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Pheasant Opener Set For This Saturday, October 21st

IDAHO FALLS - Amidst the ongoing flurry of opening days it's easy to let one slip by, but bird hunters are sure to remember that pheasant season in the Upper Snake Region starts this Saturday, October 21. While populations of these exotic birds to be found out in the "wild" remains relatively low, sportsmen looking to bag a ringneck will have more opportunity to do so this year, thanks to increased stocking of game farm reared birds at IDFG Wildlife Management Areas (WMA's). Pheasant hunters in the Upper Snake have a variety of options available when it comes to looking for a place to hunt ringnecks. They can either hunt on private or public lands that are open to hunting or they can hunt at an IDFG WMA. These WMA's are different from wildlife refuges in that while they contain habitat that is critical for wildlife, they also utilize hunting as a management tool. This year not only are more birds being stocked, but Cartier WMA outside of Rexburg is being added to the stocking rotation. In order to help defray the cost of stocking pheasants purchased from private game farms, IDFG instituted a WMA pheasant permit program in 1996. Given that game farms birds cost about $10.00 each to purchase, the permit has always been a bargin no matter what the cost. According to Don Kemner, the regional habitat biologist that runs Martket Lake WMA, "This year the permits cost $21.50 and allows you to harvest a total of six birds. " One major change this year is that hunters can continue to buy additional permits once they fill their existing permit. Another plus for sportsmen is that because of a change in the license structure as a result of the recent fee increase, the upland game validation is now automatically included with all hunting licenses when they are purchased. Because limited reproduction occurs in the wild, pheasants can also be found on private lands, but it is important to follow all posted warnings and regulations. Hunters are also reminded that in Idaho, agricultural lands do not need to be posted for "No Trespassing," so it is important to get permission even if fields are unfenced and unsigned. This also includes Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands which are treated as agricultural lands, even though they are part of a federally funded program. Asking permission from landowners to hunt is the surest way to avoid problems! The daily bag limit on a WMA is only two, which is one less than the limit of three everywhere else in the state. After the first day of the season the possession limit is four on a WMA and six for everywhere else in the state. As always, only male pheasants (cocks) are open to harvest. There is no open season for females (hens). SEASON DOES NOT START UNTIL NOON ON OPENING DAY IN SOUTHERN PORTION OF STATE (INCLUDES I.F. AREA)!