Plenty of roosters in the fields and light hunting pressure are two good reasons why Minnesotans should keep their pheasant hunting gear handy, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
“People may not realize that pheasant hunting success is probably as good as it has been in many parts of the pheasant range for the last three to five years,” said Cory Netland, DNR area wildlife supervisor for six counties in the Willmar area.
The daily bag limit is two roosters through November with a possession limit of six. Beginning Tuesday, Dec. 1, the daily bag limit increases to three roosters with a possession limit of nine. Weather conditions during the first few weeks of the season were warmer and drier than average, making it tougher for hunters and their dogs. However, temperatures are cooling off and recent rains should help dogs pick up the scent of birds.
“Conditions are shaping up nicely for the last half of the season, and there are still plenty of birds out there,” said Nicole Davros, DNR upland game project leader.
Pheasants are still using grassland cover and haven’t appeared to move to winter cover just yet. Pheasants will move to winter cover such as cattail sloughs or willow thickets once grasses get pushed down by snow or heavy rains.
Snow shouldn’t scare hunters away. “A light snow can actually help with pheasant hunting because it makes it easier to find roosters in winter cover,” Netland said. “And hunting access improves once cattail wetlands freeze up.”
Many DNR wildlife managers have noted that hunting pressure has been lighter than expected so far. Yet those who have spent time in the fields have had plenty of opportunities to harvest roosters. Some hunters have even reported filling their daily bag limits within their first hour afield. The upcoming holidays will take even more attention away from pheasant hunting, yet hunting can be a part of holiday traditions.
“There is no better way to spend time with family and friends while walking off the holiday calories than pushing through tall grasses and cattails for the chance to harvest roosters,” Davros said.
Hunters need a small game license and a pheasant stamp to hunt pheasants in Minnesota. A small game license costs $22 for Minnesota residents age 18 to 64, and the pheasant stamp costs $7.50. Pheasant hunters 65 and older need to buy a small game license for $13.50 but are not required to buy a stamp. Hunters age 16 to 17 must buy a $5 small game license but do not need to buy a stamp, and hunters under 16 can hunt pheasants without a license or stamp. Minnesota’s 2015 pheasant season is open through Sunday, Jan. 3. Shooting hours are 9 a.m. to sunset. Additional details are available on the pheasant hunting page
Story by Minnesota DNR / Photo by Emy Marier, Pheasants Forever