Pheasant Season Opens In Iowa: DNR Optimistic After Bird Count
Iowa hunters have good reason to be excited as the state's pheasant population appears to be on the rise, and conditions are shaping up for an excellent opening weekend for the 2023 pheasant season. According to the annual August roadside survey, Iowa's statewide pheasant population has seen a remarkable 15 percent increase compared to the previous year, with the most significant gains noted in the southwest, northwest, and northeast regions.
According to a news release from the Iowa DNR, Todd Bogenschutz, an upland wildlife biologist, described the current situation as ideal, stating, "We couldn't ask for better opening weekend conditions." Notably, Iowa's bird population is now at its highest since 2015, and much of the corn and soybean crops will have been harvested by the season's start. These factors, combined with cooler weekend temperatures, have set the stage for an abundance of pheasants to be taken early by hunters.
The August roadside survey estimates that Iowa hunters can expect to harvest between 300,000 to 400,000 roosters this year, a range similar to the past two years when the harvest reached the highest levels in over a decade. The Iowa DNR estimates 50,000 hunters will take to the fields during the opening weekend, which begins tomorrow (10/28) across the state.
An essential aspect to note is that parts of Iowa affected by drought were opened to haying the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), so hunters are advised to scout their chosen hunting areas before the season begins.
In addition to pheasant hunting, quail season is also set to open on this weekend. The fall covey counts indicate that the quail population might be slightly better than last year. Quail hunting primarily takes place in the southern two tiers of counties.
For hunters looking for suitable locations, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources offers a valuable tool in the form of an Online Hunting Atlas. This interactive atlas provides information on over 680,000 acres of public hunting land owned by the state, county, or federal governments. It offers details on zones, shot type allowed, expected wildlife, terrain, and even a mobile version that can display your location.
As the pheasant population looks to be soaring, Iowa's hunting season promises an exciting and productive time for both seasoned and new hunters. With favorable conditions to bag your limit, it's the perfect chance to experience the thrill of pheasant hunting and pass on the tradition to the next generation.
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