Pheasant hunter. (DNR photo)

Pheasant hunter. (DNR photo)

Thousands of hunters took to the field on the opening weekend of pheasant season, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says it had just two reports of injuries. DNR spokesman, Kevin Baskins, says the first happened in Plymouth County on the first day of the hunt Saturday.

“That gentleman is still in the hospital, he has undergone some surgeries, really don’t know what his condition is, but that one was fairly serious,” Baskins says. Baskins says 18-year-old Ross Arens of Remson was shot in the stomach as he handed a gun to a fellow hunter while trying to cross a creek.

The second accident involved a stray shot by a hunter. “Over by Barnes City in Mahaska County, we had one hunter in a group that shot at a pheasant and hit another person in that group,” according to Baskins. The hunter who was hit came out in better shape.

Baskins says, “Fortunately on that one, it was fairly minor injuries and he was treated and released from the hospital in Oskaloosa.”

He says these and any other accidents with guns can be prevented and stresses again that at this time of year when you have a lot of hunters out in the fields, it’s important to always review where everyone is going to be and review your safety procedures. “One of the unfortunate things about hunting, is once you pull that trigger, you really can’t take that shot back,” Baskins says.

The DNR survey shows the pheasant numbers are up this year, but Baskins says a couple of things may’ve help the birds survive the first weekend. “It was kind of an interesting, unusual pheasant opener for us as it was unseasonably warm, and we do still have some crops in the field,” he explains. “If we get those crops out, those birds are going to be much more accessible.”

That warm weather played against hunters and their dogs in favor of the birds. “In pheasant hunting a lot of times you are really depending on those dogs, and when it gets warm like this it is really hard for those dogs to work very long, they get overheated fairly rapidly in that kind of heat,” Baskins explains.

Baskins says the good news is there should be more birds later in the season this year, as the ones who escaped in standing crops and benefited from tired dogs will still be out there.