The annual pheasant season opens Saturday and the man who keeps track of bird counts across the state believes it could be a good one. DNR pheasant biologist, Todd Bogenschutz says the survey numbers shows a rebound in bird numbers in the August count.
“I am expecting hunters should see some more birds and that we’ll see an uptick in hunter numbers. I think the crop harvest is going to make it a challenge, with the late planting and then the wet weather we’ve had has really put them behind,” Bogenschutz says.
Crops give pheasants a place to hide. “When the crops are standing, they’ll pretty much stay there all day,” Bogenschutz says. He says if the crops are out, they will go out to feed in the morning and midafternoon and then they go back to grassy cover areas.
Saturday and Sunday could be big days for hunters. Bogenschutz says 30 to 40-percent of the total harvest happens during the first two weekends and nine days of the hunt. “We might see…somewhere around 50 to 60,000 birds harvested in the first nine days or so,” Bogenschutz says.
With farmers still in the field, there’s some added safety concerns. He says both the hunters and the farmers out in the fields should be aware and he says hunters should be wearing blaze orange. Bogenschutz says hunters in a group should be sure to have a plan and stick with it.
Hunters harvested 10,000 more pheasants in 2013 than 2012 despite record low survey counts. Bogenschutz says the harvest this year could get as high as 300,000.
Hunting hours for Iowa’s pheasant seasons are 8 a.m. until 4:30 each day. The daily limit is three rooster pheasants. The season closes on January 10th.