Late-season pheasant hunters are reporting better-than-expected hunts in parts of Iowa.

“We are hearing pretty consistent reports from DNR field staff in northwest, north-central, central and west-central counties that bird numbers are better than originally expected,” says Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 

Excerpts from recent reports include:

  • A Palo Alto County landowner, with well-managed wetlands, harvested 35 roosters off their 140-acre tract.
  • Volunteers conducting the annual Christmas Bird Count had a total of 113 pheasants in and around Dickinson, Clay and Emmet counties.

·         A Kossuth County hunter was out for less than two hours last week and had 20 birds in close range, eight were roosters.

·         Another hunter, hunting only public lands in Cerro Gordo, Hancock, and Kossuth counties, reported being pleasantly surprised by numbers. They saw multiple birds on every outing and harvested at least one rooster on 4 of 5 trips.

·         Another Cerro Gordo County hunter reported harvesting 38 roosters from public ground and 17 more on private land.

·         Two hunters in Woodbury County, each with a rooster in the bag, said they were “having fun” each time they went out hunting.  “Better than last couple of years,” was the consensus.

·         A Boone County hunter reported flushing four roosters and 19 hens on two farms with CRP, this past Saturday.

“Where well-managed habitat is present, hunters are finding birds,” says Bogenschutz. “Particularly well-managed winter cover. Success has been best around public lands with cattails and food plots, or private lands with well-managed grasslands and food plots.”

Landowners interested in providing good winter cover and nesting habitat for pheasants should contact DNR private lands biologists and ask about Iowa’s new Pheasant Recovery CRP practice. To find a nearby private lands biologist, call 515-281-5918.

Pheasant season is open through Friday, Jan. 10.  Hunters are reminded to use caution and be prepared when hunting in current extreme temperatures.