Pheasant hunters didn’t have much luck in Iowa last year. Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, announced Tuesday that an estimated 383,000 rooster pheasants were harvested last season. The record low pheasant harvest was expected after severe weather the previous winter and spring.
"We had a real bad winter in (2007-08) and then of course last year, with all the flooding – it was a record setting spring in terms of rainfall," Bogenschutz said. "So, (with) the bad winter, we lost a lot of hens and then the hens that did survive got rained on continuously." Hunters in Iowa, over the last decade, have produced an average annual pheasant harvest of roughly 800,000 birds.
Bogenschutz says the numbers should improve this year. "My gut feeling is we’re going to see the counts go up pretty much statewide," Bogenschutz said. "I don’t think they’ll go up by leaps and bounds, but I definitely think we’re going to see better counts than we saw a year ago."
An estimated 86,000 hunters pursued pheasants last year in the state…also an all-time record low. Hunters from other states canceled their trips to Iowa because they knew the pheasant population was down.
Bogenschutz is hoping the situation improves soon. He says pheasant hunters can spend a lot of money in Iowa on hotels, restaurants and supplies. Bogenschutz says a survey conducted in 1996 estimated that the economic impact of bird hunting in Iowa at $225-million.
The D.N.R. will begin conducting roadside surveys in August and issue its annual pheasant forecast around September first. This year’s pheasant hunting season runs from October 31st to January 10th. Bogenschutz says hunters can receive updates on the pheasant forecast by visiting DNR website .