Thursday, August 30, 2018

North Dakota 2018 Spring Pheasant Count Down 30 Percent From 2017

North Dakota’s spring pheasant population index is down 30 percent from the same time last year, according to the state Game and Fish Department’s 2018 spring crowing count survey.

R.J. Gross, upland game management biologist, said the number of roosters heard crowing this spring was down statewide, with decreases ranging from 15 to 38 percent in the primary regions holding pheasants.

“We entered spring with a lower than average number of adult birds,” Gross said. “Last year’s production was far below average due to the statewide drought conditions.”

However, Gross said the past winter was good for bird survival, so hens should be in good physical shape for the nesting season.

“In addition, this spring’s weather has been good so far, as most of the state has received adequate rainfall,” he added. “If the trend continues, a good hatch should be expected, but it will take a few years of good reproduction to get the population back to where it was before the drought.” 

While the spring number is an indicator, Gross said it does not predict what the fall population will look like. Brood surveys, which begin in late July and are completed by September, provide a much better estimate of summer pheasant production and what hunters might expect for a fall pheasant population.

Pheasant crowing counts are conducted each spring throughout North Dakota. Observers drive specified 20-mile routes, stopping at predetermined intervals, and counting the number of pheasant roosters heard crowing over a two-minute period during the stop.

The number of pheasant crows heard is compared to previous years’ data, providing a trend summary. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

South Dakota 2018 Pheasant Survey Indicates 47% Increase for 100th Hunting Season

PIERRE, S.D. – According to the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP), this year’s pheasant brood survey shows a 47 percent increase over last year. The 2018 statewide pheasants-per-mile (PPM) index is 2.47, up from the 2017 index of 1.68.

“A substantial increase in the pheasants-per-mile index is an exciting prospect for South Dakota’s 100th pheasant hunting season this fall,” stated Kelly Hepler, GFP Secretary. “Weather conditions continue to play a significant role when it comes to bird numbers and better weather helped this year with the average pheasant brood size increasing 22 percent over last year.”

From late July through mid-August, GFP surveyed 110, thirty-mile routes across the state’s pheasant range to estimate pheasant production and calculate the PPM index. The survey is not a population estimate, but rather compares the number of pheasants observed on the routes and establishes trend information. Statewide, 85 of the 110 survey routes had a higher PPM than 2017.

“We are pleased to see pheasant numbers improve across the state; particularly in the far eastern part of the state where hunters will have more opportunities to harvest birds than in recent years,” stated Hepler. “The full report provides an overview of upland habitat; which remains a concern for all wildlife across the state. Just as changes in landscape-level habitat conditions have produced peaks and valleys in the pheasant population for 100 years, habitat will again be the key to preserving pheasant hunting for another century."

The Walk-in Area (WIA) program added 39,000 new acres in addition to 8,000 new acres last year. With 1.1 million acres of public hunting land within the heart of South Dakota’s pheasant range, great opportunities remain for public access to pheasant hunting. Hepler said hunters should notice far fewer disturbed CRP fields compared to last year when emergency haying and grazing was authorized in response to severe drought conditions.

The annual hunting atlas and a web-based interactive map of public lands and private lands leased for public hunting can be found at In addition to printed and interactive maps, hunters can utilize GPS downloads and smartphone applications to locate public hunting lands throughout the state. Hunters are again asked to hunt safely and ethically, respect private landowners and those public hunting areas scattered across the state.

“Challenges exist to maintain habitat, desirable pheasant population levels, and to recruit a new generation of hunters to preserve this truly special sport of pheasant hunting. Take time this fall to celebrate the hunt, the sense of community and comradery while appreciating how deeply rooted the tradition of pheasant hunting has been for the last 100 years,” concluded Hepler.  

South Dakota’s traditional statewide pheasant hunting season opens on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, and runs through Jan. 6, 2019.

Original SD GFP article

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Iowa’s 2018 pheasant population second highest in a decade

BOONE - Iowa’s pheasant hunters can expect to find more birds this fall when they head to the fields, predict state wildlife experts. That forecast is based on the recently completed statewide population survey of pheasants, quail, partridge, cottontail rabbits and jackrabbits.

Iowa’s pheasant population increased in every nine county region except northwest where it was similar to last year. The survey counted a state average of 21 birds per 30 mile route which translates to a statewide harvest estimate of 250,000 to 300,000 roosters this fall.
The August roadside survey is tool used by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to physically record the number of upland game seen while driving the survey routes. It’s a product of 218 30-mile routes across that state that are conducted Aug. 1-15 beginning at sunrise. The survey has used the same routes since 1962.

“We weren’t sure what to expect from the survey this year because the spring weather was all over the board and it likely impacted some nesting success,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the Iowa DNR. April started cold with 10-20 inches of snow across northern Iowa and then switched to warm and dry by the end of May.
“The take home message is, if you had good hunting last year, you can expect similar hunting or better hunting across most of the state this year,” he said.

The 2018 count was an increase over the 15 birds per route in 2017. However, Bogenschutz said dry conditions in 2017 likely did not accurately reflect the pheasant population and when adjusted for the lack of dew the population would be similar, but still slightly lower than 2018.

Another positive for hunters is the quail and cottontail rabbit populations, both at present day highs.

“Anyone who has ever had an interest in quail hunting or hasn’t hunted quail recently – this would be a good fall to go,” Bogenschutz said.

Iowa’s quail range is across the southern third of the state. Rabbits are abundant in all parts of Iowa with the highest populations in southern and east central regions.

Partridge population is similar to 2017 with the highest population in central and northern Iowa.

The lone exception is jackrabbits which have seen its numbers fall likely due to a landscape that shifted from producing small grains and fields of short grasses to larger fields of corn and soybeans.

The August roadside survey and game distribution maps are available online at

Saturday, August 11, 2018

South Dakota Pheasant Hunting Video – American Heroes Outdoors

AHO Season2: Episode 5 This Episode wraps up our six day pheasant hunting adventure that spanned across two states! We hunted hard for six days straight and made a lot of new friends!

Friday, August 10, 2018

How you — and your dog — should prep for pheasant season


The state Game, Fish and Parks Department will conclude its pheasant brood survey on Wednesday. While the final report is not intended to be a true population estimate, many hunters view it that way. In fact, the report, which is traditionally unveiled around Labor Day weekend, is heralded as the “unofficial official” kickoff to pheasant season.
But if you’ve waited until mid- to late August to kick off your pheasant season, you’re already a day late and a dollar short. If you wait around for a report to tell you how many roosters, hens and chicks wildlife officials record on predetermined routes before you make your hunting plans for this fall, you’re missing the point.
No matter the year, a limit of pheasants never magically appears on your doorstep or hits your windshield as soon as you head out hunting. Success in the pheasant fields — just like in the deer stand or the duck blind — takes work, and the work should have already started.

Do the leg work

Regardless of which direction numbers are trending, pheasant hunting starts with a mindset. Wild birds are growing smarter and wilder each year, and if there are fewer birds on the landscape than last year, you’d better make up your mind that you’ll be ready to go the extra mile for your birds.
To go the extra mile, your dog needs to be in tip-top hunting shape prior to the season’s opening bell. Temperatures will likely still be in the 70s and 80s at times in mid- to late October. An overweight, out-of-shape pet is exponentially more susceptible to heat stress than a properly conditioned gun dog.
Too many hunters expect their dogs to be rock stars right out of the gate, even if the dogs have seen nothing but the inside of a kennel for the last nine months. With pheasant season only two months away, there’s still time to knock some rust off your dog prior to the season.
If you plan on walking or running your dog in town this time of year to get it back in shape, remember that concrete sidewalks and asphalt roads can really heat up during a sunny day and can hurt or burn a dog’s pads. If you wouldn’t walk on it barefoot, then it’s too hot for your dog.
If you run your dog in a cover, keep in mind that most types of cover actually trap heat and humidity. So, on an 80-degree day it’s likely going to feel more like 90 or 95 degrees to your dog as it meanders through the cover.
In addition to walks and field work, even backyard sessions where simple obedience commands — sit, stay, heel, come, kennel — are reinforced and will start reprogramming your dog’s brain into performance mode.
These are also ideal situations to get the entire family involved, as kids enjoy getting outside and helping train their dogs. Plus, it gives them an opportunity to see their house pet transform into a gun dog, doing what it was bred to do.
Being in shape goes for pheasant hunters, too. Early season treks through even light cover can take their toll on an out-of-shape hunter’s lungs, joints and muscles, and it’s easy to forget how difficult it is to bust through heavy cover such as cattails and waist-deep CRP.
Not being able to finish a walk or having to quit a hunt early because you or your dog are out of shape is completely avoidable, so start preparing now for the physical aspects of pheasant season.

Do your homework

Read the rest of the AberdeenNews article


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