Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota pheasant hunting’
Friday, April 12th, 2013
As a wildlife enthusiast who enjoys diverse landscapes, as well as a wingshooter who’s succumbed to the addiction of hunting wild ringnecks, it’s been nothing short of tragic to witness the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) – often referred to as the “holy grail” of conservation programs – withering away the past five years.
If you’re a pheasant hunter and a conservationist, you’ve likely seen these facts before, and even so, they bear repeating. Consider that:
- In prime pheasant habitat, a 4 percent increase in CRP grassland acres was associated with a 22 percent increase in pheasant counts (source: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture).
- In 2006, Pheasants Forever estimated of the then 36 million-plus CRP acres nationwide, 25.5 million constituted in the pheasant range were responsible for producing 13.5 million pheasants annually.
Unfortunately, the U.S. has lost 9.7 million acres of CRP land in just five years and there are now just 27 million CRP acres nationwide. This mass exodus of wildlife habitat has cut right through the heart of pheasant country.
|State||2007 CRP Acreage||2013 CRP Acreage||Percent Decline|
|South Dakota||1.56 million||978,257||37 percent|
|North Dakota||3.39 million||1.79 million||54 percent|
|Kansas||3.26 million||2.37 million||27 percent|
|Minnesota||1.83 million||1.4 million||23 percent|
|Nebraska||1.34 million||895,251||33 percent|
|Iowa||1.97 million||1.53 million||22 percent|
|Montana||3.48 million||2 million||42 percent|
In two states, South Dakota and Nebraska, total CRP acreage has fallen below 1 million acres, a baseline number many biologists and hunters feel is critical to maintaining quality pheasant numbers, as CRP is so essential for pheasant production.
While another 3.3 million acres expire from the program on September 30th, we have the opportunity to cancel out that loss with a four-week general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program that begins May 20. While landowners have trended away from CRP in today’s commodity crop-rich environment, CRP remains the single most effective and widest-ranging upland habitat tool in existence. And to help end the withering, Pheasants Forever strongly urges Congress to pass a new 5-year Farm Bill that includes a strong Conservation Reserve Program.
Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
Jeff Smith and his son, P.J., first spotted this white rooster pheasant near Jeff’s home in rural Zumbrota on opening day of Minnesota’s 2012 pheasant hunting season. The bird flushed a few hundreds ahead of their hunting group, and with its mostly white color, they figured the bird would be too visible to predators and wouldn’t last long in the wild.
But this rooster had a knack for avoiding danger, Jeff and P.J. included. “He eluded our guns all season,” Jeff said, “The bird always jumped 50 yards ahead of the dogs’ initial points and flew around a brushy hillside near a river bottom. The bird would flush wild again upon our second approach.”
On December 28th, they tried a different strategy, with P.J. staying at the top of the hill while one of his friends circled the river bottom. When P.J.’s setters, “Bella,” a 9-year-old tri-color and “Penny,” a 10-year old lemon and white, when on point, the white rooster once again moved and busted out 150 yards ahead. This time, P.J. was right where he needed to be. “The bird made the mistake of flying over my son on the top of the hill,” Jeff said, “It was a good passing shot.”
Jeff and P.J. regularly hunt and train dogs in Goodhue County, frequently visiting publicly accessible wildlife management areas that the local Goodhue County Pheasants Forever chapter has contributed dollars and efforts to. But they’d never seen anything like this once-in-a-lifetime longtail. Other than a few black specks on the neck and breast, the bird is snow white, including the tail and legs. To commemorate the hunt, P.J. had the bird mounted in flight. “This is the only white pheasant I’ve seen in 50 years of pheasant hunting,” Jeff said, “It is a magnificent bird!”
Friday, January 4th, 2013
As I contemplate my recreational options for the first weekend in January, my pheasant hunting choices are rapidly disappearing. Pheasant hunting in my home state of Minnesota closed on New Year’s Day not to reopen till mid-October; ten long months away. So now what do I do with my weekends?
Although Kansas and Nebraska have provided excellent January destinations for me in the past, I don’t have the time available this year to make those trips from my Minnesota home.
Both South Dakota and North Dakota’s seasons extend through Sunday, while Iowa’s continues through the 10th of January, so this trio of states does indeed provide a more manageable option from Minnesota.
Local game farm hunt clubs also provide a closer, yet pricier, alternative to run my pair of shorthairs and shoulder the scattergun. While the hunting isn’t near as challenging as a wild bird adventure, my dogs delight in January and February days filled with a nose full of pheasant at the local hunt club.
The reality of my situation is one we all confront this time of year, the winding down of pheasant season and the ten month wait for another opening day.
What do you do when your state’s pheasant hunting closes for the year? Do you travel to a different state, hit the game farm, find a friend with a beagle to chase rabbits or drill a hole in the ice and go fishing?
Friday, December 7th, 2012
Minnesota’s midseason pheasant hunting could turn into late season pheasant hunting in a hurry, as the first winter storm of the season is predicted to move through the state’s pheasant range this weekend. Dry conditions have persisted all fall, so hunters and dogs alike will welcome the moisture, as well as the additional rooster that can be added to the game bag (from two to three daily) through the remainder of the season.
Here with on-the-ground hunting and habitat reports are Pheasants Forever staff members in Minnesota:
Pheasant hunting in Big Stone County has been average. There are a decent number of birds but due to the lack of snow cover and cold weather, birds are spread out and are jumpy. Hunters are putting their time in to shoot their roosters. Large blocks of grass with interspersed cattail wetlands offer the best opportunities. The concern is what will happen to bird numbers the following year if a harsh winter sets in and upland habitat loss continues.
- Eric Magedanz, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist, Pheasants Forever – Ortonville
For Lyon County, the pheasant hunting has been pretty good. With just about all the fields harvested before pheasant season started, one would think that this would bring more nonresidents and out-of-area hunters to the Marshall area, thereby increasing the pressure on the Wildlife Management Areas in the area and leading to decreased hunting success. Whether hunting public or private land in the area, I’ve noticed little difference in quality of cover and bird numbers, and have actually probably harvested a couple more birds on public than on the private land. As other reports from South Dakota mentioned, there are a lot of hens being flushed, which is good to see. Personally, my best success has come from hunting smaller areas-buffer strips, small dried up wetlands – anything else you can find along the water. Keeping quiet and working fast has also increased success this year.
For Lac Qui Parle County, the report is very similar. A lot of birds are being seen, whether on private or public land. Hunters have been reporting success in the buffer strips and other small pieces as well. The local Pheasants Forever chapter recently closed on a new parcel of land that has excellent existing cover, and should be a prime hunting spot for chasing late season roosters! The habitat in Lac Qui Parle is some of the best in the state, with numerous wetlands and dense vegetation on both private and public land. Even with the drought, the late season hunting should be great just about anywhere you go. With a little luck and some much needed winter snows (cross your fingers!), there should be some great late season hunting stories to be told this year. Good luck and hunt smart!
With decent bird numbers and some recent hunting success, we cannot rely on Mother Nature to be so kind to us (and bird numbers) every year. The effects are clearly evident that too many grassland and CRP acres are falling victim to the plow. If we wish to pass on our hunting heritage to future generations, it’s the responsibility of all of us – as hunters and conservationists – to urge congress to pass a new Farm Bill. Make your voices heard!
- Troy Dale, Farm Bill Biologist, Pheasants Forever – Madison
Most of the success I’m hearing about is coming from hunters focusing their time on the inside edge of cattail sloughs that are dry and walkable. Most of my personal success is similar with the roosters I am finding to be located closely to cattails or willow thickets. The most pleasant surprise for me this year is the higher pheasant numbers in the counties located on the northern edge of Minnesota’s pheasant range from Fergus Falls through Wadena to Staples and Motley over to Milaca all the way to Mora. It’s a good year for a guy trying to combo on roosters and ruffed grouse.
- Bob St.Pierre, Vice President of Marketing, Pheasants Forever – Saint Paul
Have you been pheasant hunting in Minnesota this year? If so, post your own report in the comments section below.
Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
“Find it! Dead bird, find it!” “Sprig” and I came out of a cattail draw after flushing out a few ringnecks, one of which my buddy winged down. She was now tracking her first cripple.
A minute or so went by, but with the warm, dry conditions on this Minnesota pheasant hunting opening weekend, I wondered if the scent trail would vanish as they had all weekend. But Sprig’s tail kept wagging while her other end kept sniffing. She followed the trail off the edge of the cattails, up into the surrounding grass stand and zigzagged up and over a hill. A few seconds after she disappeared, I saw the flutter of the rooster on the ridge…and then Sprig came into view. The bird made it about another 10 yards before she smacked into him headstrong; hunting without pulling the trigger has never been so much fun.
I embarked on the “My First Bird Dog” series with the goal of choosing a dog breed, breeder, a litter, a pup, taking the little he or she home, naming it, training it and heading out pheasant hunting. Twenty one blog posts, 229 online comments and a year and a half later, my baby bird dog grew up right in front of my eyes during two days of pheasant hunting.
My only regret is that I didn’t get a dog much sooner. Most everyone I know either works too much, worries too much or whines too much – including me, at times – and having a devoted dog, I’ve found, is perhaps one of life’s best defense mechanisms against all that. Sprig goes with me practically everywhere I go, including work, sleeps in my bed and, including my significant other, Kailyn, has become the joy of our lives. We’ve become “those crazy dog people” and subsequently are wondering When’s the right time to add bird dog number two?
My desire to upland hunt, wingshoot and conserve wildlife habitat through Pheasants Forever’s conservation mission has only grown since Sprig entered my life. And Kailyn, smitten with her puppy and not wanting to spend her entire autumn as a “hunting widow,” without any prodding from me, completed her firearm safety course and joined hunting’s ranks. She’s become a Pheasants Forever member and is recognizing how conserving wild places is important for our wildlife, our environment, our quality of life and our dog’s quality of life.
As the “My First Bird Dog” series draws to a close, I’d like to thank Pheasants Forever’s community of members and supporters for participating. You’ve helped create an online catalog that future hunters and conservationists will find valuable. As for Sprig and me, this isn’t the last you’ll hear from us, but we’ve got to get to work and flush some more roosters. See you in the field!
“My First Bird Dog” posts:
- Introducing “My First Bird Dog”
- What I’m Looking For
- Gun Dog Experts’ #1 Piece of Advice
- Just Show Me the DOGFAX
- Why Attend a Hunt Test or Field Trial?
- What Was Your First Bird Dog?
- Stuck Between Two Litters
- Rationalizing the Sticker Shock
- Best Bird Dogs for an Apartment
- When everyone’s a Dog Expert
- Meet My First Bird Dog!
- Puppies: What the Training Manuals Don’t Say
- Make Retrieving an Addiction (VIDEO)
- Searching for the Best Bird Dog Registered Names
- Bird Dogs Make the Work Day Better
- What’s Your Dog Training Golden Rule?
- Dog Training – How Hot is Too Hot?
- My First Bird Dog: Time for Help from a Pro
- Lap Dogs for Longtails? Small Dogs Will Work for Big, Bad Roosters
- Meet My First Hunting Dog
Monday, October 15th, 2012
Here’s my pheasant hunting opening day series of events. I arrive at a Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) at 5:30 a.m. I duck hunted this area a few weeks back, had seen and heard quite a few pheasants there, and since it has water in this dry year, knew it would be holding birds.
I threw my blaze orange articles on the dash to signify that I was a pheasant hunter then headed out to the slough at 7 to hunt ducks for an hour. At 8, I made my way back to the truck to change attire and prep for the 9 a.m. pheasant opening bell. Connected to the east side of the WPA is a smaller Wildlife Management Area (WMA), and I fully assumed another group of hunters would be utilizing the opposite side of this publicly-accessible complex.
As my truck came into view, I was shocked to find a truck parked literally just the next telephone pole down from my vehicle. One more pole down was another truck, and though you can’t see it in the picture, there are two vehicles parked by the grove of trees, which represents the approximate centerline of the entire tract. That’s four vehicles within a quarter mile of mine.
To be honest, I was pretty fumed. I come from the school of hunting where if someone’s “claimed” a spot, then you’d better have a Plan B, C and/or D prepared. There’s also the more important issue of maintaining a safe hunting environment, which is harder to do with an increased hunter/dog density.
Had I been with my seasoned pheasant hunting partners, I might have talked with these other hunters and tried to divvy up the field to ensure safe shooting for all. But with two rookie hunters – a pup and my significant other, Kailyn – accompanying me that morning, I decided to go to my own Plan B and get away from this crowd.
It’s important for all hunters to uphold the highest standards of ethics, particularly amongst ourselves. The nature of public land is that it’s open to all, but that doesn’t necessarily mean all at once – I believe these fellow hunters violated one of the unwritten Pheasant Hunter’s Codes. Am I wrong?
Full disclosure, I didn’t let this get me down for too long and had a fantastic opening day. This also illustrates the importance of continuing to permanently protect wildlife habitat while creating hunting opportunities through the addition of new publicly accessible areas. In Minnesota, for instance, since 2009, Pheasants Forever has acquired more than 3,600 acres of land in the state’s pheasant range and turned them over to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for inclusion in the state’s WMA program. Pheasants Forever has also acquired more than 3,900 acres in that timeframe and donated them to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as WPAs. This significant work has been aided by Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. Pheasants Forever is also actively adding to the public land base in many other states.
Monday, October 15th, 2012
To say anticipation was high for this past weekend’s Minnesota pheasant hunting opener is like saying an old rooster pheasant will run. With the state’s ringneck population having rebounded 68 percent, and the second annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunt centering out of Marshall – an event coordinated in large part by the local Lyon County Pheasants Forever chapter – the southern quarter of the state took on a much more festive atmosphere than last year.
Pheasants Forever has an extensive network of biologists and national employees in Minnesota, to go along with its 75 resident PF chapters and 25,000 members. Here’s a compilation of their reports:
Dry (tough for dogs). Crops are largely out and fall field work nearly complete. Generally better than last year. Four roosters in the bag in the first two hours in Redwood County our group. - Matt Holland, Senior Field Coordinator, Pheasants Forever
I hunted near Marshall and the public lands are in terrific shape out there. Most of the crops are out and the field work is also mostly done. Hunters in the area moved birds and were able to put some in the bag. It is extremely dry with tough scenting conditions. - Chad Bloom, Southern Minnesota Regional Representative, Pheasants Forever
I would say that hunting in southwest Minnesota was excellent. Most groups I talked to either shot their limit or had enough opportunities to do so. Of course the hunting report could be misleading as far as actual population goes as many of the birds were concentrated in the remaining cover of CRP and other habitat areas with most of the crops being already harvested. This left many roosters more vulnerable than previous opening weekends. The dry habitat conditions allowed many wetlands that are normally full of water to be readily hunted. - Jordan Croatt, Farm Bill Biologist, Pheasants Forever
Most of my opening weekend’s hunting was focused on public Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) in Minnesota’s Stearns & Pope Counties. It’s obvious we are in dire need of some rain as all the cattail sloughs were really dry and walkable. In general though, the grass was in relatively good condition despite the drought. There seems to have been enough localized and early season moisture to grow some pretty decent cover. Also, most of the corn & beans have been harvested. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a ton of birds. This region was one of Minnesota’s few bright spots during the 2011 season as it boasts some excellent thermal cover, which was important for the birds during the severe winter of 2010/2011. However, as the Minnesota roadside counts indicated this August, the numbers are noticeably down in this region from a year ago. Our group of seven hunters and nine dogs bagged 6 roosters on opening day, which was down from 13 roosters on the 2011 opener. The birds we did find were either along the edges of picked corn fields or along the edges of cattails. - Bob St.Pierre, Vice President of Marketing, Pheasants Forever
I hunted with my 6-year-old daughter and a friend on a Wildlife Management Area in Stearns County. We shot three roosters in about an hour of hunting. My daughter was too tired to continue after that, but it was great to have her out. I would say we saw numbers similar to last year on the WMA we hunted. Most of the crops are out completely and appears habitat is decreasing fairly significantly in this area. Heard mixed reports from hunters ranging from really good to worse than last year. - Eran Sandquist, Regional Wildlife Biologist, Pheasants Forever
The question of the day in west central Minnesota wasn’t whether or not there were birds – it was “Can we get to them?” My party of 5 hunters and three dogs hunted public property in west central Minnesota and flushed roughly 12 hens and dropped 3 roosters on Saturday. A majority of the birds we found were in extremely thick cover due to the fact all of the crops are out and the birds had to find other secure areas to safely spend their afternoon. - Andrew Vavra, Marketing Specialist, Pheasants Forever
After a successfully creeping up our limit Saturday in west central Minnesota, “Annie” (new pup) had her first experience with the infamous cattail sloughs in Minnesota’s Kandiyohi County, hunting WPA’s on Sunday. Poor (dry) scenting conditions and the thick cover proved too much for the inexperienced dog. Two of the four birds within gun range Saturday were very young and were hanging on the soft edges of crop/grassland or cattail/grasslands. Hunting the same property for opening bell, bird numbers seemed to be up. These numbers may be artificially propped up given crops were all out concentrating birds. - Rehan Nana, Public Relations Specialist, Pheasants Forever
Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
A group of my friends were recently debating the weekend’s hunting itinerary. Although Saturday is the pheasant opener in Minnesota, North Dakota & South Dakota (resident only on public land), these lost souls were contemplating the merits of spending the morning in a duck slough followed by a walk through the grouse woods. One guy even mentioned the possibility of attending a college football match instead. My jaw dropped as these avid bird hunters seriously contemplated skipping what is likely to be an awesome opening weekend of pheasant hunting.
I took a deep breath and began the process of convincing them to lace up their boots and hit the pheasant fields for the opener. Here are the five reasons for my enthusiasm around this year’s pheasant opener.
1) Mild Winter Weather. Pheasant country was blessed with less-than-average snowfall which resulted in excellent carryover of adult birds into spring. These favorable conditions were particularly beneficial to hens entering the reproductive cycle in healthy, strong shape. The equation is simple; the healthier the hen population, the higher the rate of nesting success.
2) An Early Spring. The spring of 2012 featured good nesting conditions for pheasants with warm weather and enough moisture to green things up to produce nesting habitat and insect production (chick’s primary food). Cold snaps and heavy rains are the concerns, which were relatively minimal during the spring of 2012. While the summer’s severe drought certainly hurt what could have been a big boost in pheasant numbers, most states have forecasted modest jumps in pheasant populations and these inclines are largely due to gains in spring reproduction.
3) Crops. Traditionally, pheasants on the opener find safe haven from hunters in standing rows of corn and soybeans. This year, due in large part to the drought across most of America’s heartland, more than half the corn and bean crops were already harvested by the beginning of October. With the crops out, the birds will be more concentrated in the grass.
4) Gathering Storm of Habitat Loss. It’s no secret that quality habitat is the primary ingredient to producing pheasants. Unfortunately, there have been a string of worst case scenarios in the last few months for our nation’s wildlife habitat. First of all, Washington, D.C.’s politicians failed to produce a new Farm Bill, which has led to America’s most successful conservation programs being left in limbo. Secondly, more than 6.5 million acres expired from CRP enrollment on September 30th. The demands on our lands to produce food, fiber, feed stock and energy have never been higher. The loser in this struggle continues to be habitat, and ultimately wildlife. The road ahead includes a crusade for habitat that Pheasants Forever will wage from Washington, D.C. to Pierre, South Dakota; however, our road is likely to be long and our battles arduous. So, all that bad news leads me to one point: The pheasant opener is a time for celebration and carrying on our traditions before our habitat crusade ahead.
5) Pheasant Fun. Bird dogs bounding through waste high grass waving in an autumn breeze. A rooster explodes toward a robin’s egg blue sky with a cackle of color and commotion. Great grandpa’s over/under slides into your shoulder as you touch the trigger with a BANG! There is laughter and blaze orange at the end of a tailgate, followed by a pheasant feast next to a roaring fire.
The pheasant opener is truly a celebration of family, friends, food and tradition. You wouldn’t ever consider skipping Christmas morning and you shouldn’t consider skipping the pheasant opener.
Which state’s pheasant opener will you be enjoying this season?
Friday, August 31st, 2012
1. Buy a License and Use It. While pheasant numbers may not be where they were a half decade ago, there are still birds to be had. Many fair-weather pheasant hunters have chosen not to pursue ringnecks in these leaner years– combined hunter numbers in the top pheasant producing states – South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa and Montana – have dropped by 20 percent since 2006. Make their loss your gain.
2. Scouting Is Critical This Year. The drought of 2012 has made its presence felt across most of pheasant country. To help agricultural producers feeling the effects, emergency haying and grazing was allowed on conservation lands and even some public land. Consequently, land you’ve hunted in the past could have undergone a transformation this year and may not hold birds. If there is a positive for bird hunters, this emergency action may condense bird numbers in some places, creating fast and furious action. Bottom line, make a few phone calls or put an extra day on the front end of a trip and get a lay of the land.
3. Hunt September. An appearance at the local trap range before pheasant hunting season should be a given, but why wait until October to chase wild birds? From doves to prairie grouse, most states have September seasons to prime your shoulder, shooting eye and pup for roosters.
4. Hunt the Late Season. The hunting pressure drops off so significantly by December in states like South Dakota that tourism officials are practically begging upland hunters to come out that time of year. A few states, including South Dakota and Kansas, even allow you to purchase licenses that time of year that will carry over into the next hunting season. It will be cold, birds will be cagy, and you and your dog will work harder than you can imagine, but it will be worth it.
5. Dog Checkup. Most vets will tell you the number one problem they see with dogs coming into their office this time of year is out-of-shape dogs. But they can’t tell you anything – good or bad – if you don’t schedule a visit and get a full checkup for your hunting buddy. Your dog(s) do most of the work, so give them some professional attention; they’ll pay it back this autumn.
6. Rotate Dogs. Chances are if you’re traveling to hunt pheasants, multiple people and multiple dogs will be involved. Rather than lining up every hunter and dog army style, consider breaking into smaller groups of two or three with one dog. After an hour or two, rotate that dog out and bring in a fresh replacement. You’ll enjoy focusing on dog work, and enjoy watching – and shooting over – fresh dogs throughout a trip.
7. Try a Silent Hunt. Every preseason pheasant hunting article mentions “going quiet “– not slamming car doors, loading guns quietly – but what about going completely silent? This tactic is best-suited for veteran pheasant hunters with veteran dogs that know the game (and are trained to hand signals), so if you fall into this category, challenge your hunting partners to walk an entire field as if you had duct tape over your mouth. You might be surprised by what you see…and hear.
8. Keep Knee Boots or Hip Waders in Your Vehicle. There’s a good chance you won’t need them, making this a list of only nine useful tips. Of course, on the one day only a crick or shallow slough stands between you and pheasant hunting glory, where do you want to be?
9. Use Pheasants Forever as a Resource. Pheasants Forever’s 2012 Pheasant Hunting Forecast will be released in early September (sign up here to receive it)…Attending a Pheasants Forever banquet helps support upland conservation and is a great way to connect with fellow pheasant hunters (find an autumn Pheasants Forever banquet here)…If you have a youngster interested in hunting, consider a Pheasants Forever Mentor Youth Hunt (Find a Pheasants Forever chapter here).
10. Become a Pheasants Forever Member. Grassland conversion has accelerated rapidly across large swaths of the pheasant range. “What’s hard to watch is to see native prairie being plowed up. It’s happening all across the Dakotas and what little we have left in western Minnesota. I’ve never seen the pressure on the landscape that’s happening right now,” says Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Government Affairs. Join Pheasants Forever’s wildlife habitat conservation mission, or if you’re already a member, upgrade your support, and ensure that upland habitat filled with pheasants is a sight that greets hunters for years to come: www.pheasantsforever.org/join
This article appears in “On the Wing,” Pheasants Forever’s monthly eNewsletter. Read more here.
Monday, June 25th, 2012
Last year at this time, following a horrible winter, miserable spring and too many acres of grass-turned-grain, those in my pheasant hunting circle were wondering “Where are the pheasant broods?” There just weren’t many youngins; the result in the western part of Minnesota (where I do most of my pheasant hunting and outdoor recreating) was an 80-plus percent decline in pheasant numbers.
Personally, I did not spot a pheasant brood last year in Minnesota. This past Saturday though, I came upon two on a short scouting drive and one on a walk later in the day. Corroborating reports from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife officials, all broods were “fliers,” meaning they were already 4 to 6-weeks-old. The DNR’s report added that workers spraying weeds on state wildlife areas reported seeing good numbers of pheasant broods.
Minnesota’s Lyon County Pheasants Forever chapter, from southwestern Minnesota, also posted this report on its Facebook page late last week:
Well folks, we’ve got our first road report of the year in from Dave Hengel, an area Schwan’s Home Service driver. Covering hundreds of miles each week on backcountry roads and gravel, he’s got an eye for what’s happening with pheasants, here’s his report:
“It’s looking pretty good, I’ve seen a few little ones running across the road. I stopped over at the Lyon County fertilizer plant and the sprayers told me they are seeing little ones a lot. So, yeah, it’s looking pretty good.”
It’s still a ways until Minnesota conducts its annual August roadside survey, the state’s official pheasant count, and further still until the pheasant hunting opener – things can change. Most importantly, the state will suffer a net loss of about 180,000 Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres this year – a massive chunk of wildlife-producing habitat. So life isn’t all rosy for pheasants and pheasant hunters…
…But an upland world devoid of optimism, even tepid optimism, wouldn’t be one that keeps hunters hunting and conservationists conserving. So a few pheasant broods are showing up? It’s a big deal to us.
Post your own field report – any state – in the comments section below.