Iowa pheasant hunters can expect to find the best bird numbers in northwest, north central and central Iowa and while the number of birds in the field is well below peak years, good hunting opportunities do exist.
“Even with low counts some hunters will have excellent hunts and plenty of opportunities and others will be able to flush a bird or two and put one in the bag,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “The key is good habitat and good dogs.”
The latest crop harvest reports indicate nearly half of the corn remains in the field. As more corn is harvested, pheasants will be concentrated in available habitat. Areas with excellent winter cover like cattails or switch grass have the potential to hold some birds, and currently, the best cover is primarily on public land.
“Hunters looking for birds and are flexible should identify public land with good winter cover in north central, central or northwest Iowa. Those regions have the better pheasant numbers,” he said. Hunters can use the DNR’s online hunter atlas to do some “online” scouting of these areas.
Also available is more than 7,500 acres of private land in 27 counties; to be utilized for public hunting through Iowa’s Hunting and Access Program (IHAP). A list of areas and maps is available at www.iowadnr.gov/ihap.
Hunting pressure will be highest during the first two weekends of the season, and then around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Based on the results of Iowa’s upland game survey, hunters should expect to harvest 100,000 to 150,000 pheasants during the October 26-January 10 season.
Logo courtesy Iowa Department of Natural Resources