Among upland bird hunters across the ring-necked pheasant range all summer long, discussions echoed with consistency: How is this widespread drought affecting the habitat and the birds in the places I like to hunt, and the places I am considering traveling to hunt, this fall?
Of course, there are your Eeyores (the it’s all over and there ain’t no pheasants left crowd), as well as your Polyannas (the quitch-yer worryin’ it’s gonna be just fine crowd). The truth, as with most topics, falls somewhere in between. It also depends on the state you are considering, and even specific regions within each state. That’s what Pheasants Forever’s annual state-by-state Pheasant Hunting Forecasts are all about: Starting down your research road for this year’s hunts. Click on a state and get started.
Think that’s a punt? Here are the neck stretchers. North Dakota and Montana got hit hardest by drought, and of the core pheasant states, hunting will be most challenging on the far northern plains. Minnesota will have birds, and in localized places, maybe more than one would expect. Same with Iowa, the up-and-coming pheasant hunting powerhouse state. Kansas and Nebraska will be about like last year, which is to say fair to good depending on region.
Everywhere, though, beware: Emergency haying and grazing happened. Habitat is going to look and feel and be different. Do not be surprised at what you find. That circles us to the final point, the everything point: HABITAT. Despite the ring-necked pheasant’s survival grit and determination and resiliency, the birds’ prospects are only as good as the habitat available to them.
If you’re reading this forecast, you hunt pheasants or want to. If you hunt pheasants or want to, and don’t belong to Pheasants Forever, it’s time. No more freeloading. Give back to the habitat and the birds, and show your support. Since inception, PF has impacted over 21 million acres of habitat, and created over 212,00 acres of permanently public wild places to hunt and recreate. Upland wildlife habitat and public lands need you. Join, renew or extend and for a limited time get $25 Bass Pro Cabela's gift card to boot.