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The 25 Best Pheasant Hunting Towns in America

I always enjoy reading Outdoor Life’s annual list of America’s top hunting & fishing towns.  Following is my list of America’s top pheasant towns factoring in area bird counts, annual harvest, acres of accessible public hunting land, local Pheasants Forever chapter activities and available lodging for the traveling bird hunter.  It’s by no means scientific, but a fun exercise in day dreaming about next fall. Hopefully you’re lucky enough to live in one of these pheasant country towns, and if not, have the chance to visit often.

These dots on the map are great starting points for autumn pheasant hunting adventures, but this is a conversation starter. If you live in or know of a pheasant hunting town that has yet to be represented, please share it with us in the comments section below!

1. Chamberlain, S.D.  For jaw-dropping pheasant numbers, you won’t beat this Missouri River town in south central South Dakota. Part of the famed “Golden Triangle” region (the storied pheasant hunting area from Gregory, Winner to Chamberlain), the pheasant brood counts around Chamberlain have averaged 15.7 birds per mile during the last decade, more than double the statewide average.

2. Bismarck, N.D. Maybe calling Bismarck a “town” is a stretch, but it may be the only population center of 60,000 or more with world-class pheasant hunting just minutes outside of town.

3. McCook, Neb.  This southwest Nebraska town boasts a fair amount of lodging. Drive out of town in any direction, and you’ll find plenty of CRP-MAP (Conservation Reserve Program – Managed Access Program) areas. Through the program, the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, in partnership with PF, pays private landowners to improve their CRP acres for wildlife and open them up for public hunting. Don’t be surprised to bump a covey of quail either. Note: CRP-MAP lands are being restructured and transitioned into Nebraska’s Open Fields and Waters Program.

4. Oakley, Kans.  Conveniently located on Interstate 70, which bisects the Sunflower State, getting to Oakley is only the beginning: more than 350,000 acres of publicly accessibly hunting lands, and pheasants, quail and prairie chickens in northwest Kansas awaits.

5. Lewistown, Mont. This agriculture community is located in the geographic center of Montana, where pheasants can be found with buttes and mountain ranges as beautiful backdrops. Travel northwest to hunt the Pheasants Forever Coffee Creek BLOCK Management Area, one of the largest habitat projects in Pheasants Forever’s history.

Get out of town! Some of America's top pheasant hunting towns provide great hunting literally just outside the city limits. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

6. Aberdeen, S.D.  Even in pheasant-filled South Dakota, the Aberdeen area in the northeast part of the state stands out as one of the most appealing destinations for public land and outfit-based pheasant hunters. The surrounding area has more than 200,000 acres of public hunting land available. Hunters in Aberdeen’s Brown County averaged 8.5 birds each during the course of the last hunting season.

7. Mott, N.D. Mott bills itself as a pheasant hunting destination, and with good reason. Contrary to rumor, there’s enough Private Land Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS) areas in the area to make a shoe-string budget hunt an option.

8. Sterling, Colo. Eastern Colorado has its own version of a “Golden Triangle” – the state’s best pheasant range from Sterling to Holyoke to Burlington. With proximity to the prime hunting grounds of southwest Nebraska and western Kansas, the traveling bird hunter that’s willing can plan a triple threat trip.

9. Okoboji, Iowa.  This tourist destination is a great place to base a freelance pheasant hunt. The 4-county block of Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, and Palo Alto Counties offer more than 40,000 acres of pheasant habitat open to public hunting.

10. Marshall, Minn. Marshall is the ideal jumping off point to hunt four rectangular shaped counties in southwest Minnesota – Lyon, Lincoln, Murray and Pipestone Counties – which offer up some of the best rooster action Minny has to offer. Minnesota’s vast Wildlife Management Area system provides excellent public hunting opportunities in each county.

11. Kimball, Neb. The southern portion of Nebraska’s Panhandle region boasts an abundance of CRP-MAP lands, highlighted by more than 21,000 acres enrolled in Kimball County.

12. Hart, Tex. Believe it or not, the 37-county Texas Panhandle offers some of the best pheasant hunting around. In many of the area’s towns, private landowners offer up blocks of acreage for hunting at relatively nominal fees, some good just for opening weekend, some all season long.

13. Medicine Lake, Mont. Set in the rolling plains of northeastern Montana, between the Missouri River and the Canadian border, you’ll find the Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The 31,700-acre area consists of two separate tracts, and hunting is allowed on designated areas and all Waterfowl Production Areas.

14. Lemmon, S.D.  If solitude is the name of your pheasant hunting game, you’ll find it in this modest northwest South Dakota locale, along with opportunities for sharptails and Hungarian partridge. A reasonable drive to the south and west puts you in the Grand River National Grassland, and if you’re up for a two-state trip, a mile to the north you’re in the other Dakota. To give you an idea of its remoteness, there were more resident hunters in Perkins County last year than nonresident hunters.

15. Montevideo, Minn.  Getting here puts you a stone’s throw away from the 31,000-acre Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area, which is managed intensely for wildlife and contains more than 2,000 acres of food plots.

16. Russell, Kans.  You’ll find pheasants and quail in the heart of the Smoky Hills around the town that Outdoor Life named one of the 35 Best Hunting and Fishing Towns in the U.S.

17. Mobridge, S.D.  Another Missouri River town, the Mobridge area boasts historically strong pheasant numbers, while drawing roughly half as many nonresident hunters as its nearby counties to the east.

18. Hays, Kans. Lodging in northwest Kansas is at a premium. Hays is the largest town in the northwest region of the state and serves as a great overnight location with more than 1,000 motel rooms.

19. Mitchell, S.D.  The annual Pheasant Country Pheasants Forever chapter banquet on the eve of South Dakota’s general pheasant hunting season opener is held at the famous Corn Palace.

20. Worthington, Minn. Nobles County has more than 30 Wildlife Management Areas, including the Pheasant Run 1 Wildlife Management Area, a 32-acre grassland the was Pheasants Forever’s first land purchase wildlife project.

21. Dodge City, Kans. This famous frontier town serves as the gateway to more than 180,000 acres of publicly accessible land in southwest Kansas.

22. Bend, Oregon. This sportsmen’s paradise rests in the unique landscape of the Columbia Basin, where wild roosters are the progeny of the first-introduced pheasants in the U.S.

23. Le Mars, Iowa. Plymouth County and the northwest corner of Iowa currently provide the best pheasant hunting opportunities in the Hawkeye State.

24. Winner, S.D. Located in the farm and ranch country of south central South Dakota, the Winner area has long been known for its incredible pheasant hunting.

25. Bird City, Kans. The origin of the town’s name actually has nothing to do with pheasant hunting, but it lies in northwest Kansas pheasant country, so it’s worth it.

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

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87 Responses to “The 25 Best Pheasant Hunting Towns in America”

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  1. chris913 says:

    i have hunted Lucas Ks. which is in Russell County and near the town of Russell for the past 15 years and the past 2 years havent been all that great. last year we saw more hens than ever. I dont know if it was just the area we were in or what. I am hoping that is a good sign. This year the temp has been alot more mild and we have had a more steady rain fall but not too much. Its a 4 hour drive out there for me because I live in Kansas City. I hope that making that drive every weekend is going to produce alot more birds this year. Especially since i have an 8 week old brittany that I am in the process of training. hope he is ready by the season opener.

  2. Sam says:

    Is spencer Iowa any good?

  3. @Sam – Spencer puts you in the great 4-county area (Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, and Palo Alto Counties) that offers more than 40,000 acres of pheasant habitat open to public hunting. Happy hunting! – Anthony Hauck, PF Online Editor

  4. Stefan Schroeder says:

    How about the Pheasant Capital of the World? Redfield SD.

  5. [...] 3. McCook, Neb.  This southwest Nebraska town boasts a fair amount of lodging. Drive out of town in any direction, and you’ll find plenty of CRP-MAP (Conservation Reserve Program – Managed Access Program) areas. Through the program, the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, in partnership with PF, pays private landowners to improve their CRP acres for wildlife and open them up for public hunting. Don’t be surprised to bump a covey of quail either. Note: CRP-MAP lands are being restructured and transitioned into Nebraska’s Open Fields and Waters Program. <More> [...]

  6. Roger Campbell says:

    Wager/ Smith’s hunting club in partnership with Bob’s Resort of Gettysburg South Dakota is the best wild pheasant hunting in the US. Reasonably priced and a great expirience. The rest is like a chicken hunt. I have hunted there for 40 years and come back every year even though I am from Aberdeen.

  7. Jack Dennis says:

    I would like to know who put this 25 towns together? I guess they haven’t hunted in South Dakota that much or all 25 towns would be there

  8. Stan c says:

    What do you all think about Great Falls Mt for birds?

  9. @Stan – Great Falls is in what the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Dept. classifies as Region 4 (http://fwp.mt.gov/regions/r4/). Region 4 leads the state in annual harvest for ring-necked pheasant at 35 percent of the total. Region 4 also harvests 38 percent of the state’s Hungarian partridge. There’s enough public land to make a trip worth the while, most of which contain views that you won’t find anywhere else. – Anthony Hauck, PF Online Editor

  10. Jack Dennis says:

    I have hunted South Dakota the last 25 years and found that the smaller towns like Miller, Redfield, Wessington to name a few. You have a lot less hunters then the larger towns. Plus friendlier people and so less pressure on the pheasants.

  11. Matt Hopkins says:

    Headed to south Dakota the end of Oct any suggestions on better pubic grounds Will be doing primitive camping as well

  12. 1. Check out Pheasants Forever’s 2012 Pheasant Hunting Forecast and the South Dakota outlook: http://www.pheasantsforever.org/page/1/2012forecast.jsp
    2. Then scour the 2012 Public Hunting Atlas for South Dakota for available public lands. One notable favorite that’s a favorite of public land pheasant hunters is Aberdeen, as the surrounding area has more than 200,000 acres of publically accessible hunting land.
    3. CREP Walk-in lands along the James River Valley should be productive. These lands were enrolled in this program to provide public access, but there is also a habitat component to the program to ensure they remain viable for wildlife: http://www.pheasantblog.org/tag/south-dakota-crep/

    Happy hunting!

    -Anthony Hauck, Online Editor, Pheasants Forever

  13. Jake Gumbatseal says:

    I’ve been hunting in Nebraska for 15 years. I find it much better than SD because you can still limit out every day but have much less pressure. You may need to spend more time in the field but heck, isn’t that why I go to begin with?

  14. Scott richards says:

    Bend, Oregon… What nonsense is this? How fit it make the list?

  15. Live in Ohio where bird hunting is not very good. Looking for a place to go next yr with my 1 yr old GSP, maybe ND or SD someplace private. Also wondering how you go about contacting those land owners.

    Thanks for any information you pass along.

  16. Chris in Eagle Butte says:

    I agree with Jack Dennis. I used to drive the Dakotas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wyoming, and Montana installing satellite internet and by far the best hunting is in northern South Dakota/southern North Dakota. Great spots are along U.S. 12,along U.S. 83 and west river along 63/65/73 where you can see hundreds and hundreds at a time, especially where there’s a shelter belt.

  17. nicholas comes says:

    man south is the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Dake Warren says:

    Holyoke Colorado, you mentioned Sterling but Holyoke is really the hub. Phillips county plants more habitat than just about any other county in the country.The only issue is when we get a drought or a major blizzard. Otherwise, the birds love Phillips county.

  19. It’s why I leave michigan to hunt I notice it’s not listed LOL figures. you know people say I complain to much but i do what I can by helping when i can and where I can. but i think other states are more concerned about upland game then mich. Michigan is more concerned about the deer herd because that’s what brings the dollars to our state. which is o.k. but it’s sad cause we lose others from the joys of upland game hunting.

  20. Shelby says:

    I really like reading an article that will make people
    think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment!

  21. Jack Kuypers says:

    In November of 2012 14 Canadians drove down to Jim River Ranch in Redfield SD. We had the best hunting I have ever had. The lodge, food and the staff were great – we hunted mornings and the staff spoiled us all afternoon – then great dinners – guides and dogs were the best. New good friendships were made.

  22. [...] year’s list of the 25 Best Pheasant Hunting Towns in America selected locales predominately based in the Midwest where the ringneck is king. Because Pheasants [...]

  23. jeff says:

    I live inbeatrice ne and have hunted for years. The last 2 years pheasant numbers been down but the quial have came around good. I think this year the quail numbers will be top notch. Been seeing more pheasants too.

  24. daniel collier says:

    planning a trip SD this december what is a few good towns to hunt that has some public land and land owners that might let me hunt. never been there always went to iowa befor

  25. Jack Dennis says:

    @ Daniel C I like Miller, SD in Dec the pheasants will be in bigger groups and not as many hunters. Plenty of public land to hunt. Lots of places to stay only 2 motels but a lot of other places to stay go to themillerpress.com and go to the classifies. Plenty of places to eat.

  26. daniel collier says:

    ok thanks jack are the landowners pretty good about letting hunters on their land to huntand is the public land good hunting too

  27. Jack Dennis says:

    Some land owners will others won’t. The walk in areas and public land is good. You can get a map from the GFP’S or go on line.

  28. Craig GIbbs says:

    Chris913. I lived in Lucas, KS for about 3 years back in 85-87 and did my very first pheasant hunting there. Got kinda spoiled. I have not been back since we moved away, but I would sure like to. I had a Brittney Spaniel named Bullet (I was 5 when I named him) and he was the easiest dog to train I have ever had. Natural point. If you get a change to go back, have fun and good luck.

  29. Scott says:

    Bend, Oregon?? Absurd. It somehow got on this list.

  30. Scott – in the print edition of this article, we did replace Bend, Oregon with Pendleton, Oregon. Thanks for reading. – Anthony Hauck, Online Editor, Pheasants Forever

  31. bob says:

    Don’t waste your time in any Iowa location! Up until the late 80′s we
    had 20-30 birds per, now 5-6 per. What a joke! We have alot of grass!(no food) Birds still need to eat!! Been hunting almost 40 yrs, the DNR is a joke and all the other organizations just keep taking membership money with hollow promises!

  32. Tom says:

    Polluck is the best outback hunt in the Dakotas. It is a fun town Fin and Feather, Grumpys and farmer down plus Frank. What else great pheasant hunt.

  33. Shane S. says:

    Stratford, Tx is a great place, as well. perfect in december, especially for pheasant and quail. it’s close by Dumas, it’s a small town but hunters go from time to time.

  34. carl winn says:

    we have experienced pheasant hunting in different parts of Kansas but the last three years have not been that great we only hunt public walk in areas since traveling and trying to stay within a budget. We are seriously thinking about South Dakota this year and would like to now the best area for non resident public hunting. ANY HELP WOULD BE APPRECIATED

  35. Eric Carlson says:

    Fair warning, the Texas panhandle is virtually void of pheasants. We have hunted Hart for 35 years and used to see hundreds of pheasants. The last three years we hunted over 20 days with dogs and harvested 3 roosters. My son is coming with for the first time and I am planning on hunting either Kansas or Colorado this year on public lands. Any advice on projected good towns for 2014?

  36. Timothy Shaw says:

    Pendleton,Oregon? 100% private land!!!!
    Oregon has and is a joke for pheasant hunting, Washington is much better.
    Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has not had a pheasant program since the late 1970′s. All they have now is pen raised pheasant release that cannot fly. Now there’s hardly any quails! ODFW doesn’t take upland bird propagation seriously anymore. I wish Pheasant Forever would step up to the plate as well as keeping “OREGON” Pheasant Forever members money, fee’s and donations in Oregon.

  37. Kurt Gentis says:

    Have hunted Aberdeen South Dakota the last several years with great luck but sick of walking cat tails. Looking for shorter cover where you can see the dogs work.

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