OLYMPIA, Wash. - Hunters in Washington state can begin pursuing a variety of upland birds Saturday, including quail, chukar and gray partridge, and conditions appear favorable for another good season, according to biologists with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Opening day of pheasant hunting in eastern Washington is Oct. 18, and hunters should find improved opportunities in some areas of the region, said Mick Cope, WDFW upland game manager.

"Spring and summer weather conditions were favorable for upland game bird production in many areas of the state," Cope said, adding that biologists are estimating quail numbers to be at or above recent-year levels.

"Chukar and gray partridge populations in some areas may even be higher than those of recent years," he said.

"While these birds may not be as popular quarry as other upland birds, hunters can get away from the crowds and have a tremendous hunting experience in search of these elusive birds," Cope said.

Hunters interested in pursuing upland game birds and pheasants in eastern Washington must purchase a small game license for $32.85. Licenses can be purchased at hundreds of retail outlets throughout the state, or through the WDFW Web site at (www.wa.gov/wdfw/) on the Internet.

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