The Iowa Department of Natural Resources annual August roadside survey predicts Iowa pheasant hunters can expect to have good hunting this fall, and likely more company in the field. The optimistic mood is a natural outcome of five consecutive years of higher population surveys and hunter harvests.
The survey found an average of 21 pheasants per 30 mile route statewide, with higher counts coming from counties crossing the state diagonally from northwest to southeast. The statewide average in 2015 was 24 pheasants per route.
“At this point, it appears much of our corn and beans will be out of the fields by the opener, which will concentrate birds to grass areas and make hunters happy. If we have good weather, I think we could see a bump in hunter numbers and birds harvested,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist for the Iowa DNR.
Bogenschutz said he has noticed more birds near field edges and along the roads as the crops have been coming out.
“I’ve been seeing some birds around on my way in to the office and have been getting a few phone calls from around the state from people also seeing birds,” he said. ““The birds are here, we need hunters to return.”
Iowa’s pheasant population could sustain a harvest of 500,000 roosters, but it will not reach that level until there are 90,000 hunters afield. In 2015, some 55,000 hunters harvested 270,000 Iowa roosters.
Hunters can read the August roadside survey, review hunting regulations, buy a license and find a place to hunt online at www.iowadnr.gov/hunting