A public land, Iowa ringneck. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever
For the first time in five years, Iowa’s pheasant population was given a reprieve from tough weather, and though habitat losses are still a major concern, the state’s roadside survey indicated a slight increase in pheasant numbers. Did those surveys transfer to what hunters found during the opening of Iowa’s pheasant hunting season this past weekend? From the field:
I hunted with a couple of friends in Winnebago County on Saturday for the Iowa pheasant opener. There was a lot of hunter activity in my area on both public and private land. We were only able to hunt for a couple hours but we ended up with three roosters and we had more than enough opportunities to limit out. The Winnebago/Hancock County PF chapter had their banquet on Saturday night and almost everyone I talked to was pleased with how their hunt went. Not surprisingly, most of the hunters that limited out were finding their birds in high-quality, diverse native vegetation as opposed to low-quality cover like bromegrass.
- Joshua A. Divan, Farm Bill Biologist, Pheasants Forever - Winnebago County
I hunted Mahaska County and saw half a dozen birds. With almost all the crops out of the fields already, birds are congregated in any remaining standing corn or CRP. I saw more pheasants this weekend than the past couple openers combined; also flushed a covey of quail for the first time in several years. Our upland bird populations have definitely benefited from the warm winter and dry spring in locations where there’s good habitat on the ground.
- Eric Sytsma, Farm Bill Biologist, Pheasants Forever – Mahaska and Poweshiek Counties
Cold winters and wet springs have not been friendly to northeast Iowa’s pheasant populations. Following a mild winter and a droughty spring, opening day made things look much better than the previous few years. Hunting on a farm in southeast Delaware County, we saw a few roosters and many hens. The corn was vastly un-harvested adjacent to habitat, so most of the birds were likely still hanging out in the un-picked corn. Having five hens flush in one spot is enough to make anyone here rejoice, even without a rooster in the bag.
- Chris Hiher, Farm Bill Biologist, Pheasants Forever – Buchanan, Delaware, and Dubuque
It was a short, fun hunt on the opener in southeast Iowa. Got out for about an hour and moved more than 40 birds.
- Tom Fuller, Iowa State Coordinator, Pheasants Forever
Have you been pheasant hunting in Iowa this year? If so, post your own report in the comments section below.
Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.