SOURCE: Pheasants Forever Hunitng Forecast 2022
Pheasant Hunting Forecast 2022: Washington
Washington has ups and downs, but upland habitat conditions are trending in the right direction
By Andy Fondrick
A mild winter in Washington was a great start for pheasants in the Pacific Northwest. Then an especially tough spring created difficult times for nesting birds. Luckily, with moisture comes habitat, and late nesters should have had favorable brooding conditions throughout much of the state.
WEATHER AND CONDITIONS
After another mild winter in Washington, pheasants should have had a fairly high survival rate heading into nesting season.
“Eastern Washington saw a fairly mild winter this year, so adult survival should have been good over the winter months,” says Sarah Garrison, small game and furbearer specialist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “We had an unusually cool, wet spring in 2022. This may have been hard on early-hatching broods, but it has led to improved forage and cover through the summer.”
Garrison adds, “Though some of eastern Washington is still in moderate drought or abnormally dry, most of the pheasant core area in southeastern Washington is not currently in drought status. In particular, Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield and Whitman counties are in decent condition this season.”
HABITAT, BROODS AND COUNTS
The ups and downs in weather conditions have made for difficult predictions on pheasant numbers, although there aren’t any official counts to provide a more concrete outlook. WDFW recently launched a brood and distribution survey for wild turkeys and upland birds to get a better idea of bird numbers in the future.
“This is an opportunistic survey, open to the public, so reports from any time of the year are valuable,” says Garrison. “We’re especially interested in reports from July and August. These give us an idea of brood sizes and productivity. In the first year of the survey, we haven’t received enough reports to say much about 2022 broods, but as more people become familiar with the survey, we’re looking forward to having a new tool to monitor these populations.”
You can be part of the WDFW efforts in tabulating upland bird numbers across the state into the future by submitting your reports here.
With reports of encouraging habitat conditions providing excitement heading into the 2022 hunting season, Garrison recommends a few bright spots in the state if you’re looking to chase pheasants this fall:
“Grant, Whitman and Walla Walla counties saw the most pheasant harvest during the 2021 season, and these should be good bets for the upcoming season. For more detailed information, annual Hunting Prospects are available for each district in the state.” Click here for locally produced hunting reports for each district within the state.
“In western Washington, we continue to offer a pheasant release program since this area does not sustain wild pheasant populations,” adds Garrison. “This is a great opportunity for new, young and seasoned hunters, in an area where other upland bird opportunities are limited.”
Click here for more information on the Western Washington Pheasant Release Program.
When it comes to upland hunting in Washington, Garrison offers a tip that can be an “ace in the hole” for hunters across the state.
“Eastern Washington pheasant hunters can benefit from WDFW’s Private Lands Access Program.This program offers multiple types of access options to accommodate hunters.”