Colorado Public Land Pheasant Hunting
If someone told you they were headed to Colorado to go hunting, your first guess would be elk. Your second guess would be mule deer. If the answer was still “no”, you would probably start scratching your head. Colorado isn’t known for pheasant hunting but there is quality hunting available and you don’t need a deed to your own property to hunt good ground. Let’s be honest, no one is going to drive through the Dakotas, Nebraska, or Kansas to hunt pheasants in Colorado. But if you’re coming from the South or just looking for a change of pace or some new scenery, Colorado may be the pheasant hunting destination you’re looking for. In fact, The Centennial State is coming off it’s best season ever. Hunters took an average of over four roosters per gun during the 2010 season.
Hunting is best in the northeastern part of the state. Yuma County perennially leads the state in harvest. Habitat is good and nesting success & winter survival is generally strong. The only negative is that Yuma County isn’t a well kept secret. Denver residents can get there in about two hours so weekend hunts can be crowded. Sandsage State Wildlife Area is a solid public hunting option. However, Colorado has private land open to public hunting via the Walk-In Access Program. The state has over 250,000 acres of private land open to bird hunters thanks to this program. There are some awesome properties in Yuma County enrolled and most of the birds taken in the area are hunted on WIA properties. You can see the properties enrolled in the program here.
Walk-In Access areas in Logan, Phillips, and Kit Carson Counties are also good spots to chase roosters in Colorado. The nearly 600 acre Julesburg State Wildlife Area in Sedgwick County is also worth a walk through.
Most of the pheasants taken in Colorado fall in the northeast portion of the state. But many hunters prefer Southeastern Colorado. There are fewer birds, but the competition is much lighter as well. The opportunity for some quail is also a bonus. Scaled quail are plentiful and some bobwhites are mixed in as well. The Arkansas River basin is a favorite Southeast Colorado pheasant hunting destination. The Walk-In Access Program Properties in Prowers & Bent Counties are favorites. Many of the properties along the Kansas border offer the best habitat and hunting for pheasants. If you want to hike state property, Mike Higbee State Wildlife Area & Queens State Wildlife Area are worth a try as are some others.
There are small pockets of pheasants in Western Colorado. The locals hunt them, but they’re not worth putting major mileage on your truck to get there for pheasants. Colorado isn’t pheasant paradise but the ringneck population is strong and there is an upland hunting culture despite the state’s big game prowess.
One thing to be mindful of before heading afield, Colorado has several different opening days and regulations vary. Always check regulations before hunting.