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Youth get first crack at pheasants

Pheasants will be released before Oct. 12 hunt

Oct. 12 might be the perfect day to take a young person pheasant or quail hunting.

A young hunter with a pheasant she shot during Utah's youth pheasant hunt.

Those 15 years of age or younger will be the first hunters in Utah to take a pheasant this fall. Utah’s third annual youth pheasant and quail hunting day happens Oct. 12.

Photo by Lynn Chamberlain, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

On Oct. 12 — three weeks before the regular pheasant and quail hunt starts in Utah — those who are 15 years of age or younger will have the state's pheasants and quail all to themselves. That's the day Utah hosts its annual youth pheasant and quail hunting day.

To increase the chance young hunters take a bird, Division of Wildlife Resources biologists will release more than 660 pheasants on wildlife management areas, and Walk-In Access areas, across the state. And young hunters in northeastern Utah will have an even better chance at taking a bird — members of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife in northeastern Utah have purchased 200 additional pheasants to release in that part of the state.

Another special opportunity awaits in east-central Utah, where 20 lucky young hunters will get a chance to hunt pheasants with volunteer hunting guides and trained bird dogs.

After Oct. 12, the pheasant and quail hunt will close. The hunt will reopen — for hunters of all ages — on Nov. 2.

To participate in the youth hunting day, a hunter must be 15 years of age or younger on Oct. 12 and a graduate of Utah's Hunter Education course.

He or she also needs a hunting license and must follow all of the state's upland game hunting rules.

The rules are available in the free 2013–2014 Utah Upland Game and Turkey Guidebook.

Finding a place to hunt

Finding a place to hunt pheasants and quail can be challenging in Utah. With the exception of Gambel's quail in the Mohave Desert in southwestern Utah, most of Utah's pheasant and quail hunting happens on private land.

That doesn't mean you should give up and stay home, though—several good options are waiting for you:

Walk-In Access

Jason Robinson, upland game coordinator for the DWR, says the state's Walk-In Access areas are the first places you should consider.

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

More information about the Walk-In Access areas, including which ones have pheasants and quail on them, is available online.

Wildlife Management Areas

The DWR manages several wildlife management areas and waterfowl management areas, also called WMAs, across the state. Many of these WMAs have pheasants on them.

In addition to the pheasants that are already on the WMAs, most of the WMAs that have pheasant habitat will receive additional pheasants before Oct. 12.

You can learn more about Utah's WMAs by reading the free Access to Wildlife Lands in Utah book.

Special hunt

At one of the WMAs — Desert Lake southeast of Elmo in east-central Utah — a special hunt will be held on Oct. 12.

Twenty young hunters, whose names are drawn for the hunt, can hunt on the WMA with volunteer hunting guides and trained bird dogs.

Robinson says the DWR will release dozens of pheasants on the WMA before the hunt. "Between the number of birds on the WMA, the volunteer guides and the trained bird dogs," he says, "there's a good chance those who participate will take a bird."

To participate in the hunt, call 435-613-3700, or visit the DWR office in Price (319 N. Carbonville Road, Suite A), to let DWR personnel know you're interested.

The hunt on the Desert Lake WMA will start at 9 a.m. There's no cost to participate.

More information about the Desert Lake hunt, and a similar hunt that will happen in southwestern Utah on Nov. 9, is available at wildlife.utah.gov/uplandyouth.

Private land

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

Robinson encourages you to be polite and understanding if a landowner doesn't give you access. "If you get access," he says, "make sure you respect the landowner's property by leaving it better than you found it."

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

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 pheasants.

California quail aren't as widespread in the state as pheasants, 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 much easier to access — they're found almost entirely on public land in the Mohave Desert in the central and western parts of Washington County.

More information

If you have questions about the youth pheasant and quail hunt, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at 801-538-4700.

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