Hunters are home, the dogs are resting and Iowa’s opening weekend of pheasant season is in the rearview mirror. Reports from across the state varied from excellent up north to good in central and southwest Iowa, with the consensus that hunting will continue to improve once all the corn is harvested.
According to reports, hunters turned out in good numbers, filling parking lots and field access lanes.
“It’s the best bird numbers we’ve had since I’ve been in east-central Iowa. I’m still seeing hunters out today,” said Curt Kemmerer, wildlife biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Maquoketa Unit.
“Lots of hunters and good number of birds in central Iowa – a great opener,” said Captain Matt Bruner, supervisor for the Iowa DNR’s Law Enforcement Bureau for north-central Iowa.
“I counted 14 cars at one 475-acre area in north Iowa. The guys I talked to had seen birds, but also made comments about many more people than in the past,” said TJ Herrick, wildlife biologist for the Iowa DNR’s Clear Lake Unit.
“Lots of hunters out on Saturday,” said Matt Dollison, wildlife biologist for the Iowa DNR’s Nishnabotna Unit. “Bird numbers were similar to last year. Warm weather and standing corn made hunting a little difficult.”
Nonresident hunters were plentiful as well, with hunters from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska and Ohio making up to one third of the cars in north Iowa parking lots.
Those field reports mirrored what the annual August roadside survey found.
“Our bird numbers are similar to last year so that should make some folks pretty happy,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist with the Iowa DNR. “I think we’re set up for a good hunting year for pheasants, especially in northwest, west central and north central regions. Central too. Quail is also looking good in southwest and south-central Iowa.”
Iowa’s pheasant season runs through Jan. 10, 2023.