posted on November 25, 2013 07:59
Pheasant hunting isn’t like it used to be in Iowa. Between 1962 and 1999, hunters have harvested one million birds 31 times. Since the turn of the new century, it’s only happened twice. In the past, Iowa hosted anywhere from 30,000-50,000 nonresident hunters each year, but as the bird populations have decreased so have the number of tourists.
This spring was one of Iowa’s wettest on record, which didn’t provide an ideal environment for pheasant chicks to hatch and develop. This season, pheasant hunters are seeing a record low 6.5 birds per 30-mile route, which is pretty consistent with what we have seen the past couple years.
With that said, hundreds of Iowa hunters still came out for opening day. For many, the bird hunting tradition doesn’t stop just because there are fewer birds to shoot for. Even with the daily bag limit probably out of reach, spending time with friends and family and letting the dogs run loose for a little while is what the sport really is about.
North central, central and northwestern portions of the state are where hunters will find the best cover and the best opportunities. Even with Northwest Iowa’s pheasant index dropping to 12.3 birds per acre, the area still has nearly double the statewide average.
To find out where the best and nearest pheasant hunting areas are located, there are plenty of online resources you can check out. Iowa’s DNR hunting atlas is a great place to start when looking for public hunting grounds. It gives you a run-down of the 60,000+ acres of public hunting lands.
If you’re looking to hunt on private land, you can view the state’s hunter access guide, which provides information on about 7,500 acres.
What are you most looking forward to this season?
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