The Iowa pheasant season opens October 29. The DNR is optimistic about the season after five consecutive years of higher population surveys and bird harvests.
The Iowa DNR annual August roadside survey predicts Iowa pheasant hunters can expect to have good hunting this fall, and likely more company in the field. Nearly 60,000 hunters are expected to be in the field during the season.
“At this point, it appears much of our corn and beans will be out of the fields by the opener, which will concentrate birds to grass areas and make hunters happy," said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist for the Iowa DNR. " If we have good weather, I think we could see a bump in hunter numbers and birds harvested.”
The survey found an average of 21 pheasants per 30 mile route statewide, with higher counts coming from counties crossing the state diagonally from northwest to southeast. The statewide average in 2015 was 24 pheasants per route.
Bogenschutz said he has noticed more birds near field edges and along the roads as the crops have been coming out.
“I’ve been seeing some birds around on my way in to the office and have been getting a few phone calls from around the state from people also seeing birds,” he said. ““The birds are here, we need hunters to return.”
Iowa’s pheasant population could sustain a harvest of 500,000 roosters, but it will not reach that level until there are 90,000 hunters afield. In 2015, some 55,000 hunters harvested 270,000 Iowa roosters.
Regulations covering pheasant hunting are unchanged from last year. There is a limit of three roosters per day, 12 roosters in possession, and hunters are required to wear one piece of solid blaze orange clothing. If hunting public land, be sure to check if steel shot is required. If cleaning the birds in the field, be sure to leave the head, fully feathered wing or leg attached while transporting the bird home.
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