IA, MN Phez Habitat: Now’s the Time

November 2, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More

(Image: Tomboart.com)

Seems like these bird forecasts are like media coverage of the economy: self-fulfilling, and rarely good. A recent article in MN’s Star Tribune newspaper noted that:

“The predicted decline in Minnesota’s pheasant population this season has caused some hunters to skip ringneck hunting. The Department of Natural Resources sold 66,747 pheasant stamps through [Oct. 17], 10,300 fewer than the same time last year. That’s a 13 percent drop.”

From there, you get a lower harvest count reported next year, and so on.

Meanwhile Iowa continues to suffer through the effects of its poor pheasant outlook. From the Sioux City Journal:

> Pheasants Forever regional wildlife biologist John Linquist of Sibley, Iowa, on Tuesday lamented the trend toward fewer hunters, compounded in recent years by fewer ringneck pheasants thriving in Iowa.

> “I don’t hear a shot on opening day. I don’t see hunters on opening day,” Linquist said. He said the low number of pheasant hunters means a dropoff in economic development, since opening weekend used to mean hotels with no vacancies and overflow crowds in cafes in many Iowa towns.

> Pheasants Forever Woodbury County Chapter official Scott Rustwick of Sioux City said the factor is simple: If hunters go out and don’t find birds, they tire of the hunt.

> Linquist is within $15,000 of meeting his goal of raising $195,000 — $65,000 for each of three years — to hire and pay the roughly $30,000 salary for a Farm Bill biologist and to outfit an office in Le Mars.

> Linquist asked the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors for $5,000 for each of the next three years to help the local Pheasants Forever chapter hire a so-called Farm Bill biologist to serve Woodbury, Plymouth, Cherokee and Sioux counties. The biologist would work with rural landowners toward the goal of setting aside acres for conservation, which would reduce farmland erosion and create habitat for pheasants.

> Linquist said the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors has contributed $10,000 and that water and soil conservation districts and Pheasants Forever chapters in Plymouth, Sioux and Woodbury counties have put in money as well.

> In response to his funding request, board Chairman Mark Monson of Sergeant Bluff said the topic wasn’t on the meeting agenda as an action item. Monson said the supervisors will decide soon but cautioned the county is in financial straits and already allots money for natural resource enhancement.


Then you have this guy, in the Des Moines Register, whose pheasant “desert” predictions seem self-serving:

> “The native population is like nil around here,” said Dan Mullin, who runs Iowa’s second-oldest shooting preserve, the Arrowhead Hunting Club near Goose Lake…. “If somebody does let you hunt anymore on private ground, that means they’ve let everybody on and there’s nothing there.

> “[It’s] like the Mojave Desert out there. And we’re not going to get birds back.”

> Des Moines Register research of Iowa DNR records shows that 51,825 pheasants were harvested by hunters on preserves in 2010, or roughly 18 percent of the total taken statewide. In 2006, for comparison, the percentage of birds harvested on preserves was 6.6 percent.

> The appeal of game preserves to some hunters: If you want to spend a day chasing pheasants, you may be best served to go somewhere where you’re guaranteed to see some.

Work on the Habitat!

First of all, Iowa has a bunch of pheasants. Sure the weather has hurt, but it’s still Iowa. This season the projected harvest is 150,000 to 200,000 – short of the historic 1 mil, but still a lot, much more than most states. Not the Mojave Desert for sure.

Here’s a story about a MN hunter who went to IA, and shot his limit the first day.

Second, if you want a guarantee, you’re not a hunter.

Third, we’re not biologists, but we do know a thing or two about making a buck. And in business it’s a good idea to get your operation humming when the economy is down so that when it eventually turns around, you’re able to take fullest advantage of that. So seems to us that Linquist of Pheasants Forever has it right: Habitat. Meaning if you work on the habitat now, then when the weather gets more favorable for pheasants – which it will – the population will explode instead of crawl back up.

We think, anyway, since we’re not biologists…though one thing’s for sure: Good habitat will always hold birds.


Category: 2011, Forecasts/counts, IA, MN, Pheasants, Pheasants Forever

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  1. lucas says:

    we limited out opening morning of 2010 with 5 guys in an hour and 15 minutes. this year we hunted all day with 7 guys and got 8. due to a lack of communication, we weren’t able to hunt one of our normal spots on opening morning. we talked to the guys that did hunt it(amateurs) who said they flushed over 50 birds(probably the rest of our limit). oh well, still a good day in Iowa!

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