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Youth get first crack at pheasants

Young hunters will be the first hunters to pursue Utah's most popular upland game bird this fall.

Utah's second annual youth pheasant and quail hunting day happens Oct. 13, 2012

Those 15 years of age or younger will be the first hunters to take a pheasant in Utah this fall. Utah's second annual youth pheasant and quail hunting day happens Oct. 13, 2012.

Photo by Alan Peterson

On Oct. 13—three weeks before the regular pheasant hunt starts—those who are 15 years of age or younger can hunt pheasants in Utah.

Quail can also be taken that day.

After Oct. 13, the pheasant and quail hunt will close. The hunt will reopen—for hunters of all ages—on Nov. 3.

Jason Robinson, upland game coordinator for the DWR, says holding special youth days—before the birds have been hunted and when adults aren't allowed to hunt—is a great way to get young people interested in hunting.

"Hunting upland game is the perfect way to introduce young people to hunting," Robinson says. "Many people who are hunters today got interested in hunting by hunting upland game when they were younger."

And since adults can't hunt the same species the youth are hunting, it gives adults plenty of time to help young hunters learn about the habitats pheasants prefer and how to handle their firearm safely.

To participate in the youth hunt, a hunter must be 15 years of age or younger on Oct. 13 and a graduate of Utah's Hunter Education course.

He or she also needs a hunting license.

Finding a place to hunt

Finding a place to hunt is a challenge pheasant and quail hunters face in Utah. With the exception of Gambel's quail, which live in the Mohave Desert in southwestern Utah, most of Utah's pheasant and quail hunting happens on private land.

That doesn't mean you need to give up and stay home, though. Several good options are waiting for you:

Walk-In Access

Robinson says the state's Walk-In Access areas are the first places you should consider hunting.

Walk-In Access areas are private property that's been opened to public hunters and anglers through agreements the landowners have made with the DWR.

Robinson says the number of properties in the program keeps growing. "Many of the Walk-In Access properties have pheasants and quail on them," he says. "If you're looking for a place to hunt, the Walk-In Access areas are the first places I'd try."

You can learn more about the Walk-In Access areas—and see which ones have pheasants and quail on them—on our website.

You can hunt on the WIA properties for free, but if you're 14 or 15 years old, you must obtain a free Walk-in Access authorization number first

Wildlife Management Areas

The DWR manages several wildlife management areas. Many of these WMAs have pheasants on them.

In addition to the pheasants that are already on the WMAs, the DWR will release additional rooster pheasants on some WMAs, in all five of its regions, before Oct. 13.

You can learn more about Utah's WMAs by reading the "Access to Wildlife Lands in Utah" book. The free book is available at wildlife.utah.gov/publications.

Private land

Another option is getting written permission from a private landowner to hunt on his or her property.

Since most of Utah's pheasant hunting happens on private land, Robinson says the youth hunting day will give young hunters and their parents a chance to talk with landowners about hunting their property. "I think this will be a good experience for these young hunters," he says. "It will give them a chance to get to know landowners and understand the vital role landowners play in conserving habitat for wildlife."

Robinson says you should not wait until the morning of the hunt to contact a landowner about hunting his or her property. "You need to get this permission before the hunt begins," he says.

Robinson also encourages you to be polite and understanding if a landowner doesn't give you access. "But if they do give you access to their property," he says, "you should be in for a great experience. And if you respect the property and take care of it, you should be invited back for years to come."

Finding pheasants and quail

Robinson says farm land in Box Elder, Weber, Davis, Tooele, Utah, Juab, Millard, Duchesne and Uintah counties are among the best places to find pheasants in Utah. Many of the wetlands near Utah Lake and Great Salt Lake also hold good numbers of birds.

California quail aren't as widespread in Utah, but good numbers of California quail are found in parts of Duchesne, Uintah and Juab counties.

Good numbers of California quail are also found in parts of Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties, but most of these birds are within city limits where hunting is not allowed.

Gambel's quail are a little easier to access—they're found almost entirely on public land in the Mohave Desert in southwestern Utah.

More information

For more information about the youth pheasant and quail hunting opportunity, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at 801-538-4737.

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