by Connor Jay Liess
2021 fall pheasant season is in full swing as upland hunters take to nearly two dozen Wildlife Management Areas and private property access agreement sites across the state. The ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus for you bird nerds out there) is amongst the most colorful game bird species found in Idaho, and WMAs are a popular place to hunt them. Pheasants are often found in lowland fields and brushy roadsides, and sport an uncanny copper-and-gold plumage with a bright red and green head.
Fish and Game will stock 37,000 pheasants across the 23 permitted areas, including 14 WMAs. That’s an average of roughly 1,600 birds per release property.
In recent years, Fish and Game staff has solicited local input from those with an affinity for pheasants and doubled the traditional number of pheasant stocking sites across the Gem State.
“Pheasants are the most popular game bird species for upland game hunters in the state,” said Jeff Knetter, Upland Game and Migratory Game Bird Coordinator. “Hunters and supporters of pheasant hunting asked us to expand the pheasant stocking program to include additional properties.”
So what does this mean for hunters? For residents and nonresidents alike, fall in Idaho is arguably the high point of the hunting season. The trees are vibrant, the air is crisp and pure, and many game species are available for hunters to have a truly interactive experience with nature.
Because pheasants often inhabit private agriculture lands, gaining access to these prized birds can be a challenge, so Fish and Game provides its WMAs for an easily accessible place to go pheasant hunting. The department also partners with private landowners to provide additional access to pheasant hunting and stocks birds at these locations. WMAs and other stocking sites offer hunters a golden opportunity to access pheasant-rich hunting properties up and down the state with no shortage of fall scenery.
Pheasant hunting at WMAs and other stocking areas have special rules hunters must follow:
- Any person 18 years of older must have a valid Upland Game Bird Permit in possession while hunting pheasants on properties where pheasants are released. Each permit allows a possession limit of six birds and multiple permits may be purchased. Permits are available at Fish and Game vendors or at regional offices.
- Shooting hours for upland game birds on Upland Game Bird Permit Release Areas are 10 a.m. to one-half hour after sunset, except for those areas in the Clearwater Region where shooting hours would be 8 a.m. to one-half hour after sunset.
- All upland game bird hunters are required to wear visible hunter orange (minimum size 36 square inches) above the waist during pheasant season when hunting on WMAs or other locations where pheasants are stocked. A hunter orange hat meets this requirement.
Pheasant hunting at WMAs and other stocking locations is very popular in the fall, so hunters shouldn’t expect to be alone when they’re hunting, and can expect crowds during weekends, holidays and other peak periods. It’s a good reminder to hunters to practice patience and hunting etiquette when faced with crowded fields and parking lots.
For additional details, hunters should consult the current upland seasons and rules brochure available at all license vendors, Fish and Game offices, and online.