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Pheasant season opens Saturday 12-03-2004
Herald Staff Writer , From The Plainview Daily Herald

Pheasant season starts Saturday and runs through Jan. 2 and, according to Hale County Game Warden Mark Collins, hunters should find plenty of birds this year.

In an interview earlier in the fall, Collins explained that an abundance of rain this year has led to an abundance of wild food on which pheasant can forage.

“This is the wettest year I can remember, by far,” he said, pointing out that it has been even wetter than 1997.

In addition, there has been plenty of cover throughout the year to provide birds the protection they need for roosting and raising their young.

Collins said that across much of the area, pheasant hens have had at least two hatches this year.

While the abundant cover has been good for reproduction and survival, Collins said it provides one problem to hunters: It will be real easy to lose birds once they have fallen if they land in heavy growth.

Collins said hunters should mark their downed birds and retrieve them immediately.

Even a greater problem, Collins said, is the condition of area dirt roads.

In that regard, he continued, there are two areas where people need to pay attention.

Any kind of moisture over the next week will make those roads difficult to travel.

“All we need is a shower. Just 1/4 of an inch will turn these things back into a loblolly,” Collins said.

For that reason, hunters need to pay attention to the condition of roads before they travel. If they get stuck, it is doubtful that anybody will be able to get to them to pull them out of the mud.

At the same time, many roads that lead to good hunting spots also lead to peoples´ homes. It is inconsiderate for hunters to tear up roads for a two-hour hunt that people need to travel on each day.

Taking those things into consideration, Collins said, the bird population is great.

“It´s as good as I´ve ever seen it,” he said, adding that there are plenty of places to hunt this year.

As has been the case over the past three years, area hunters will have several thousand acres of public leases on which they can hunt this season. Those leases allow for pheasant hunting, and many offer water fowl hunting as well.

Again, because of the rain this year many of the playa lakes on the public units will have water. In addition, several are adjacent to grain fields which are excellent food sources for pheasant.

There are approximately 5,000 acres divided into 12 units in the area (all but one in Floyd County).

In order to take advantage of the units, hunters must purchase the $48 public hunting permit to go along with their regular hunting license.

Still, despite the extra cost ,Collins said the units are worth the money spent.

“They are a whale of a bargain that people need to make use of,” he said.

While the public units offer a wonderful opportunity for area hunters, Collins said there are some rules that must be followed.

First, individuals who are hunting pheasant must wear hunter orange over their torsos and on their heads or they will be fined. However, Collins said if people clearly are hunting ducks, geese or cranes, game wardens will understand.

Still, it is a good idea to wear hunter orange anytime one is walking through one of the public units, just to be safe, he said.

Second, do not shoot water fowl with lead shot. That is illegal. In fact, Collins said, hunters who think they might find themselves with an opportunity to jump some ducks or shoot some low-flying geese should simply take all the lead out of their hunting vests. That way there is not the chance of making a mistake.

Hunters are not allowed to smoke or possess alcohol on the public units and birds are not to be cleaned at the parking areas.

All applicable rules are in the public hunting books which came with the permits and should be reviewed.

Finally, as always, Collins emphasized the need to pay attention to what is on the other side of the bird when shooting.

He encouraged area hunters to take advantage of the land, the good bird populations and the opportunity for fellowship with family and friends.

However, he urged people to exercise common sense and good hunting ethics, and he hearkened back to a constant reminder:

“Don´t shoot the blockers.” Posted to MyPlainview: DECEMBER 03, 2004 13:04 CST

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