Iowa’s pheasant season mirrored the economy somewhat last year as the number of birds taken dropped to a record low. While it’s still not known if the economy has turned around, Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Todd Bogenschutz says he expects some recovery for pheasant numbers.
Bogenschutz says they always watch the weather in April and May and the peak hatch time is around June 10th to the 15th. He says he didn’t like seeing the heavy rain recently, but hopes the birds will pull through the hatch okay. Bogenschutz says the winter months were key in the low harvest last year as the record snowfall killed off birds before they got to the spring.
He says this year was more normal with 32 inches of snow compared to the normal 25 inches. And he says a drier spring also helped the adult birds survive. Bogenschutz predicts more birds survived and will combine with the hatch to increase overall numbers.
Bogenschutz says he’d like to see the numbers double, but doesn’t think the rebound will be that good, and says a 20 to 40% increase in bird numbers is more likely. He says they’ll get a better picture of how well the pheasants have rebounded when the do their fall roadside survey.
He says they usually do the counts in August when the pheasant chicks are about half grown and the hens bring them to the side of the road to get out of the dew. Hunters took 383,000 pheasants in 2008, down from 630,000 in 2007 and 750,000 in 2006. You can find out more about the pheasant harvest on the D.N.R.’s website .