DNR Announces Moderate Gains in Pheasant Population

Iowa Pheasant Population shows increase after Mild winter and spring 

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) 2012 August Upland Wildlife Roadside Survey shows the statewide pheasant population has increased 16 percent when compared to last year.

“We expected to see an increase after the first mild winter in five years and we have, but it will take another two to three years of good weather for the population to fully recover from five straight years of heavy snow and cool wet springs,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the DNR.

The average birds counted per 30 mile route statewide increased from 6.8 birds to 8 birds in 2012. The highest pheasant counts per route are in the northwest region, with 16, central region, with 13, and north central region with 10. The survey also showed an increase in the number of partridge and quail, while cottontail numbers were unchanged.

While the pheasant recovery is not as large as predicted, it is a step in the right direction and hunters should see a few more birds while hunting this fall. The 2012 pheasant hunting season runs from October 27 through January 10, 2013.

“Well managed habitat is also critical for recovery,” Bogenschutz said. “The DNR has worked with private landowners to improve wildlife habitat on more than 7,000 acres of private lands in exchange for access for hunters.” Information on Iowa’s Habitat Access Program is available at

The DNR has been working with Pheasants Forever to expand our cooperative partnership working with private landowners to improve habitat.” An important part of this effort is the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and this effort is critical for pheasant to recovery in Iowa.

“We no longer have hay or small grain fields to raise pheasants,” said Bogenschutz. “CRP is a key habitat for the birds on private lands.” U.S. Department of Agriculture information shows 288 square miles of CRP fields expire next year in Iowa.

The full roadside report can be downloaded from the department’s webpage at

Hunters Enjoy Opening Weekend of Iowa’s Second Dove Season

The threat of rain did not hold up hunters, heading into the field for Iowa’s 2012 mourning dove season, Saturday, September 1. Most of those 30,000 expected hunters learned that early is better, as they pursue the state’s newest game species.

The migrating doves focus on food plots, as they move through Iowa. Most public wildlife areas had worked food plots into their management plans. And crowds of hunters responded.

“It was great. We had a real good morning of hunting. We were done about a quarter after 8 or so,” reviewed Chad Rotter, of Amana. He and Mike Chismar, of Cedar Rapids, camped near their hunting area on Hawkeye Wildlife Area in northern Johnson County. By dawn, they had rolled out of their bunks and had their set up ready to go.

In this second season of mourning dove hunting in Iowa, wingshooters are embracing the new opportunity. Part of that challenge is learning to pattern the diving, ducking feathered ‘missiles’ as they pass by.

“They’re tricky, flying birds. It requires a pretty good shot. You’re not going to get one every time you shoot. It’s quite a challenge. Quite a sport,” admitted Chismar. “It was a heck of a lot better than my first time out last year. It was three or four days after the season opened. It was great to be out here opening day. Lotta birds.”

Wildlife biologists and hunters who have pursued doves in other states expect the biggest concentration of birds in the first couple weeks of the season. Hunters are also learning to work in a crowd. Many public areas had five, eight, even a dozen vehicles parked in the lots or along road shoulders. Spread up and down the line of mowed sunflower fields, for instance, hunter safety…and etiquette…are foremost.

“Talk to the people in your groups. Give them a zone of fire that they will have. If they don’t have the shot, they need to leave it to the next person,” emphasized DNR conservation officer Aric Sloterdyk. “If it’s not there, it goes to the next group. Wait for the next bird to come.”

Sloterdyk, who worked Benton and Linn counties on opening day, said hunters were pretty successful; some limits, others with 4, 5 or 10 birds (the daily limit is 15 mourning doves).

“The birds were coming in on the mowed sunflower fields. Hunters were taking shorter shots. They’re just not used to it yet. Overall, they had pretty good success,” Sloterdyk said.

Hunters still need to gauge those shots. Many packed in a couple boxes of shotgun shells (25 each) but had to head back to the truck for more before they were done for the day.

“There weren’t as many going out as last year (though),” estimated Sloterdyk. “They may be getting the hang of it.” Iowa’s mourning dove season extends through November 9.

Online Hunter Safety Course Now compatible with mobile technology

Students who need to complete a hunter safety course to get their hunting license can now take the first step of that training on their smart phone, tablet or laptop at

The pages at automatically resize according to the device used, from a smart phone to Internet TV. There’s no app to download and each page is easy to view and read.

Students can access the course on the Web even if the only way they have to connect to the Internet is via their smart phone.

The training at is state-approved and covers the same material that’s taught in the classroom. The new mobile-ready site features realistic illustrations and interactive animations. An optional narration feature is available in many states, allowing students to hear the course in English and Spanish. also has introduced a series of hunter safety videos. The new videos cover topics such as tree stand hunting safety, firearms safety, hunting from a ground blind, effectiveness of blaze orange and more.

Studying at is free. Students who must be certified before buying a hunting license pay a one-time fee, which is due only if they pass the test.

Locating and Signing Up for a Field Day

After passing the online portion of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources hunter education course, you will need to locate and sign up for the required field day.

To locate and sign up for a field day in your area, go to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website at

Warning! Passing the online course does not guarantee you a spot at a field day.

Fall classes are filling up fast so to ensure your spot in the hunting field sign up today!

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