The numbers are in, and North Dakota pheasant and brood counts are down.
In a news release, R.J. Gross, upland game management biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said results from roadside surveys in late July and August show total pheasants observed per 100 miles are down 61 percent from last year.
In addition, brood observations were down 63 percent, while the average brood size was down 19 percent. The final summary is based on 279 survey runs made along 103 brood routes across North Dakota.
The numbers come as no surprise, given spring crowing counts that were down from last year and extreme drought conditions that limited production across pheasant country.
“Brood data suggests very poor production this spring when compared to 2016, which results in less young birds added to the fall population,” Gross said. “The majority of the state was in extreme drought conditions during critical times for pheasant chicks. This resulted in poor nesting/brood habitat and more than likely a less than ideal insect hatch.”
Here’s the rest of the news release from Game and Fish:
- Statistics from southwestern North Dakota indicate total pheasants were down 59 percent and broods observed down 60 percent from 2016. Observers counted eight broods and 68 birds per 100 survey miles. The average brood size was 4.3.
- Results from the southeast show birds are down 60 percent from last year, and the number of broods down 70 percent. Observers counted two broods and 24 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was 4.7.
- Statistics from the northwest indicated pheasants are down 72 percent from last year, with broods are down 76 percent. Observers recorded three broods and 24 birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 5.2.
- The northeast district, generally containing secondary pheasant habitat, with much of it lacking good winter cover, showed one brood and six birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 3.5. Number of birds observed was down 54 percent, and the number of broods recorded was down 63 percent.
North Dakota’s regular pheasant season opens Oct. 7 and continues through Jan. 7. The two-day youth pheasant hunting weekend, when legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger can hunt statewide, is set for Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.