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PRIVATE LANDOWNERS AND DOW OPEN 150,000 ACRES TO PHEASANT HUNTERS THROUGH WALK-IN PROGRAM IN 2005

Colorado pheasant hunters can begin gearing up for the season by stopping by a Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) office or license agent and picking up the 2005 Colorado Small Game Walk-In Atlas.

The Walk-In Access Program began five years ago and is designed to open private property to small game hunters, particularly pheasant hunters. The program is popular with hunters and this year there will be 150,000 acres opened to those who buy the Walk-In Access permit for $20. Hunters under the age of 16 do not need to purchase a permit to hunt the properties. An atlas with county maps depicting the locations of the properties enrolled in the program is available at DOW offices and license agents. An electronic version of the atlas maps and additional information about the program is available at: http://wildlife.state.co.us/hunt/WalkInAccess/index.asp.

The Walk-In atlas also lists the type of cover found on each enrolled property to help hunters find the types of cover they prefer to hunt. Properties are posted on site with signs at the corners or access points.

The 2005 Colorado Small Game Walk-In Atlas has some additional information that may be helpful for pheasant hunters including the small game regulations, a pheasant forecast, harvest information from previous years and tips on how to be a more successful pheasant hunter.

The upcoming Eastern Plains pheasant season will run from Nov. 12, 2005, through Jan.16, 2006, while west of I-25 the season will run from Nov. 12, 2005, through Jan. 2, 2006. The daily bag limit is three roosters and the possession limit is nine roosters.

Those who hunt the northeast portion of the state may be able to capitalize on pheasants being more concentrated due to habitat conditions.

“In the northeast, pheasant populations are very similar to, or slightly higher than 2004, which was a pretty decent year,” said Ed Gorman, state small game manager for the DOW. “Unlike 2004, hunters should expect to find birds more concentrated than normal, as a very dry summer reduced the amount of cropland habitat in northeastern Washington, northern Yuma and southern Phillips counties.

Elsewhere in the northeast, including the counties of Logan, Sedgwick, Morgan, eastern Weld, northern Phillips and southern Yuma, populations range from normal to excellent, depending upon the location and summer precipitation.”

Gorman went on to say those who hunt in the southeast portion of the state will have higher numbers of birds to look for than in years past.

“In the southeast, including Kit Carson, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Prowers and Baca counties, populations of pheasants are improved over the last few years due to timely precipitation throughout the summer,” said Gorman. “The rain also increased habitat quality in the southeast, which sometimes makes early season hunting a little more difficult, because birds can be widely dispersed.”

Hunters in the southeast should also take advantage of higher quail numbers while they are in the field.

“The southeast offers upland bird hunters an additional opportunity, as both bobwhite and scaled quail are found in Baca, Prowers and Kiowa counties. Quail populations have really improved since last season with the favorable weather conditions,” said Gorman.

Anyone who hunts small game in Colorado must purchase a small game license and must obtain a Harvest Information Program number by calling 1-866-COLOHIP or online at www.colohip.com. Small game hunters are reminded that they will need to purchase a habitat stamp to hunt in 2006. This can be purchased at DOW offices or from license agents.

Hunters who participate in the Walk-In Access Program should know that the continued success of the program depends upon hunters respecting the private property they are hunting on.

The DOW would like to thank the private landowners and the conservation groups who donated several thousand acres to the program.