Some 74,000 hunters are counting down the hours for this weekend’s start of pheasant season in Iowa.

Todd Bogenschutz, a D.N.R. wildlife biologist, expects a big turnout for the Saturday opening, thanks to the exceptional fall harvest the past several weeks which has whittled down much of the birds’ habitat.

“This year’s going to be a lot different than last year,” he says. “Last year at this time, only 6% of the corn crop was out and this year on the opener, we’re probably going to be looking at maybe 80-percent of the corn out, so big difference.”

Bogenschutz, who’s based in Boone, says there will be no changes in Iowa’s hunting regulations this year, as the bag limits and shooting hours remain the same. He says the pheasant numbers still aren’t looking very good.

“Based on the flooding we had this year and the really bad winter we had ten months ago, the counts were down pretty much statewide for the fourth consecutive year in a row,” Bogenschutz says. “We’re not really expecting any change in the harvest from last year. Actually, we might harvest a few less.” He stressed that hunters must get permission to hunt on private land, adding, proper attire is another key to hunter safety.

Wear a fair amount of blaze orange, he says, whether it’s a hat, vest or jacket. It should be on the upper half of the body so it’s visible, even in tall grass. Before heading out, discuss a hunting plan and follow it so everyone knows where everyone else will be. The season runs from October 30th through January 10th.

By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City