Continuing the look at upland birds, we're focusing on some foreign nationals - pheasants, chukar and huns. Again, information given here has been used as a basis for the recommended seasons from 2005 to 2010 and was used to determine the proposed seasons and bag limits by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Locally, pheasant are somewhat hard to find, but good populations exist on private lands here and there, and hunters will need to find locations where they can obtain permission to hunt. Pheasant have a preference for areas near cultivated cropland, which does make for some conflicts. Shooting safety around livestock and farm property cannot be stressed enough.
Chukar and huns can be found in wilder setting where livestock and property are not as great a concern, but terrain inhabited by the birds in our area is often rough, rocky and steep, making hunting difficult.
Ring-necked and Sichuan Pheasant
Proposed 2005-2010 season dates: From the Saturday on or nearest Oct. 15 through the Sunday on or nearest Dec. 11.
Daily Bag/Possession limits: 2 rooster pheasants/8 rooster pheasants.
Ring-necked pheasant populations vary considerably throughout Oregon, with moderate, but huntable, numbers occurring in portions of eastern Oregon. Sichuan pheasant populations are now scattered in low numbers in many areas of western Oregon, according to ODFW. Success in the introduction of Sichuan pheasants has been limited and many birds occur in areas with no public access. Huge populations of the birds are not necessary for hunting, and areas with limited pheasant numbers can continue to provide opportunities since only roosters are legal game. Ratios as wide as one rooster to 10 hens have been demonstrated to provide adequate egg fertility, which allows pheasant to be heavily hunted without endangering populations.
Pheasant hunting is very popular with Oregon hunters, but little can be done to reverse the landscape changes that have occurred over several decades, with the increase of posted, fenced and developed land area. Fee pheasant hunts have become more popular in western Oregon as a solution to the trouble hunters have accessing private areas and ODFW will consider the expansion of such hunts.
Chukar and Gray (Hungarian) Partridge
Proposed 2005-2010 season dates in Umatilla and Morrow Counties: From the Saturday on or nearest Oct. 8 through Dec. 31. Proposed season dates in remainder of eastern Oregon: From the Saturday on or nearest Oct. 8 through Jan. 31.
Daily Bag/Possession limits: 8/24.
Chukar habitat in Oregon is both widespread and relatively secure. By its nature it is also difficult to hunt under most circumstances.
Factors most affecting chukar populations are severe winters and wet conditions during the hatching period. With no other species is the self-limiting nature of upland bird hunting better demonstrated than with chukars.
In years and in areas when populations are low, hunting pressure and harvest diminishes dramatically as hunters simply cannot find the birds.
Populations have on numerous occasions shown the ability to quickly rebound without the implementation of restrictive harvest regulations, which means that ODFW can let the birds take care of themselves. While chukar populations throughout most of their range in Oregon are not limited by hunter harvest, the take of birds is sometimes greatly increased when severe weather forces birds to areas that have good hunter access.
Hungarian partridge are usually hunted incidentally with chukars, and sometimes pheasants. Habitat is more limited for this species, but population characteristics are similar to chukars.
An option to open the season in mid-September and end the season on Dec. 31 in Baker and Wallowa Counties was considered but is not proposed at this time.