Lack of Pheasant in the Fort Boise WMA

Question:

I am an Idaho bird hunter, Like many of us who enjoy pheasant hunting, I have used the Fort Boise WMA for pheasant hunts over the past seven seasons. There was a time when a three hour trip through the fields of the WMA would yield a bird or two, give my dog a good workout and provide an exciting hunt.

Not anymore. It seems there has been a serious cutback on birds released. Where Saturday used to be the best day of the week, there is now a silence, no shotguns blasting, no pheasants squawking. A few more shutouts and the WMA begins to lose its shine.

What is puzzling to me and to others who share in my disappointment is how easy it would be to provide a better hunt for those who purchase permits. I would gladly pay twenty dollars more for a permit knowing birds would be dropped on popular days, ie., Saturday and Sunday. But to pay the current rate of $23.75 and not see or hear one bird in three trips to the WMA doesn't quite cut it.

Please try to improve this whole process. It would be such a joy to once again have productive hunts in the WMA and to see more hunters, knowing their hunt will be productive, take advantage of this wonderful recreational resource. It would be a shame to see the WMA lose its support of the bird hunters.

Answer:

Sorry to hear you didn't have better hunting.  We stocked 3500 pheasants at Fort Boise this last season, which is more than any other WMA in the region. Of the 22 separate releases, ten were done on Fridays throughout the season, which was assumed to provide some opportunity on Saturday as well.  Next year we can try shifting some of that to Saturdays.  Having Saturday (or any other day) as predictable day of birds releases creates both a crowding and safety issue, however, so we try to vary the days somewhat. 

As far as your willingness to pay more, I'm sure we could use the help, but all fee increases are tied to legislative approval, and they didn't approve any increases in revenue this year.  Right now, each permit covers the cost of a little over one pheasant, so buying more birds at even an increased fee would still result in lost revenue, so we try to balance hunter interest in the program with what we can responsibly afford to budget to provide the opportunity.