A recovery of Oklahoma's pheasant population that began during 2013 has continued this year. Survey results from spring and summer indicate a higher numbers of birds in the 13-county survey area in northern Oklahoma compared to the 2015 results.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation keeps track of pheasant populations in Oklahoma using two types of road survey data: spring rooster crow counts and late-summer brood counts. The data indicate the number of cock pheasants entering the breeding season, and the number of broods that survived to become part of the general pheasant population.
Surveys are conducted in Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Ellis, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Kay, Major, Noble, Texas, Woods and Woodward. Five counties that are traditionally higher in pheasant numbers have been surveyed since 1973: Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Grant and Texas.
This year's crow count survey is 61.5 percent above the historical average and 46.3 percent above what was recorded in 2015 in the traditionally higher counties. The statewide survey is 27.3 percent above average and 41.5 percent above what was recorded in 2015. While the brood survey is 31 percent below the historical average, the brood surveys are 30 percent higher than in 2015 in the traditionally higher population counties and 60 percent higher across the statewide range.
Pheasant hunting season opens Dec. 1 and will run through Jan. 31, 2017. Licensed hunters may harvest only two cock pheasants daily. Wearing of hunter orange is required of pheasant hunters when any big-game hunting season is also open in the area where they are hunting.
Areas open to pheasant hunting are Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Kay, Major, Noble, Texas, Woods, and Woodward counties as well as the portion of Osage county west of State Highway 18, and portions of Blaine, Dewey, Ellis, Kingfisher and Logan counties north of State Highway 51. Seasons on public lands may vary from the statewide season.
For more regulations and other information, consult the "Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide" online at wildlifedepartment.com/law/guides?qt-guides=0#qt-guides, on the "OK Hunt" app for Apple and Android, or in print wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.