Pheasant season opens Saturday

It’s time the birds to go scurrying for cover again.
A flock of hunters is expected to converge on Yuma County, and other parts of northeastern Yuma County for the start of Colorado’s pheasant hunting season, which runs November 13 through January 31.
Local hotels, motels, camper hook-ups and other lodging accommodations are expected to be full for the opening weekend. The Yuma County Pheasant Forever Banquet is scheduled for later Saturday at the Irrigation Research Foundation site north of town.
The question is — will the hunters find plenty of opportunities to fill their limit?
“They’ll find birds, especially early in the season,” local Colorado Division of Wildlife & Parks Officer Josh Melby said. “It will get tougher as we go into January.”
Plenty of moisture in April and May made for great hatching conditions for the newest crop of ringnecks. However, as Melby noted, that was followed by an extremely hot and dry summer. He said the conditions were tough on chicks, especially in some areas south of Yuma that have experienced several tough summers in a row.
Most of Yuma County still has decent numbers.
“It’s probably as good, or a little better, than last year,” Melby said.
Corn harvest also could interfere a bit with the opening weekend. Melby, who spends a lot of time in the countryside, said it appears most of the fields have been harvested, but there still are several north of Yuma yet to be picked.
Therefore, hunters are reminded to be careful where they park along county roads, and make sure they stay out of the way of harvest traffic.
Hunters also are reminded to make sure they get permission before hunting on private land.
There also is more than 10,000 acres in Yuma County of walk-in access land. Melby said there is not as much walk-in as in the past as many former CRP acres are no longer available.
Yuma County Pheasants Forever, though, has been doing its part to as it has been converting 200 to 500 acres per year, over the past several years, into habitat. It mostly involves corners of irrigated circles. Pheasants Forever enters into agreements with landowners to plant a quality grass mix that serves as a great habitat area for pheasants. The agreement includes the corners being available to the public for hunting for five years.
Hunters can access a smartphone app through the Parks & Wildlife website, which acts like Google Maps in that it shows hunters where the walk-in access areas are in relation to their location. There also is an electronic version of the walk-in maps on the website. One also can still get a paperback book of the locations at Parks & Wildlife offices, and hunting license locations.
The division will have extra officers in the region this weekend to help Melby to make sure everything goes well.
The Pheasants Forever Banquet on Saturday begins at 5 p.m. The event includes a BBQ meal, games, a live auction that begins at 7, and more. The meal is $10, and a membership is $35.