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Productive hatch keeps bird hunters out late in season

Pheasant and gray partridge hunting seasons wrapped up Jan. 1, and hunters continued to see success until the last days. According to Art Soukkala, who works with the Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation Division of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, he has been hearing positive reviews from hunters about the amount of bird habitat land that has been restored.

“This year was better than last,” Soukkala said last week. “we’re still seeing pheasant hunters out there, and if it was a bad hatch, the hunters would stop hunting.”

The fact that hunter numbers remained high until the end of the season is a positive sign for wildlife researchers that there are healthy populations of birds throughout the Mission Valley. This is good news, as the opening day of the season is the only time biologists have track stations available to gauge bird numbers.

“That’s the only time we have any numbers,” Soukkala said. “The rest of the season there are no check requirements, so we have no idea of harvest numbers.”

Soukkala added the lack of snow really doesn’t effect the hunting of pheasant and partridge like it does for ducks.

With snow cover, pheasant like to hit clusters of cattails for cover, but spread out to a more spacious area when there is no snow, as more habitat is available.

According to Soukkala, both pheasant and gray partridge are fun birds to hunt, and even better to eat.

“A lot of people also like to hunt over a good bird dog,” he said. “And it’s also an enjoyable way to spend a day in the wild.”

Hunters are also reminded that the shooting hours for ducks, mergansers, geese and coots change after Jan. 1. The shooting hours for the period from Jan. 2-13 are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset of each day.

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