Iowa's recent roadside pheasant counts varied statewide, but overall numbers increased 20 percent over last year.
Northwest and central Iowa hunters should see more birds this year and east central Iowa traditionally has good pheasant densities, said Todd Bogenschutz, wildlife biologist at the DNR's Boone research station. The best pheasant hunting should be in the area between Iowa City, Spirit Lake and Des Moines.
Southern and western Iowa showed improved pheasant numbers, but because of a series of wet springs in the past, the numbers are generally still low.
Roadside counts were down east of a line running from Mason City to Ottumwa because of above normal spring rainfall. The northeast portion of Iowa east of U.S. Highway 63 and north of U.S. Highway 30 will definitely see a decrease in the number of pheasants, he said. The roadside counts went from 40 birds per route last year to 16 this year. This is the second year in a row the area had above normal spring rainfall.
Based on the roadside counts, Bogenschutz said an estimated 1 million pheasants will be harvested in Iowa this year.
Even though the 2000 pheasant counts were 20 percent higher, the numbers are still 13 percent below the 10-year average and 25 percent below the long-term average.
Quail, Partridge and Rabbit
"We did show some increases statewide in quail, but the counts were down significantly in southeast Iowa," Bogenschutz said, adding that quail are spreading to marginal ground in central Iowa.
Hungarian partridge counts were basically unchanged. The partridge are best suited to the prairie pothole regions of northwest, north central and central Iowa.
"Wet weather in June must have had an impact on their nesting because we did not see an increase in their numbers," he said.
Rabbit counts were basically unchanged. Generally, the southern half and east central Iowa have the best rabbit densities because those areas have the best brush cover.
"South central will be the place to go for rabbit hunters," he said.
For more information, contact Bogenschutz at 515-432-2823.
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