Posts Tagged ‘waterfowl production area’

Pheasant Hunting at Waterfowl Production Areas

Friday, January 11th, 2013


North Dakota is home to nearly 40 percent of the nation’s Waterfowl Production Areas, many of which offer good pheasant hunting opportunities. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

For my last pheasant hunt of the year, I loaded up the dog and headed to northwest Iowa. Lured by thousands of acres of publicly accessible land, the hunting was to be at areas where I’d previously never set foot. Heck, I’d never even bagged an Iowa ringneck. Despite this lack of on-the-ground scouting and no more local insight than what I saw on the online public lands map, I was optimistic: There were Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs).

I do about two-thirds of my pheasant hunting on public lands and of that, half is accounted walking the grasses and cattail sloughs of Waterfowl Production Areas. Because they’re funded with Duck Stamps, its natural these areas are named as they are, but if you’re a pheasant hunter, don’t let it throw you off the pheasant trail. Some WPAs, with excellent grass stands, double as premiere pheasant producing areas. And many, with wetlands and thick cattail stands, become places of refuge for pheasants in the face of winter.

As snow, cold temperatures and biting winds set in, it’s no big secret that hunting cattails becomes the name of the game. Some hunters detest this while others relish it (I fall in the latter category). Once you find cattails, the X factor becomes the proximity of a food source. The first two small wetlands I pushed on my Iowa trip were unsuccessful, and in evaluating my hunt immediately afterwards, the surrounding food sources seemed rather limited.

At the next WPA, I found more food resources but also many more hunter tracks leaving the entrance lot, which almost deterred me from hunting there, but as I drove around the section, I noticed a small wetland nestled amongst the rolling hills. A quick glance through the binoculars showed no sign of hunters working this far into the property. That’s where I headed, and that’s where three pheasants were holed up, including one rooster that ended up in my game bag.

There are more than 26,000 WPAs in the U.S. – most of them located in the Dakotas, Montana, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin – and they’re all open to public hunting. Just remember to use nontoxic shot, and do your part by buying a Duck Stamp…or two.

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

Pheasant Hunting Etiquette: Who’s in the Right?

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.

Other hunters showed up too close for comfort at the author’s initial public, opening morning pheasant hunting location. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

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.

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

Rooster Road Trip – North Dakota Preview

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Tram & I with a North Dakota rooster & sharp-tailed grouse. PHOTO by TIM EISELE.

Pheasants Forever’s first ever Rooster Road Trip kicks off one week from today.  Our adventure will start in southeast North Dakota where we’ll be chasing pheasants around lands primarily enrolled in PLOTS (Private Land Open To Sportsmen) and federally owned Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs). 

Andrew, Anthony & I will be joined on Monday by Jesse Beckers and his Labrador, Lu.  Jesse is PF’s regional wildlife biologist for North Dakota and a fellow blogger. 

North Dakota’s best pheasant hunting is typically identified as the land south of interstate 94.  Although I’ve hunted NoDak on three prior occasions, none of those trips have been below I-94.  My previous trips have been to central North Dakota where I’ve found good pheasant numbers, fantastic sharp-tailed grouse numbers and some Huns to boot.

NoDak Nuggets

  • Non-resident small game licenses cost $85.00 and have to be split into two-7 day periods.
  • North Dakota’s pheasant harvest varies more than most states, ranging from 400,000 to 1 million roosters.  The quantity and quality of habitat plays the biggest role in those swings, but severe winter weather can knock the state’s bird numbers down in a hurry.  Over the last decade, it’s safe to say North Dakota comes in at number 3 in pheasant harvest behind only South Dakota and Kansas. 
  • The daily bag limit is 3 roosters.
  • Hunting opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes at sunset.
  • Hunters can also bag 3 sharpies and 3 Huns daily. 
  • North Dakota has more than 2.7 million acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), making it the 4th largest CRP state behind only Texas, Montana and Kansas.
  • Of those 2.7 million CRP acres, 1.49 million of those acres’ contracts expire in the next three years.


Road Trip Recommendation

Boyt’s mid-weight base layer top: I am a guy that gets cold easily.  I started wearing long underwear tops to work in September and won’t stop till the spring thaw.  I wore this Boyt superfine merino wool top for the first time while grouse hunting in the Northwoods over the weekend.  I can say unequivocally that this is the most comfortable base layer I’ve ever worn.  No itching, not too tight, and very warm.  Two big thumbs up!

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.