Hunting pheasant and quail? Here’s information you need to know

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Upland game and waterfowl hunts are already happening across Utah. Given the state of animal populations, there are some rules hunters should know

The DNR Wildlife resources have sent a release with specific information about each bird. The information for hunters is below.

Pheasants (ring-necked)

The general hunting season for pheasants runs from Nov 7, to Dec 6, 2020.

The number of pheasants and where they can be found will depend on where you are hunting in Utah. Northern Utah saw average brood production, and hunting success should be about the same as last year.

The majority of pheasants can be located on private land in the eastern portion of Box Elder County. In Central Utah, pheasants can be located primarily around Utah Lake, in particular at the Powell Slough WMA and on the Utah Lake Wetland Preserve.

The DNR states: “The wild pheasant population is relatively limited in the southeastern part of the state, and hunting conditions will be similar to last year. Most of the pheasants in this part of the state will be found near irrigated fields on private lands. Popular pheasant hunting areas include the Green River Valley near the town of Green River, the Miller Creek area of Carbon and Emery counties, as well as in Huntington, Straight, and Ferron canyons.”

“In southern Utah, hunters can find some wild pheasants in Sevier and Piute counties. The hunting is expected to be fair in those areas, and most birds are located on private property.”

Hunters should remember that written permission from landowners is required to hunt on any private lands.

“Hunters should also target the DWR wildlife management areas located throughout the state because we will be releasing about 12,000 pen-reared rooster pheasants in these areas,” Heather Talley, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources upland game coordinator, said. “Birds will be released each week throughout November to help increase hunter success and give everyone a good opportunity to harvest birds this season.”

According to the press release: To see where the pheasants will be released this season visit the DWR website (Many of the locations include WMAs and walk-in access areas — which is an area of private land on which the DWR has leased certain hunting, trapping, or fishing privileges.) For a full list of WMAs that can be hunted for upland game and which seasons they are open for, visit the 2020-21 Utah Upland Game and Turkey Guidebook. To locate a walk-in access area near you, visit the DWR website. 

Hunting Tips:

“If you don’t have a dog, you can still be successful by walking slowly to flush out the pheasants,” Talley said. “Many times, they will flush if you stand near them for a few minutes because they think that they’ve been spotted.”

Walking along ditch banks or fence lines is also a good hunting strategy. Pheasants typically prefer to run rather than fly away, so if you walk along these areas, you are more likely to drive them out into the open, where they will flush. 

“If you do choose to hunt on one of our WMAs, be willing to hike a long way away from parking areas and other hunters to increase your chances of finding the wild birds,” Talley said. 

Non Toxic shot is required at several of the WMA’s (steel shot) when hunting. Lead shot man not be used.

Quail (California and Gambel’s)

The general hunting season for Quail runs from Nov 7 to Dec 31, 2020

Hunting Quail also is different in each area of the state. According to the press release: “In northeastern Utah, much of the quail habitat is on private land, so make sure to obtain written permission from the landowner before hunting. In central Utah, the highest California quail concentrations are in urban areas, limiting most hunting opportunities.

The state DNR says: “In southeastern Utah, the brood production of California quail was perfect for the second consecutive year. Wet conditions last winter helped produce an abundant food source this spring and summer. Quail are not widespread in southeastern Utah, but there are localized populations near farmlands along the Colorado and Green rivers, as well as in lower Huntington Canyon and along the Price River.”

“Quail numbers are fairly low in much of southern Utah, but their populations are improving in Kane and Garfield counties, and they can be located south and east of Kanab, along the Arizona state line. The Gambel’s quail numbers in Washington County are slightly up from last year. Hunters should look for quail in the brushy washes of western Washington County.”

Hunting tips:

What you should look for when hunting quail “California and Gambel’s quail are hunted using similar methods — just in different habitats.  When hunting Gambel’s quail, look for Joshua trees, dry washes, and draws with black brush or desert almond. California quail will occupy washes containing water and brushy cover and will eat flowers from grasses, trees, and shrubs, as well as seeds and leaves.”

“It’s best to hunt quail with a trained hunting dog since quail would rather hunker down and hide than fly away,” Talley said. “Holding the quail in place with a dog will enable you to get close enough to flush the birds and get a shot. If you don’t have a dog, you can still hunt quail successfully. If you get close enough to running quail before they fly, you can still get a good shot.”

Youth Hunts:

The statewide youth pheasant hunt will occur from Oct. 31 to Nov. 5, and pheasants will be released just before the hunt. The statewide youth quail hunt will take place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. If you were 17 years of age or younger on July 31, and you’ve completed Hunter Education, you can participate in the hunt. If you haven’t yet finished Hunter Education — and you’re at least 12 years old — you still might be able to participate through Utah’s Trial Hunting program. You must also have a hunting license and follow all of the state’s upland game hunting rules.

Hunters can also participate in the Upland Game Slam

Hunters are urged to check the 2020-21 Upland Game and Turkey Guidebook for details on regulations for hunting each species, including the legal weapons for each upland game species.

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