he said. “Despite the rains, the pheasants were slow to bounce back, even though the quail and turkey numbers improved. I don’t know what happened last year, I think maybe the chicks drowned.”

Calvin Richardson, District 2 Leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, said the birds have been on a gradual uptick since the droughts of 2011-2013.

“It was one of the worst droughts ever and really knocked them in the head,” he said. “There was a slight recovery in 2014 with rainfall that approached average, and above average rainfall last year helped pheasants a little.”

Dane Swinburn of Tule Creek Outfitters said his hunting areas near Tulia look real good.

“We had more grain last year than in quite a few years and that helped. We’ll have quite a few birds to hunt this year,” he said.

Richardson said reports to the TPWD office have been favorable.

“Landowners and biologists have been seeing a few more birds this summer, including some localized concentrations,” he said. “Pheasant hunters should find fair to good hunting opportunities this year, especially in areas with irrigated grain crops adjacent to good cover such as playas or CRP that has not been hayed or grazed.”

Some counties will be better than others for pheasants, Richardson said.

“As usual, some of the better pheasant numbers will be found in Dallam, Hartley, Hansford, Sherman, Ochiltree, Deaf Smith, Moore, Carson and Roberts counties,” he said. “Although a little more inconsistent in distribution, Swisher, Briscoe, Castro, and Parmer counties will be supporting a few birds in localized situations.”


Pheasant Season Dates

 December 3, 2016 through January 1, 2017

Daily Bag Limit: 3

Possession Limit: 6