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Outdoors Notebook: Pheasant hunting likely to be subpar

Thursday, October 21, 2004
By ALLEN THOMAS, Columbian staff writer

Pheasant season opens Saturday in Eastern Washington, with hunters not expected to enjoy a bonanza year.

Cold, wet weather during the spring nesting season appears to have had a detrimental effect on most upland birds in Eastern Washington, with the exception of quail, state wildlife officials say.

Quail, which spread out their nesting over a longer period than other upland birds, appear to have fared well, Fred Dobler of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife told the Vancouver chapter of Pheasants Forever in September.

The pheasant season in Eastern Washington is five days shorter than in 2003 and a huge 18 days shorter than in 2002.

State officials said that in surveys and public meetings some hunters recommended the later opener because second-hatch roosters of the year were not feathered fully and recognizable until late October.

Also on the side of a later pheasant opener were some deer hunters and landowners who didn't appreciate bird shooters fouling their deer hunts, which opened Saturday.

Washington's best quail hunting may be in the Yakima region.

Pheasant hunters in the Yakima Valley will find their best success on Yakama Indian Reservation land, said Lee Stream, regional wildlife program manager.

But the reservation lands aren't what they used to be because non-Indian land nearby has been converted from corn and wheatfields to orchards and vineyards, eliminating good pheasant cover.

Martin Ellenburg, manager of the 13,000-acre Klickitat Wildlife Area west of Goldendale, said there was a good quail hatch this year.

"The chukars, there aren't a whole lot here, but they had a decent hatch too,'' he said. "We're seeing lots of coveys of quail that are 20-plus birds.''

Odds and ends

* Pinchot stream report coming: An assessment of stream temperatures in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest will be presented when the Southwest Washington Province Advisory Committee meets Wednesday in Vancouver.

The panel, which assists federal agencies in implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan, will meet at 9 a.m. at the Vancouver Fire Department station, 6701 N.E. 147th Ave.

Also on the agenda will be a presentation of the Western Washington sustainable timber harvest environmental impact statement.

An open forum session will begin at 1 p.m., providing citizens an opportunity to address the committee.

Grant awarded: An $8,000 grant to improve rearing habitat for juvenile salmon at Smith and Bybee Lakes Wildlife Area has been awarded to Metro Parks and Greenspaces.

The money comes from a state program financed by a surcharge on sport and commercial fishing licenses and commercial poundage fees in Oregon.

The area includes almost 2,000 acres of lakes and wetlands near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. A dam built in 1982 created the lakes.

Metro and Ducks Unlimited recently built a water control structure to increase wetlands and provide fish passage over the dam so young salmon once again can use the habitat.

The money will pay for installing trash racks to catch logs and other floating debris.

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