Iowa Pheasants Down Again, But…

September 7, 2011 | By | 3 Replies More

Iowa used to be a pretty major destination for pheasant hunters, but the last few years has put the kabosh on that. This year won’t help either.

The Iowa DNR just released a short, to the point forecast that can be summed up in this quote from it: “The Iowa pheasant population has fallen to a new all-time low….”

Yikes. Bear in mind that 2010 also was a new all-time low.

What does that mean in numbers? A “statewide average of 7 birds counted for each 30-mile route driven…. The 2010 statewide average was 11 birds per route.” Compare that to 2004 when the count was almost 10 times that….

(Source: IA DNR)

“The last 5 years have been really frustrating for Iowa hunters and for the department,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the DNR. “Plain and simple, we have lost hens and nests consecutively each of the last 5 years because of unprecedented weather patterns for Iowa.”

That means five tough winters and wet nesting seasons. Not good – though it should be pointed out that Iowa is hardly alone this year in reporting decreased bird numbers due to weather. Minnesota, Nebraska and even South Dakota reported similar drops this year – though at least one of those states (SD) is bound to get some hunters that used to go to Iowa.


If your only choice is to hunt Iowa and you’re Serious, you’re going hunting anyway, right? Some birds are there. They may be tougher to find or tougher to hunt or both, but they’re there.

What else are you going to do – sit in a tree and watch for deer?


For those of us who don’t live in pheasant country, here’s an interesting tidbit about pheasant counts from the Iowa DNR website:

“Each year the Iowa DNR uses a roadside survey to assess its upland game populations. The August Roadside Survey is conducted on sunny calm, mornings, with a heavy dew on the grass, between Aug. 1-15 of each year. Most upland wildlife, particularly pheasants, hate to be wet. On mornings with a heavy dew, hen pheasants bring their broods to the roadsides to dry off before they begin feeding. This natural tendency allows the birds to be counted and reproduction can be evaluated by counting the number of broods seen and their size.”


Category: 2011, Forecasts/counts, IA, Pheasants

Comments (3)

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  1. Chris Nielsen says:

    “[W}e have lost hens and nests consecutively each of the last 5 years because of unprecedented weather patterns for Iowa.”

    So what is SBH’s position on climate change?

    I think we are seeing more statements similar to that above coming from more sate wildlife agencies, and its going to get worse.

  2. bill crew says:

    I know there will be many who disagree… But, being an avid Iowa pheasant hunter for 35 plus years with a deep passion for this bird. I have found that the states late burning in the spring has killed quite a few eggs in the nest. I have walked through after these burnings and noted the devistation caused. The states response is… “they (birds) will renest.” Although this is true, they (state) neglect the fact that after the first nesting all following clutches will only have a few eggs. Compare this to the first nesting of 9-12 plus eggs that were destroyed. Who is doing the math? While it is a good idea to burn (sometime) regulations on burning need to be in place to bring back our bird numbers to healthy levels!!!!! P.S. KILL COYOTES!

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