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Revive the Thanksgiving pheasant hunting tradition this year

  • 11/22/2022 11:34:00 AM
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Iowa’s 2022 pheasant season has produced some of the best hunting in the past decade and peak hunting may be just starting.

“The formula has come together for good hunting over the Thanksgiving holiday – our bird numbers are up, the crop harvest is done and the recent fall temperature has been cooler than normal,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “With our annual pheasant harvest predicted to be around 400,000 roosters, now is the time to get into the field.”

Pheasant hunting over Thanksgiving was nearly as common as having turkey for the holiday meal. With Iowa’s pheasant population running above its 10-year average, Bogenschutz said now would be a good time to restart the family pheasant hunting tradition.

Mark Johnson, 53, from Marshalltown, has spent many Thanksgivings hunting with his father and brother on the family farm in eastern Cherokee County.

“We would go hunting in the morning and know at the end of the day we’d have a good meal waiting for us when we got back,” said Johnson who is looking forward to being in the field again Thursday with his brother Mike and father Robert. “I think it’s going to be really good hunting, as good as it’s been in a while.”

The Johnsons will be trailing Mike’s black lab through the terraces, fence lines and riparian habitat on the 800-acre farm.

“Over the years, the Thanksgiving Day hunt has always been more about the connection with family and less about the hunt itself,” Johnson said.