Archive for the ‘Pheasants Forever’ Category

Field Report: Pheasant Nesting Habitat Conditions

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014


Nesting conditions were favorable across much of the Midwest this spring, and drought-stricken regions across the Great Plains and the western reaches of pheasant country finally received a respite. Summer brood surveys conducted in July and August will be the best indicator of what upland hunters can expect afield, but in areas with available habitat, overall conditions appear more promising than last season in many states. Pheasants Forever’s annual Pheasants Hunting Forecast will be released in September. To receive it, sign up here.

Quail Forever’s Quail Nesting Habitat Conditions report will be released in early August.

Colorado - While spring call counts were down 44 percent from last year, drought conditions have moderated across much of the state’s core pheasant range, according to Ed Gorman, small game manager with the Colorado Division of Wildlife. “Overall nesting conditions are good, but the spring breeding population is much lower in 2014 than in previous years,” Gorman says, “Conditions range from significantly better to slightly better depending on the specific area.

Idaho – Like many states in the west, a mild winter with subsequent spring rains left Idaho’s upland habitat in excellent shape for nesting upland birds, according to Jeff Knetter, gamebird biologist with the Idaho Fish and Game Department.

Illinois – Mild weather conditions persisted across much of the Illinois pheasant range, but despite the window Mother Nature provided, poor upland habitat conditions continue to plague the state’s pheasant population. “Nesting cover is limited and many areas have too much aesthetic mowing during critical nesting periods,” says Stan McTaggart, Illinois Department of Natural Resources program manager for agriculture and grasslands, “Many of the available grassy areas (i.e. waterways, buffer strips and older CRP plantings) are too thick to provide good nesting cover. Areas that are properly managed have had decent weather to support successful nesting.”

Indiana - Results from Indiana’s spring crow count had just been concluded at publish time and will be included in Pheasants Forever’s annual Pheasant Hunting Forecast in early Sept.

Iowa - Iowa’s unseasonably cold and snowy winter and wet spring is not likely to boost its pheasant population. Pheasants typically show population increases following mild winters with spring that are warmer and dryer than normal. Based on that weather model, the western third of Iowa has the best chance to see an uptick in pheasants due to below average snowfall and less than eight inches of spring rain. The weather model predicts the rest of the state to see either no population increase or fewer birds than last year.

Kansas – Kansas’ 2014 pheasant crowing survey indicated a 7 percent decrease statewide, or very similar numbers to last year, according to Jeff Prendergast, small game biologist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. And while drought led to poor upland habitat conditions early in the spring, precipitation in May began greatly improving nesting and brood-rearing conditions. “Summer rains delayed wheat harvest and created excellent conditions for re-nesting,” Prendergast notes.

Minnesota - For the second consecutive year, Minnesota experienced late-season snowstorms and a wet spring. This was followed by extremely heavy rainfall amounts during June, especially during the first three weeks of the month during which the peak pheasant hatch typically occurs, according Nicole Davros, upland game project leader with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

June 2014 was Minnesota’s wettest June (and wettest month) of modern record, with most areas of the state’s pheasant range receiving more than 8” of rainfall – and some receiving 10”-14”. “Extreme cold paired with heavy rains can significantly reduce chick survival, but it is worth noting that average monthly temperatures were close to normal during June. The near-normal temperatures may have helped reduce the number of young chicks lost due to weather exposure,” Davros said.

Reports of pheasant broods being sighted have trickled in slower than usual. “Young broods were observed even after heavy rainfall events in June which is good news indicating that some young chicks survived the rains. Although hens that successfully hatched chicks and later lost them will not re-nest, any hens that lost their eggs to the heavy rains will have time to re-nest. Overall reports so far indicate that the peak pheasant hatch may be slightly delayed this year. Sportsmen and women might expect to see some fairly young birds in the fields again this fall.”

Montana - Montana pheasants came through winter mostly unscathed thanks to mild weather, and nesting conditions were promising during the prime production period. In fact, last year’s favorable weather generated some of the best habitat conditions in Montana in a long time.

Nebraska - Will be updated soon.

North Dakota - North Dakota’s spring pheasant population index is up slightly from last year, according to the State Game and Fish Department’s 2014 spring crowing count survey. Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor, said the number of roosters heard crowing this spring was up about 6 percent statewide from 2013, with increases ranging from 2 percent in the northwest to 9 percent in the southeast.

Last year, the fall population was down from 2012 because of rather poor production, but Kohn said low winter pheasant mortality, particularly in the southern one-third of the state, helped boost this year’s spring count.

Another positive is that abundant moisture has provided for good habitat conditions heading into the prime nesting period.  “Spring weather has been pretty good for nesting/early brood rearing,” Kohn said, “The only possible impact might be heavy rains (2”-6”) in the southwest part of state, the heart of the pheasant range.  We’re not sure yet what impacts may have resulted from these heavy that came when chicks were hatching to 10 days old.” Overall, Kohn expected nesting success to be average to above average.

Oklahoma – Scott Cox, upland game biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, says a few more pheasants are being seen this year compared to this time last year, thanks to decent moisture that broke more than two years of drought. Coming off a season in which hunters harvested nearly 35,000 ringnecks, the improved conditions – forbs and grass height have rebounded – have Cox cautiously optimistic about nesting this year.

Oregon - Coming off a season in which hunters harvested their lowest number of pheasants in the past two decades (19,930 birds), Oregon looks poised for a slight rebound. Winter/spring precipitation during 2014 was still below average but improved over 2013,” says Dave Budeau, upland game bird coordinator with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Production is expected to improve over last year.”

South Dakota - Weather conditions were favorable for pheasant production over most of the primary pheasant range from late April through June, reports Travis Runia, South Dakota Game, Fish and Park’s lead pheasant biologist. “Below normal winter snowfall likely resulted in above average overwinter survival of pheasants,” Runia said, “With more hens available for nesting, the potential for an increase in population exists, given favorable nesting conditions.”

Runia says adequate spring moisture and normal temperatures have allowed grasses and forbs to flourish. “Reproductive success should be good in areas where large blocks of nesting habitat remain,” he adds. The major exception was record flooding in extreme southeastern South Dakota.  “Areas around Sioux Falls shattered all time June rainfall records, which almost certainly resulted in destroyed nests and reduced survival of pheasant chicks,” Runia says.

Washington - Pheasant hunters here are optimistic about nesting success, as adequate April moisture had cover looking lush, according to Joey McCanna, upland game bird specialist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Wisconsin - The winter of 2013-14 provided some challenges for pheasants across Wisconsin, and conditions in localized areas may have been severe enough to impact survival or bird numbers. “This was a more severe winter than usual across much of Wisconsin’s pheasant range, with bitterly cold temperatures and persistent snow cover,” said Scott Walter, Wisconsin DNR upland wildlife ecologist. Snow persisted into April across much of Wisconsin’s pheasant range, and persistent rain into June may have dampened production. “Whether or not spring weather conditions impacted pheasant production levels will be determined when we see the results of our summer brood surveys, and will really depend upon the timing of heavy rains relative to the peak hatch period. We did have weeks of relatively dry weather in June, and hopefully these provided a window of good survival for pheasant chicks,” added Walter.

Field Notes are compiled by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor. Email Anthony at and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

Dog of the Day: “Gunner”

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014


“Gunner” is Jacob Case’s 8-week-old English pointer. “The day we got him, he was pointing to his toy!”

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor, at

PF Sets Up Shop in South Dakota with New Regional HQ

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014


Last month, Pheasants Forever announced plans to open a regional headquarters in South Dakota. Today, we’re proud to announce we’ve got a new address at the South Dakota Innovation Center located in the Research Park at South Dakota State University (SDSU).

Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s long-time Vice President of Government Affairs, has moved to Brookings, South Dakota and is excited about the Innovation Center. “When you think about opening up a brand new office, things like copy machines and coffee makers aren’t items at the forefront of your mind. In the Innovation Center, we’ve found the perfect setting for meetings with our partners and an environment conducive to our success. This facility has all the amenities necessary to get our operations off the ground in a hurry, so Pheasants Forever can stay focused on the real problem of turning the tide for habitat,” explained Nomsen.

“The Growth Partnership is excited to provide the space to facilitate collaboration between Pheasants Forever, SDSU, the region and the state of South Dakota,” said Dwaine Chapel, Executive Director of the Innovation Center. “Pheasants Forever will provide enhanced opportunity to connect with campus research associated with biosciences. Research partnerships provide solid connectivity between faculty while providing intern and career opportunities to students. The Research Park concept is designed to encourage these relationships. It is great to be a part of the first regional headquarters for Pheasants Forever.”

Contact Pheasants Forever’s South Dakota Regional Office:
2301 Research Park Way
Suite 152
Brookings, SD 57006

Dave Nomsen
(605) 864-8138

Field Notes are compiled by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor. Email Anthony at and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

Bird Dogs, Baseball and Bucks with Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014


Pheasants Forever, the Minnesota Twins and Brian Dozier announced a fun partnership to raise money for upland habitat this summer.  The Twins have set aside 500 tickets to the game on Friday, August 15th in “Dozier’s Deck” that include a camouflage jersey t-shirt featuring Dozier’s name and number in blaze orange.  A portion of each ticket sold will then be donated to Pheasants Forever’s wildlife habitat conservation mission.

Dozier DeckShirtDozier is more than just an emerging cornerstone slugging second baseman (he recently competed in the MLB All Star Game Home run Derby), he’s an avid outdoorsman. “It’s my favorite hobby…my wife says I do it more than I should,” he says of his passion for hunting. The Mississippi native grew up pursuing deer (harvesting his first when he was 6-years-old) and divvies his outdoor pursuits between bowhunting whitetails, wingshooting for doves and ducks and calling in turkeys.

Like most hunters who have invested countless hours outdoors, Dozier has an appreciation for the land and spends time on the habitat side of the ledger at his family’s property, including planting food plots and brush management. It’s work that’s led to the creation of a couple honey holes. “When hunting with my nephew or with kids, we’re always guaranteed to see something,” Dozier says.

The lengthy 162-game schedule cuts into the early part of autumn – see, there’s a downside to being a big leaguer – a time when many hunters are first heading afield. But on both his Twins ball club and many opposing teams, Dozier finds the company of those who share his love of the outdoors. “Like when we play the White Sox, Gordon Beckham (Chicago’s second baseman) will be texting me his trail cam pics. It’s like that around the league.” Dozier says outfielder Josh Willingham and pitchers Brian Duensing, Jared Burton and Glen Perkins are his outdoor-oriented teammates on the Twins roster.

Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier (middle) is an avid bow hunter and wingshooter.

Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier (middle) is an avid bow hunter and wingshooter.

Last offseason, a new 12 gauge Benelli found its way into Dozier’s collection – shh, his wife doesn’t know yet – and he has plans to finally add pheasants to his list of species hunted in the coming offseason. And he knows one thing will inevitably lead to another. “In the next couple years I’m looking at getting a dog,” Dozier says. This interest has been spurred by hunting with his father-in-law’s pair of competition-trained Labs. “I’ve really loved hunting with them, they’re excellent retrievers and really good at blood tracking.”

He looks to finish the baseball season just as he started it – on a tear. He currently leads the Twins in home runs and runs batted in, and has been among the league leaders in runs scored all season. Then it’s on with deer hunting plans in Mississippi, a return trip to Illinois’ famed Pike County for a bow hunt and that first pheasant hunt; Dozier lives a life of two seasons – the regular season and hunting season.

There will also be the task of performing on his promotional night against the Kansas City Royals, one Dozier is looking forward to. “They got a lot of city boys on that team,” Dozier said with his southern accent and a big grin.

Pheasants Forever would sincerely like to thank Brian Dozier and the Minnesota Twins for helping raise awareness for our wildlife habitat conservation mission. Pheasants, ducks, grouse, quail, deer, turkeys, water quality, pollinators and every person in Twins Territory benefit from the wildlife habitat we create. Hope to see you at the game.

Minnesota Twins Ticket Information

Game Info: Friday, August 15th.  7:10PM game versus the Kansas City Royals at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis

Special Pheasants Forever Promotion: Skyline Deck Ticket + Dozier Camo Jersey T-shirt:  $35.  Order online at


Call 800-33-TWINS (hit “0” for attendant) by Friday, August 8th.  Phone lines are open during business hours and most evenings and weekends during Twins games. Be sure to reference Dozier’s Deck ticket offer. Seats are available on a first come, first served base, and demand for these tickets will likely go very fast!

Photos courtesy of the Minnesota Twins

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor. Email Anthony at and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

Dog of the Day: “Dandy”

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014


“Without fail, every day when I telework, my 3-year-old German shorthaired pointer Yankee Doodle ‘Dandy’ stops by my office to remember last year’s hunt,” says Ted Hagert of Antioch, Ill., “Hopefully, this fall will be the year we finally complete the double and take home two roosters from one flush.”

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor, at

Minnesota: Apply Now for Mentored Upland Bird Hunts

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Picture 182

Families and youth can apply now for an opportunity to hunt with experienced upland bird hunters on Saturday, Oct. 18.

The mentored hunts are being offered through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Pheasants Forever and the Ruffed Grouse Society. The application deadline is Tuesday, Sept. 2.

“Those new to bird hunting can learn techniques, equipment needs and the skills to be safe and successful in the outdoors,” said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator.

In the youth hunt, youth must be 12-17 years old as of Oct. 18, have earned a firearms safety certificate and possess a small game license if required. Youth must have a parent, guardian or adult authorized by a parent or guardian accompany them as a mentor, without a firearm. The adult must also go with the youth during the pre-hunt orientation.

In the family hunt, all participants can hunt, but they need to be 12 and older, have little to no pheasant hunting experience, and have the appropriate safety certificate, stamp and license.

Applications and more details about the hunt are available online at or by contacting Kurre at 651-259-5193 or Successful applicants will be notified via mail or email by the end of September.

Field Notes are compiled by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

Dog of the Day: “Alley”

Monday, July 28th, 2014



“Alley,” affectionately known as Alleygirl, was the best pheasant hunting dog Kerry Pettit ever had. “She never lost a bird,” Kerry says of Alley, who passed away last year at the age of 13. Pictured with Kerry (above) are his sons, Gaige and Zander.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor, at

Dog of the Day: “Nadeleine”

Friday, July 25th, 2014


Mountain Star Nadeleine, shown here at a training session, is Sandy Klein’s Irish red and white setter.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor, at

Dog of the Day: “Reed”

Thursday, July 24th, 2014


Drew Murphy has been working on retrieving drills with his new golden retriever pup, “Reed.”

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor, at

Dog of the Day: “Stella”

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014


Garrett Mikrut and his 3-year-old German shorthaired pointer, “Stella,” found these ruffed grouse last season. “She pointed one bird 100 yards in the woods. When I approached, the grouse flushed and Stella retrieved the bird.  On the way back to the trail, Stella pointed the second grouse and she retrieved that one as well,” Mikrut says.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor, at