Conditions appear good for pheasant hunting prospects in many North American states. (Photo by: Steve Oehlenschlager/Shutterstock.com)
Pheasant Hunting Season Forecast
The ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus Colchicus) is not a game bird native to North America like the ruffed grouse, prairie chicken, or the various species of quail. Native to Asia, ring-necked pheasants were first introduced to the United States in Oregon in 1881, but unlike most exotic species that die quickly or spread so quickly they become a nuisance, the pheasant The ring – necked bird prospered and became a favorite game bird for many hunters .
The challenge of hunting ring-necked pheasants still appeals to many hunting dog owners today, especially in perennial pheasant hot spots where the birds typically thrive year after year. Sure, there are almost 20 states where hunters can go out and chase this avian immigrant, but you can limit the number to eight or ten that offer excellent hunting opportunities year after year.
For our case, though, we’re going to look at three big states you might consider adding to your search list this fall. They all have lots of pheasants, lots of cover (an essential), and lots of crops to provide the pheasants with the protein-rich food they need to thrive.
Kansas Pheasant Hunting
In Kansas, as in other pheasant states, two important factors affect the availability of birds to hunt in the fall: the number of breeding adults in the spring and the reproductive success of the breeding population during the breeding season. Unfortunately for many states, including Kansas, an excessively dry year has led to nesting conditions or success not being as high as in many previous years. But a bad season in Kansas is often better than a good year in many other places.
Consequently, the Sunflower State will still provide some very good hunting this year, especially for hunters willing to do some legwork, according to the state’s 2022 Kansas Highland Bird Forecast. “Just be aware that hunters are likely to encounter challenging conditions and should be prepared to work for the birds this season,” the forecast states.
The main reason for the somewhat lower population than in recent years is the intense drought that has affected Kansas and some other pheasant-producing states. While pheasant numbers have declined in most regions of the state based on crow surveys, some areas experienced good hatching. “In parts of the North Central Smoky Hills region, spring precipitation was sufficient in select areas to support an initial strong nesting attempt that resulted in an overall increase for the region,” the report states. “However, this was not widespread and was not enough to offset losses in other regions.”
Pheasant season in the Sunflower State is scheduled for November 12 through January 31. A special youth season takes place on November 5 and 6 and allows hunters ages 17 and under to start hunting pheasants with a head start, provided they are accompanied by a non-hunter adult who is 18 years of age or older. The daily bag limit is four cocks and the possession limit is four times the daily bag limit (two times the daily youth bag limit during the junior season). A nonresident Kansas hunting license costs $97.50.
Kansas Walk In Hunting Areas provide millions of acres of land for hunters and many non-residents rely heavily on them. All information about those areas is available on the interactive map provided by Kansas Parks and Wildlife.
Pheasant Hunting in South Dakota
South Dakota has long been one of the top pheasant hunting states in the country, and as a kid, a trip this far north was just a dream I never got to experience. Fortunately for hunters heading to this pheasant hotspot this year, South Dakota hasn’t experienced drought to the extent that Kansas has.
“Spring and summer rains have brought a respite from the 2021 drought, which is great news for both habitat conditions and upland game bird production,” according to the Upland Outlook. published by South Dakota Game, Fish, & Parks. “Hunters can expect to find more lush meadows and plenty of birds to enjoy this season!”
Apparently all the stars have aligned for a great pheasant hunt, the report says, meaning itinerant hunters might want to set their sights on the Mount Rushmore estate. “Pheasant survival over winter was probably excellent, and that means there will be more nesting hens in the spring,” the report says. “We expect increased survival of pheasant hatchlings due to habitat cover due to adequate early summer moisture. Overall, things are shaping up for another great pheasant hunting season this fall in South Dakota.”
The South Dakota pheasant season for non-residents runs from October 15 to January 31. A special season for resident hunters runs from October 8-10, and the junior season runs from September 24-October 2. The limit is three bucks per day and the possession limit is 15. A non-resident small game license is required to hunt pheasants in South Dakota. It costs $121 and is good for two five-day terms.
Those who want more information on where to hunt pheasants in South Dakota can find a lot of valuable information on the agency’s Hunting Areas page on its website.
Iowa Pheasant Hunting
Iowa is another perennial pheasant hotspot that has largely avoided the problems associated with early drought in many more southern states. Consequently, those planning a ringneck hunt this fall should consider The Hawkeye State.
“Results from the 2022 Iowa Pheasant Population Survey are available and the results were nearly identical to 2021, when hunters harvested the most roosters in more than a decade,” the Iowa Department of Natural Resources reported. Iowa in a press release from late August.
During this year’s pheasant census, the Northwest, West Midwest, and North Midwest regions had the highest bird counts. Based on those results, wildlife managers expect a count of 300,000 to 400,000 roosters will be taken by 2022.
“The number of birds caught is highly dependent on the number of hunters in the field, and the last two years saw the most pheasant hunters recorded since 2009, and that translated into our increase in numbers,” Todd said. Bogenschutz, an Iowa DNR highland wildlife research biologist. “The birds are there, so the totals will depend on how many hunters come back.”
Iowa pheasant season runs from October 29 to January 10. A special season for young people runs on October 22 and 23. The daily bag limit is three bucks with a possession limit of 12 birds. A non-resident hunting/habitat license, which is required to hunt upland birds, costs $144. The Iowa DNR offers a very informative interactive hunter map that can go a long way in helping first-time visitors to the state plan a productive trip.