The North Dakota Game and Fish Department had good news for pheasant hunters today when it announced that populations and brood production this spring were much improved from last year.
That means hunters can expect to encounter more birds in the field when the state’s pheasant season opens Oct. 13.
In a news release, Stan Kohn, the department’s go-to guy on pheasants, said the birds are up 59 percent from last year, with brood counts up 65 percent and the average brood size up 16 percent.
Kohn attributed the rebound to a mild winter and near-perfect spring weather that created ideal conditions for production. Still, there’s a caveat to the outlook, he said.
“The increase in numbers from last year is encouraging, but hunters are cautioned that the landscape has changed since last fall,” Kohn said. “A great deal of habitat has been either hayed or converted to cropland as Conservation Reserve Program acres continue to diminish.”
Here’s a look at the results by survey area:
Southwestern North Dakota: Brood counts in the state’s best pheasant range were up 37 percent and bird numbers were up 30 percent, at 19 broods and 168 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was 6.5
Southeast: Bird numbers were up 134 percent from last year, and brood counts rose 144 percent to nine broods and 88 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was 6.6.
Northwest: Pheasants were up 258 percent, with brood counts 268 percent higher than last year. The survey tallied nine broods and 79 birds per 100 miles, and the average brood size was 6.3.
Northeast: Never a pheasant hotbed, the northeast saw 1.5 broods and 12 birds per 100 miles, with bird numbers up 155 percent and brood counts 275 percent higher than last year. The average brood size was 4.9.
Game and Fish personnel sample 255 runs along 106 brood routes across the state to conduct the annual survey.