- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma’s two-month pheasant season has opened, but the ringneck population hasn’t rebounded as well as the bobwhite quail.

While the early season quail hunting has been excellent, hunters can expect the pheasant hunting to be about the same as last year, which is not very good, The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/1rYdurO ) reported.

The quail hunters in northwest Oklahoma have been flushing a few roosters but it’s been spotty, said Scott Cox, upland game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

“I am pretty sure there are going to be a few more birds than last year,” said Scott Cox, upland game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “It (the population) can’t do nothing but go up since we bottomed out because of the drought.

“Reproduction is probably about like last year, maybe a little better. It’s hard to tell. There is a little more cover this year. It may be little better than what we think, but just by the brood counts it’s looking similar (as last year). It’s not anything magnificent like the quail have been, that’s for sure.”

The Beaver Wildlife Management Area offers the best option for public land to find ringnecks, but pheasant prefer the cultivated farmland habitat mixed with weedy fencerows and overgrown pastures common across north-central Oklahoma and the Panhandle. The daily limit is two roosters.

Laura McIver, the Oklahoma representative for the conservation organization Quail Forever, said it will take more time for the pheasant population to bounce back.

“They won’t renest multiple times like quail will,” she said.

The good news is the field reports about quail hunting. State wildlife officials surveyed bird hunters across western Oklahoma on the opening day of quail season and were encouraged by the feedback.

“Some guys were moving four to five coveys in a day and some 10 to 15,” Cox said. “There are birds out there, that’s for sure. It’s probably been the best it’s been in 10 years.”

There were good reports about quail from all of the public hunting lands in western Oklahoma except the Sandy Sanders Wildlife Management Agency, he said.

“It was hit or miss at Sandy Sanders,” Cox said. “Some guys got into birds and some didn’t.”

Quail season remains open through Feb. 15. The hunting should get even better as scenting conditions improve for bird dogs.

“A good 50 degree day with high humidity and moisture on the ground, a guy could find some birds on a day like that,” Cox said. “A little snow on the ground would be even better.”

Some of the state’s wildlife management areas are closed to quail hunting during all or portions of the deer gun season, so check before planning a bird hunting trip out west.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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