Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

October 25, 1999

Minnesota pheasant hunting off to fast start

The birds are back and hunting throughout much of Minnesota's pheasant range was good to excellent on the opening weekend of the season.

Minnesota's 1999 pheasant hunting season opened Oct. 16, and although conditions were very dry and winds high at times, hunters across the state's prime pheasant areas were greeted by solid bird numbers and plenty of opportunities to bag a rooster.

In southwestern Minnesota, where I spent the opening weekend, fields and public hunting areas were filled with birds and hunters.

Two-bird limits were common and a 10-bird limit for five of us was reached by the early afternoon.

Near Windom, much of the corn was off, winds were calm, the sky clear, and conditions for walking cover behind a bird dog were super.

In other parts of the pheasant range, in areas like Ortonville and Madison, birds were there, but conditions for hunting were not as good.

Reports from the area stated high winds and very dry conditions hampered hunting success. One hunter said the wind was strong enough to make it tough for a dog to put a bird up and even tougher for a hunter to hit a rooster.

On a mid-week jaunt to the Ortonville area, Angus and I found excellent bird numbers and although conditions were dry and windy, we put up about 50 birds and bagged two roosters in a few hours of hunting.

As far as the rest of season goes, hunting should be excellent.

The corn harvest in southern Minnesota was just about complete by the opener, making hunting the first weekend kind of a boom.

In other parts of the range, including the Ortonville area, there is still a lot of corn in the fields, which is a good sign for mid- to late-season pheasant hunting.

Locally, hunters reported better than average bird numbers, and those finding good cover and pockets of birds had excellent hunting. Several reports from the area also stated that hunting pressure was much greater, with many hunters in the field, than it has been in quite a few years.

From my experience, and looking back in my outdoor journal, Minnesota's 1999 pheasant opener was the best I have experienced since the early '80s.

The birds, especially in areas of excellent cover, are benefiting from two consecutive mild winters, and hunting throughout the season should be good, and definitely better than it has been in several years.

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