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While the weather didn’t fully cooperate, at least the pheasants did. Iowa’s opening weekend of pheasant hunting began wet and ended with mostly satisfied hunters.
“Comparing hunter numbers to the past 5-8 years, this opening weekend had a much higher participation rate that I observed,” said Ben Bergman, conservation officer in Cerro Gordo County.
Hunter success was also better.
Bergman encountered a group of hunters along the Cerro Gordo – Hancock border who brought along their 10 year old and 15 year old sons. “It was good seeing them pass along the hunting experience to the next generation,” he said.
In Sac County, the morning rain ended earlier and hunters were on birds early.
A group of seven hunters had seven roosters in the bag within 45 minutes of the season opening hunting on a restored prairie on the Burrows Pond Complex.
“I would guess we saw around 40 pheasants on that 80-acre tract, maybe more,” said Pete Hildreth, supervisor for the southwest wildlife district for the DNR.
Hildreth said his group harvested 14 birds on Saturday and then four of them hunted a nearby area on Sunday and harvested 11 birds.
Hunters in Wright County, Dallas County and Louisa County had similar stories – encountered some rain and bagged some roosters.
But not every county had success.
In Hardin County, there was enough corn and beans still waiting to be harvested that made finding birds a little more difficult.
“Sunday was better for number of hunters and bird harvest,” said Joli Vollers, conservation officer for Hardin and Hamilton counties. “As the season progresses and more crops come out, I am looking forward to seeing more hunters bag more birds.”