The Iowa Department of Natural Resources reports pheasant hunters harvested took nearly 284,000 roosters in Iowa during the 2019 season — which was around ten percent less than last year.
DNR wildlife biologist, Todd Bogenschutz, says some of the drop in could be due to a drop in the number of hunters last season.
“In 2018 we had about 53,300. This past year looks like 51-nine, so a little decline in numbers,” Bogenschutz says.
He says the opening of the season did not start well with a lot of crops still in the field due to the late harvest. Bogenschutz says the average hunter only hunts four or five days and two of those days might be on the opening day or opening week. Bogenschutz says when the first days don’t produce a lot of birds, it does impact overall numbers. He says the hunting later in the season was pretty good as more crops came out of the fields.
The season ended in January before the pandemic started. Outdoor activities have seen an increase in participation since the pandemic — and Bogenschutz says there’s hope that will carry over to the pheasant season in October. “You know, we saw a good jump in our turkey hunter numbers — we’ve seen a good jump in our fishing license sales this year –and so with the COVID thing and folks, still kind of encouraged to work at remotely were are kind of thinking maybe it could last into the pheasant opener and deer season, and maybe even after that,” according to Bogenschutz.
He believes the extra time people have with the pandemic shutdowns is driving the increase in outdoor interest. “It’s not because people didn’t want to hunt — it seems like it is almost a time issue — you know there’s a lot of competition for kids’ time and adults’ time. And boy when they had the time, they sure showed up this spring to go fishing and turkey hunting. It will be interesting to see what happens this fall,” Bogenschutz says.
One of the keys to success is also the number of birds available. The DNR will soon release the results of its roadside survey of the pheasant population.