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Winter Hammering Pheasant Country…Again

Record snowfalls and extreme cold have been the dominant winter theme in the Dakotas, Minnesota and eastern Montana.

Today’s broken record alert: Another rough winter is taking its toll in the Upper Midwestern reaches of pheasant country. Here are compiled reports from the hardest hit states.

North Dakota

Record to near-record snowfall has blanketed much of North Dakota each winter since 2008-09. As of the end of January, the average 2′ snow depth was nearly double what it was last year at the same time. There are reports of pheasant losses. “What this winter will mean in terms of pheasant hunting opportunities next fall is hard to tell,” said North Dakota Fish Department Wildlife Chief Randy Kreil. “For the most part, birds were able to adapt the past two winters under similar conditions. But then again, good nesting habitat in spring allowed them to rebound, (and) with the continued loss of Conservation Reserve Program acres, their ability to rebound could be impaired.”

Eastern Montana

The Hi-Line and southern regions of eastern Montana have been hammered by continued bouts of Arctic air and record-breaking snowfall. Impacts to upland game bird populations may be severe in some locations.


Pheasants in Minnesota are enduring the region’s most severe winter since the devastation of 1995-96 and 1996-97. Snow and cold started in early December, and snow depths across the southern pheasant range in Minnesota last week ranged from 24 to 30 inches. During last year’s tough winter, standing crops leftover from a wet harvest season helped birds with food and cover – not the case this year with the 2010 crops being harvested early in the fall.

South Dakota

Brutal cold and snow, particularly high winds and blowing snow, have contributed to some pheasant mortality in areas with unsuitable thermal cover. Motorists are reporting seeing many pheasants along roadsides, which has led to many vehicle-related bird deaths.

Sources: Associated Press, Billings Gazette, Great Falls Tribune, Minnesota Outdoor News

Up next, the mid-winter report for the Great Plains states – Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas. Stay tuned.

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Public Relations Specialist

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4 Responses to “Winter Hammering Pheasant Country…Again”

  1. uguide says:

    Hi Anthony, I agree conditions have been brutal and have tested the limits of good winter cover if it exists at all. However, I think the winter of 2009-2010 was worse in that much of field were covered by snow 1′ deep across the whole 5 state regions. Also, in the last week we have had a much needed thaw and parts of SD pheasant range are snow free. Right now things are looking up.


  2. Steve Ries says:

    We are starting to not like winter at all here in east central Iowa, but can not complain about the measures of snow fall we received this winter. Colder than normal for certain. We are hearing of pockets of small to large groups of pheasants that have survived and made thier way to find what habitat is left here in Iowa.
    Hunting Iowa in the future will be determined by the success of habitat vs. Ethanol. Got habitat…Got birds!
    thank you Pheasants Forever for all you do to support our interest in youth and enjoying the great outdoors.

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pheasants Forever and Ringnecks & Rednecks, Tyler Swenson. Tyler Swenson said: RT @pheasants4ever: Winter hammering pheasant country again. Your winter report is here http://bit.ly/evT6qT [...]


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