The turkey gets all the attention during the Thanksgiving holiday, but another bird is creeping back into the spotlight this year. Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, Todd Bogenschutz, says after several years with their population being down, pheasants are making a comeback. “One of the traditions in Iowa was doing the pheasant hunt before the Thanksgiving meal and with improved bird numbers this year we’ve been getting pretty positive reports and I expect they’ll probably be a few more folks bringing back that tradition,” Bogenschutz says.
The pheasant season opened October 25th, and while the first few weekends are generally some of the best hunting, he says several factors have combined to make the prospects better for hunting now. “Our bird numbers were improved and on top of that we kind of had the late crop harvest, so it was a little challenging the opening week and week after there,” Bogenschutz says. “People had good success, but the birds figured out those crops were there, and most of those crops are gone now and that’s providing a few more birds that weren’t available to hunters.”
He says the latest snowfall also is a benefit to hunters. “Birds can make use of road ditches or even crop fields before we had snow and blend in pretty well, but now when things turn white the birds aren’t so comfortable just being out there in the open. That helps hunters, they can concentrate on the good areas of habitat, and that’s probably where the birds will move to as well,” Bogenschutz explains. A final count on the pheasant harvest won’t come until March, but Bogenschutz likes what he’s heard form hunters thus far.
“It’s just anecdotal reports, but they have all been positive. Folks are really pleasantly surprised with the bird numbers and the success they have been having,” Bogenschutz says. “I think that’s going to lead to probably our best bird harvest that we’ve had in a number of years.” Hunting hours for the pheasant season are 8 a-m until 4:30 p-m each day. The daily limit is three rooster pheasants. The season closes on January 10th.