Northwest Iowa looking good for pheasants according to DNR bird count

KELOLAND.com Original

A pheasant in habitat in Iowa. Photo courtesy of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources

NORTHWEST IOWA (KELO) — Pheasant hunters who choose Iowa could have good luck in northwest and western Iowa, according to the Iowa Department of Resources.

“We think basically the whole northwest half the state is going to have a pretty good season. Our folks around Spirit Lake are saying it could be our best season in 30 years as far as bird numbers,” said Todd Bogenschutz, an upland wildlife biologist with the Iowa DNR.

Hunters have a potential harvest of 300,000 birds based on the number of expected hunters, Bogenshutz said of the statewide harvest. The bird count shows the potential harvest could be as high as 500,000, but that depends on hunter turnout, he said.

The Iowa DNR conducts an annual bird count each Aug. 1-15. The regions of northwest, north-central and west central averaged 30 birds or more per route, which is the first time that has occurred since 2007, according to the DNR.

Iowa’s DNR has done a bird count each year since 1962. The count has some precise parameters.

Iowa DNR biologists and conservation officers drive their assigned routes at 10-15 miles per hour and count all the pheasants, quail, partridge, rabbits and jackrabbits seen. The DNR has 210 30-mile routes that total 6,300 miles.

The routes are driven at dawn on mornings with heavy dew because the DNR says pheasants don’t like to be wet. Hen pheasants will move their broods to the edge of a gravel road to dry off before feeding.

The accuracy of the counts depend on the dew conditions when the routes are run, according to the DNR.

Iowa’s pheasant season is from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Oct. 30 through Jan. 10. The daily bag limit is three rooster pheasants with a possession limit of 12.

View the DNR hunting atlas online.

Resident hunting/habitat combo license for $35. Nonresident hunting/habitat (age 18 and over) annual license is $144. A nonresident five-day fee is $90 and that does not include deer or turkey.

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