Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why Winter Shooting Requires Ammo Changes

Written by:

“Late season birds are tougher to kill because of their thicker feathers and heavier layers of fat and down.” How many times have you heard that? I’m sorry, but it’s not true. 

As fall wears on into winter, wild waterfowl and upland birds have progressively LESS access to food. This is due principally to snow cover. So fat layers and muscles of wild game birds do not get thicker or heavier as fall hunting seasons transcend into winter. 

  
As far as the birds being “more feathered-out” late in the season, that’s another fallacy. By November 1st they have all the head, neck, body and flight feathers they’re ever going to get. Now, they might have a wee bit more insulating down. But in my necropsies of thousands of waterfowl and pheasants, down has never proven to be a significant pellet penetration inhibitor regardless of thickness. Bottom line: there’s nothing anatomically or physiologically significantly different about wild game birds during late fall and winter which makes them harder to kill. 

What is changing as the season wears on is that average daily temperatures decline. All shotshell ammunition – factory or reloaded – sheds velocity quicker and patterns open more as temperature drops. The atmosphere also becomes denser. The denser the atmosphere, the more resistance confronts the projectiles. The denser the medium a projectile has to pass through, the more quickly it slows down. If the projectile is deformed (as would happen to the vast majority of lead pellets and the pellets in soft, nontoxic shot types such as bismuth and several plastic-tungsten alloy types), it will diverge from the point of aim at an angle ever greater the denser the atmosphere becomes.  

Read the rest of the ShotgunLife article to find our more and how to adjust for colder temperatures.

Friday, September 27, 2013

God Made a Dog - Video



For my dogs

Marge





















Fergie


















Tina


















Tasha

Thursday, September 19, 2013

MN 2013 Walk In Access WIA Information and Maps are available

Walk-In Access (WIA) Program

...providing public hunting opportunities on private lands thanks to volunteer landowners.
  • New for 2013: Hunters must purchase a WIA Validation to legally hunt WIA Sites this fall
    It is a nominal $3, a portion of which covers the license transaction with the remainder to be used for a hunter evaluation next year. The validation will also give DNR and policymakers a way to track the number of hunters whom hunt Walk-In Access sites. Landowners cannot give others permission to hunt without a validation. 
  • Walk-In Access sites are open during any legal hunting season from Sept. 1 to May 31. Please respect private property and verify public hunting areas by observing boundary signs.
  • Clay County WIA # 55 is within the Clay County Game Refuge and is closed to waterfowl hunting during the regular season. Open to all other hunting.
  • Walk-In Access sites (WIA) are only open to hunting where WIA boundaries are posted with WIA signs. Landowners may opt out of the program, and will be reflected in the Online Atlas and the WIA County Interactive Map. Check the "Walk-In Access Site Status Changes" for the latest information on WIA site conditions.
  • Only walk-in hunting traffic is allowed on enrolled acres. Land enrolled in the WIA program is not open to trapping, trap shooting, dog training or activities other than hunting. No vehicle traffic is allowed. Parking is along roads or in designated parking areas.
  • Hunters must follow the Code of Conduct This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it. developed for WIA lands.
  • Emergency Grazing and Haying on WIA sites

Find a WIA Interactive Map


See WIAs for Clay County See WIAs for Becker County See WIAs for Otter Tail County See WIAs for Wilkin County See WIAs for Grant County See WIAs for Douglas County See WIAs for Traverse County See WIAs for Stevens County See WIAs for Pope County See WIAs for Big Stone County See WIAs for Swift County See WIAs for Kandiyohi County See WIAs for Meeker County See WIAs for Lac Qui Parle County See WIAs for Chippewa County See WIAs for McLeod County See WIAs for Yellow Medicine County See WIAs for Renville County See WIAs for Redwood County See WIAs for Lincoln County See WIAs for Lyon County See WIAs for Brown County See WIAs for Blue Earth County See WIAs for Pipestone County See WIAs for Murray County See WIAs for Cottonwood County See WIAs for Watonwan County See WIAs for Jackson County See WIAs for Martin County Click on a county in the map to bring up detailed maps of WIAs

WIA tools

ALL WIA sites are now OPEN to Public Hunting.



WIA maps & data

All map data and map products (including Google Earth, Google Map, and GPS files) are general and do not accurately represent the actual legal or established boundary of these areas, and thus should be used for reference only. Please respect private property and verify public hunting areas by observing boundary signs.

Check the MN DNR website for updates

Monday, September 9, 2013

Minnesota’s 2013 pheasant index down 29 percent from 2012

A long winter followed by a cold, wet spring contributed to a significant decrease in Minnesota’s pheasant count, which declined 29 percent from 2012, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Minnesota’s results reflect what we’re seeing in other states,” said Rachel Curtis, DNR wildlife research biologist. “South Dakota had a 64 percent decrease in its brood survey. North Dakota’s most-recent rooster crowing count is down 11 percent from last year. And Iowa reported a 19 percent decrease in its August roadside count.”

Minnesota’s 2013 pheasant index is 64 percent below the ten-year average and 72 percent below the long-term average.

Pheasant hunters still are expected to harvest about 246,000 roosters this fall. That’s down 44,000 from last year’s estimate and is less than half the number of pheasants taken during the 2005-2008 seasons when hunting was exceptionally good.

The highest pheasant counts were in the southwest region, where observers reported 51 birds per 100 miles of survey driven. Hunters should find good harvest opportunities in west-central, east-central and south-central Minnesota.

“Pheasant populations respond to habitat abundance and changes in weather,” Curtis said. “The steady downward trend in Minnesota’s pheasant population during the past several years is primarily due to habitat loss. Weather has caused minor fluctuations.”

The most important habitat for pheasants is grassland that remains undisturbed during the nesting season. Protected grasslands account for about 6 percent of the state’s pheasant range. Farmland retirement programs such as Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, Reinvest in Minnesota and Wetlands Reserve Program make up the largest portion of protected grasslands in the state.

High land rental rates and competing uses for farmland diminish the economic attractiveness of farmland conservation programs. CRP enrollment declined by 63,700 acres in Minnesota’s pheasant range over the last year and contracts for nearly 400,000 acres of statewide CRP lands are scheduled to expire during the next 3 years. If not re-enrolled, this would reduce CRP acres in Minnesota by 30 percent.

To help offset continued habitat losses caused by reductions in conservation set-aside acreage, the DNR has accelerated acquisition of wildlife management areas in the farmland region of Minnesota. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service also acquires and protects habitat across the state. In addition, the DNR supports habitat conservation on private lands by working with a variety of partners in the Farm Bill Assistance Partnership and Working Lands Initiative.

High spring precipitation and below average temperatures hurt nesting this year. This year’s average hatch date was delayed to June 20, which is 11 days later than the 10-year average of June 9.

Although fewer broods were seen, brood size was larger than last year and comparable to the long-term average. Actual reproduction rates may be higher than the survey suggests. Hens that were successful nesting later in the season tend to be underrepresented in roadside data and it is possible that hens were still nesting or in heavier cover with young chicks during the survey period. 

The pheasant population estimate is part of the DNR’s annual August roadside wildlife survey, which began in 1955. DNR conservation officers and wildlife managers in the farmland region of Minnesota conduct the survey during the first half of August. This year’s survey consisted of 171 routes, each 25 miles long, with 152 routes located in the ring-necked pheasant range.

Observers drive each route in early morning and record the number and species of wildlife they see. The data provide an index of relative abundance and are used to monitor annual changes and long-term population trends of pheasants, gray (Hungarian) partridge, cottontail rabbits, white-tailed jackrabbits, mourning doves and other wildlife. 


The gray partridge index also decreased from last year and remained below the 10-year average. The cottontail rabbit index increased from last year but stayed below the 10-year and long-term average. The jackrabbit index was 87 percent below the long-term average. Finally, the mourning dove index was 20 percent below last year and lower than the 10-year and long-term averages.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2013 South Dakota Pheasant Outlook Down 60%

Months of persistent drought in 2012, a cold, wet spring in 2013 and a reduction in habitat have impacted pheasant brood counts, according to a report released today by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department. But officials note that South Dakota will still offer the best pheasant hunting experience in the country, with more than 1.1 million acres of public land available for pursuing birds within the state's main pheasant range.

The department's annual brood count surveys the number of pheasants per mile as a means to track pheasant numbers over time. The actual population size is estimated after the pheasant hunting season ends, with additional information gathered from hunter surveys and a winter rooster-to-hen ratio survey.
The 2013 report indicates an index of 1.52 pheasants per mile, down from 4.19 pheasants per mile last year.

"The annual brood count provides us with a year-over-year analysis tool," said Travis Runia, GFP's lead pheasant biologist. "Our numbers may be down from last year, but hunters will still be able to find birds."

GFP conducts the brood route survey each year on select stretches of roads around the state. All pheasants are counted along each route, with particular attention to the number of broods.
"Much of the northern Great Plains experienced the same weather and habitat factors that impacted our brood counts," Runia said.

Runia noted that lower brood counts in 1992 and 1997 still resulted in almost one million pheasants harvested in South Dakota each year. Since 1992, the state has added 350,000 acres of public access within the main pheasant range, expanding hunting opportunities.


The 2013 pheasant season opens Oct. 19 and runs through Jan. 5, 2014. The Youth Pheasant season will run from Oct. 5 - 9 and the Resident Only season Oct. 12 - 14.

































Read the original SD GFP article





Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2013 Quail Habitat Conditions Report

Spring and summer brought welcomed change in quail nesting conditions throughout much of the country. As the saying goes; when it rains, it pours. The rains have fallen in overabundance for some, but many states have found refuge from drought stricken habitat in the form of these rain clouds.
A significant amount of upland habitat continues to be lost countrywide, and the bleeding has not stopped.  The Conservation Reserve Program enrolled only 1.7 million acres in most recent general sign-up, bringing this critical wildlife habitat program down to a 26-year low.

However, in the face of this habitat loss, literally thousands of concerned hunter-conservationists have picked up the upland conservation banner and joined Quail Forever as new members and volunteers. This year, Quail Forever reached an all-time “covey” record of more than 11,000 members with new chapters forming from California to Florida.

Enjoy these habitat reports and as hunting season approaches, consider lending a hand with your local Quail Forever chapter.

Alabama
Mild winter a boon for bobs

Alabama has had an abnormally wet spring/summer, with only a handful of central and southeastern counties experiencing an abnormally dry season – a drastic change from the recent severe summer droughts. Across the state, there’s been anywhere from 17-40” of rainfall reported for the year (as of the end of July) with temperatures remaining relatively low all the way through the summer months.

“On our public lands that are managed for quail we have seen more birds this spring/summer than in past years and heard from several hunters who were pleased with bird numbers,” says Carrie Johnson, wildlife biologist for Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.  “Also, I have had reports from landowners who say they have been hearing birds on their property for the first time in 10-15 years.”




This past winter Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries acquired new acreages on several management areas including Lauderdale, Lowndes, Barbour, and James D. Martin Wildlife Management Areas. Additionally, the Forever Wild program bought property that ties into James D. Martin WMA and Lauderdale WMA.

Arizona
A season worth gearing up for

It can be said even mediocre quail hunting years in Arizona are better than the best years in other areas of the country. “This year will be one worth getting out and hunting quail, but not one to write the relatives about,” says Johnathan O’Dell, small game biologist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

According to O’Dell, the state received better amounts of winter rains this year, but it has been a particularly dry spring that started early. However, the summer monsoons did make a timely return. O’Dell also noted quail in southern Arizona started hatching on time, but birds in central Arizona were late.

The big three in Arizona (Gambel’s, scaled, and Mearns’ quail) all require precipitation at different times for nesting success. Gambel’s need winter precipitation, scaled spring precipitation, and Mearns’ the summer monsoonal rains.

O’Dell also noted spring call counts came in at 20% below last year’s numbers and below the 10-year average. The early, dry spring didn’t help scaled quail due to their typical nesting 2 to 3 weeks behind Gambel’s; however, on the upside, lots of habitat improvements have been made in southeastern Arizona to restore the native grasslands which are important to the scaled quail. Expect to see more Gambel’s quail than scaled quail in those areas this year for a below average season. Mearns’, hunters should be cautiously optimistic. It will take more than 2 good years in a row to bring numbers up, but the state is headed in the right directions. Expect a slightly below average season for Mearns’.

Read the full survey here: http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/small_game.shtml

Georgia
Excellent spring/summer production of food and nesting cover


Georgia received above average rainfall during late spring and early summer. This has resulted in excellent production of food and nesting cover on most quail managed landscapes. This rainfall doesn’t appear to have resulted in significant reductions in nesting success and brood production, particularly on the more well-drained sandy or loamy soils, says Reggie Thackston, program manager for Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Through the Farm Bill, Georgia has about 200,000 acres in CRP CP3A & CP 36 longleaf pine practices; 2,200 acres in CRP CP 33native field buffers; and 8,000 acres in the CP 38 SAFE Pine Savanna practice. Bobwhites and other grassland species benefit where these practices are appropriately maintained through mid-contract management, such as frequent prescribed fire or rotational winter disking.

Additionally, Georgia landowners may be eligible for practice cost share to enhance bobwhite habitat through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Working Lands for Wildlife, Environmental Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program. Within all of these programs, landowners may receive funding for practices that can be value added for quail if appropriately applied and maintained in the proper landscape context. Through the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division Private Lands Program, which includes the Bobwhite Quail Initiative, wildlife biologists are available to assist landowners with development of bobwhite management plans and details on habitat practice cost share availability.

In recent years in southwest Georgia, approximately 35,000 acres of new and intensively managed wild quail lands have been successfully established on private property through the technical guidance efforts of Tall Timbers Research Station.

Georgia WRD is in the process of finalizing the revision of the state’s Bobwhite Quail Initiative under the umbrella of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. This plan targets bobwhite restoration into strategic focal landscapes that often include a mix of both private and public lands.

Georgia’s BQI is funded primarily through the sale of a vehicle license plate along with direct donations and grants.

Idaho
Quail population strong heading into breeding season


Idaho experienced a very mild winter that was drier than average, so overwinter survival is expected to be high, reports Jeff Knetter, upland game and waterfowl staff biologist for Idaho Fish and Game.
While overwinter survival may be high, much of southern Idaho has been very dry during the spring/summer nesting season, so there are some concerns regarding brood survival. Unofficial reports have broods being observed thus far, so state biologists remain cautiously optimistic about another good year.

In terms of habitat, Idaho has been holding steady at approximately 670,000 acres enrolled in CRP/SAFE and has not seen a significant decline of acres like many other states.


Through state and local efforts, Idaho continues to promote the CP-33 buffers practice, as well as a new CRP SAFE practice in western Idaho focused on upland game birds. USDA and the Department of Wildlife are putting effort into promoting mid-contract management which will result in better game bird habitat on these acres.

Missouri
Reports of increased calling and broods observed


According to Beth Emmerich, agricultural wildlife ecologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, it appears quail came through the drought of 2012 and the lingering winter of 2012-13 in good shape.  “Initial nesting ran a bit later than normal this year due to an extremely cool, wet spring, but early indications are that we are seeing an increase over previous years,” Emmerich says.


Nesting and brood-rearing habitat should be in good shape this year after being knocked back by last year’s drought. Quail numbers on the state’s larger grasslands in western and southwest Missouri seem especially good this year.  In addition, staff members and cooperators north of the Missouri River also report an increase in calling males and brood observations.

Texas
Population increase expected compared to 2012


Although more rainfall is definitely needed across the core bobwhite range in Texas, enough rainfall events occurred over a large enough area to produce conditions favorable for reproductive efforts. Spring and summer rains occurred in almost every region offering some relief from drought and the following green-up provided bugs and limited nesting cover. “We expect populations to increase compared to last year but remain below the long-term average,” states Robert Perez, upland game bird program leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Winter conditions in north Texas did not present any challenges for quail. The region was, however, very dry up until spring and summer when many areas received enough rain to spur male bobwhite calling activity and subsequent nesting activity.
Most of the state has experienced long-term drought (2-3 years) and populations have been declining each year of drought; although, there have been some areas of the state that have fared better than others.

Texas’ quail roadside surveys are ongoing and preliminary information suggests production is up in many areas of the state.
Utah

Nesting and brood success high


“Utah is home to California and Gambel’s quail populations.  Gambel’s quail were in fair condition heading into the breeding season; however, California quail were below average ,” says Jason Robinson, upland game coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “Early indications are that nesting and brood success have been high,” Robinson says.

The winter in Utah was cold and longer than average with snow and cold temps persisting longer than expected, which likely affected California quail populations, but had limited effects on Gambel’s quail.  Early spring precipitation was good, especially in May, with June extremely hot and dry, near record dry and hot.  July precipitation was higher than average, with average temperatures.





The 2013 Quail Habitat Conditions Report was complied by Rehan Nana, Quail Forever public relations specialist, with special thanks given to participating state agencies.

For the following states and the complete Quail Forever article click here

Arkansas
California 

Colorado
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Mississippi
Nevada
New Mexico
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
South Carolina
Virginia



Saturday, August 17, 2013

PreSeason Training Options For BirdDogs - Video

Since I moved into a house with a yard that isn’t fenced it has been a challenge to effectively condition my dogs so that they are ready for the hunting season.

Besides daily walks I added in a couple of other activities to get the dogs in shape.

I bought a sled dog harness @ http://www.kondosoutdoors.com/dog-gear in Ely, MN a couple of summers ago and I use it to run the dogs while I am riding my bike.  I am able to do this in a park behind our house.  This enables me to run the dogs at a faster speed than they will usually run on there own.  I use this to work on their aerobic fitness as well as getting them to stretch out their strides.

We will do a warmup session and then mix speed work with recovery work.


This year I have added Underwater Treadmill workouts to our routine.  I like using these workouts because they can provide a good aerobic workout without the pounding that can accompany regular roadwork.  The treadmill is also useful for getting in workouts when the weather doesn’t lend itself to outdoor training.  I have been going to Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota in Oakdale.  http://aercmn.com/



I still am a firm believer in the classic roading to polish up a dog’s fitness.  In the years where I haven’t been able to consistently work the dogs on my own I have taken them to a trainer where he will road and / or free run the dogs.  An extra advantage to having the trainer do these workouts is that I can also have them layer on any specific skill training that the dogs or I might need some work on.  Tina is heading to http://northwoodsbirddogs.com/ on Monday for a couple weeks of roading and free running.





Why do I go to all of this trouble to get my dogs into shape before the seasons even start?  Because I know that weather / work / family issues will take up a number of the days that I can hunt so I don’t want to miss out on any of the opportunities that I do get to hunt because the dogs aren’t physically prepared to hunt.  Also, included in these trainings is getting the human part of the team into shape.  It seems that each year it gets more difficult to fit into the hunting pants at the start of the season.  I’ve been trying to ride my bike more and to make the dog walks longer so that I can shed some pounds.

Tina and I just returned from the vet and she is 4 lbs lighter than at this time last year.  A 10% decrease for her and I think that she actually has more muscle also.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Pheasants Forever Taking “National Pheasant Fest” Event to Milwaukee in 2014

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever will take its National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic event to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the first time, to run February 14-16, 2014 at the Wisconsin Center. The largest show in the country for upland hunters, bird dog owners and wildlife habitat conservationists, the event drew 28,855 people last February in Minneapolis.

National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic returns to Wisconsin for the first time since 2009, when hunters and conservationists visited the 3-day show at Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.
“Pheasants Forever has a strong presence in Wisconsin and the state has a rich conservation tradition, which is why we’re excited to bring our signature event to Milwaukee,” said Howard Vincent, president & CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. Vincent adds that Milwaukee is conveniently located near other strong Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever states – Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana and Michigan – which will allow members from across the region to enjoy the large annual celebration.

Wisconsin is home to 33 Pheasants Forever chapters. In addition to the 790,000 licensed hunters in Wisconsin, the state is second only to Minnesota in sending nonresident upland hunters to the Dakotas – the top two pheasant hunting states – and both South Dakota and North Dakota will be well-represented with exhibitors at the show.

“Milwaukee and Wisconsin are thrilled to host the 2014 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic. As the largest city in a state with a history of upland hunting and wildlife habitat conservation, Milwaukee is the ideal setting for this prestigious family-friendly national event. Among the city’s major attractions, the world’s only Harley-Davidson Museum is sure to be another draw for visiting attendees,” noted Paul Upchurch, president & CEO of VISIT Milwaukee.

National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic is also the country’s largest event for upland hunters, sport dog owners and wildlife habitat conservationists, combining a national outdoor tradeshow, wildlife habitat seminar series, and family event complete with puppies, tractors, shotguns, and art. The event is open to the public.

If you’re interested in exhibiting at Pheasants Forever’s National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic 2014, contact Brad Heidel, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever director of corporate sales, at (651) 209-4956 and/or email Brad. For media inquiries, please contact Rehan Nana, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever public relations specialist, at (651) 209-4973 and/or email Rehan.


Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 135,000 members and 740 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent, the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

2013 Pheasant Hunting Season Dates and Information

We've launched a new site just for Pheasant Hunting Season Dates and Information

PheasantHuntingSeason.com

We will be adding more states and dates as the season progresses.


Monday, July 29, 2013

The 5 Things You Need to Know for the Upcoming Upland Bird Hunting Season

For decades, the folks at Dogs Unlimited have been hunting upland birds and training their hunting dogs for the season ahead. Season after season, they've built up a routine so their dogs are in top condition and ready for a full season.

1. Conditioning Your Hunting Dog
As Alan O Davison, owner of Dogs Unlimited says, "Conditioning is number one on our list because we think it's the most important aspect of getting ready for the upcoming season. A hunting dog that hasn't been conditioned will find it hard to perform, and it may potentially be hazardous for them, but it's also frustrating for their owner."

Conditioning can take many forms. If time or location is limited it may be as easy as walking your dog through the neighborhood or at a park for longer and longer periods of time to build up stamina. This will greatly help your hunting dog and it will also help get you ready for the opening day as well.
If you have the resources, roading your hunting dog may be the best way to get them in condition. Typically, roading is done from an ATV or off of horseback and will greatly increase your dog's stamina and endurance. Check out this video by Dogs Unlimited for a brief discussion of "roading."

2. Training Your Hunting Dog
Depending upon your breed of choice and the age of your hunting dog, the amount of time you spend training them will vary. Also, your expectation of the level of training will be a determining factor as well. The closer to an absolutely finished bird dog - one that will stop to flush, honor/back another dog on point, hold point until released - will take considerably more time, effort and knowledge. Choose what level of dog training will work best for you and the type of hunting experience you would like to have.

Davison says, "The last time your gun dog was trained for the upcoming season shouldn't have been the last day of last season. Your hunting dog is an athlete and during the off season they should be kept tuned up. The pointing breeds require more commitment during the off season especially the younger dogs who are going through the breaking process. For the older dogs, we like to start tuning them up approximately 2 - 3 months prior to opening day."

3. Your Hunting Dog's Feet
Your dog's feet are often the most overlooked part of any hunting season preparation plans. Once their feet are compromised it may be up to a month before they heal up enough to get back into the field.

Davison explains, "While most dogs don't require any attention to their feet, if your hunting dog does blow their pads or are susceptible to foot sores and tenderness you'll want to address this approximately 1 month prior to the hunting season. There are foot conditioning products available like Tuf-Foot and Blue Foot, or a good set of quality dog boots may do the trick." 

Friday, July 12, 2013

2013 Pheasant Nesting Habitat Conditions

Summaries

Colorado
Lasting effects from the drought have carried into this pheasant nesting season as Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) nesting cover was reduced by last summer’s haying and grazing emergency.  And winter wheat, the state’s most important cover for nesting pheasants, was slow to develop this spring due to the cool spring temperatures.

Iowa
Iowa pheasants are struggling to recover from a modern low population point, but on top of continued grassland habitat loss, the weather isn’t doing them any favors.

“This year, unfortunately, we are predicting a decline in bird numbers,” says Todd Bogenschutz, an Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Upland Wildlife Biologist. “Our pheasant population typically shows increases following mild winters and dry, warm springs.  This past winter, while starting mild, ended with a vengeance.”

Kansas
While other parts of pheasant country are recovering from the drought of 2012, Kansas isn’t one of them. In fact, as of mid-summer, all of western Kanas remained in an extreme-to-exceptional drought.

The drought is taking its toll on the pheasant population, as indicated by hunter harvest numbers. Last year, pheasant hunters bagged about 230,000 birds in the state, the lowest harvest in nearly six decades. And this year’s spring breeding population is extremely low. Spring crow counts were down 37 percent region-wide, according to Jim Pitman, Small Game Coordinator with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

Minnesota
Late-season snowstorms, a delayed green-up, and wet conditions during spring and summer definitely impacted the pheasant nesting season in Minnesota. “Many hens likely delayed nest initiation due to weather and habitat conditions or had to re-nest due to failed first attempts,” says Nicole Davros, Upland Game Project Leader with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, “The peak hatch normally occurs during June, but recent heavy rains may have decreased survival rates of chicks that did hatch during this timeframe.”

Montana
In northeast Montana, spring crow counts were 15 percent above the 10-year average, these numbers certainly boosted by moderate winter conditions that resulted in low overwinter mortality.

Nebraska
Coming off an overall mild winter and a spring that helped to replenish some nesting cover following last year’s drought, Jeff Lusk, Jeff Lusk, Upland Game Program Manager, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, remains optimistic that nesting production will be much improved this year.


That is, of course, where quality habitat remains, as more than 108,000 CRP acres in Nebraska were not re-enrolled in the program in the last year. And Lusk reports there were some regional severe winter weather events that could have adversely affected populations, particularly in areas hit hardest by the drought last summer.

North Dakota
Though North Dakota’s s spring crow count was down 11 percent statewide and 12 percent within its core pheasant range, Stan Kohn, Upland Game Management Supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, says late spring/early summer habitat conditions were excellent, leading him to predict a fair nesting outlook in the northern half of the state and a fair-to-good nesting outlook in the southern half.

South Dakota
The most telling statistic to come out of South Dakota this year isn’t weather related. “For the first time in two decades, less than 1 million acres of CRP grasslands will be available to nesting pheasants,” says Travis Runia, “The premier nesting cover has helped sustain high pheasant numbers since CRP was established in 1985.”

South Dakota has become ground-zero for accelerated upland habitat loss and Runia points out the conversion of non-CRP grassland (including native grassland) to cropland has exceeded even the CRP conversion rate, further reducing available nesting cover.


On top of this habitat double whammy, South Dakota experienced a very cold and wet spring – including April snowstorms – which is not favorable for pheasant production. “Birds that had initiated nests in late April probably abandoned their nest, and re-nested when spring-like weather finally arrived in May,” Runia said, “The delay in nesting chronology can limit the time pheasants have to re-nest if their first nests are unsuccessful.” Wet conditions and widespread severe thunderstorms extended into June, the period of peak pheasant hatch.

Read the full reports and the complete Pheasant Blog article