Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

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

November 10, 1997

Iowa pheasants

The switch grass we were hunting in was bent and whirling from the 20 to 30 mile-per-hour winds.

The dog was birdy and his tail was going like crazy. Soon 10 to 15 birds erupted from the cover. One rooster down, a latecomer down, and eight other roosters still in the air and heading for heavier cover.

That was the scene on Iowa's second weekend of pheasant hunting. Myself, a friend, and my black lab Tucker had made our way down to north-central Iowa for a couple of days of hunting, and aside from the weather, the hunting was excellent.

We had bagged our limit of birds on a day's hunt the weekend before, and on this trip, limits were also found.

Reports on early season pheasant hunting from across northern Iowa have all said hunting has been excellent. With almost all the crops off the fields, hunters have had an early season boom.

Limits in an hour's worth of hunting on the opening weekend were common, and although hunting was slightly slower on the second weekend, limits were still common.

One bird chaser stated, "With all the crops off the fields, opening weekend was like walking into a chicken coop. But, with the hunting that good, and that many birds being harvested early, the late season hunting could be very dismal."

That hunter is probably right. Much of Iowa isn't like South Dakota or western Minnesota with large expanses of cover and huge fields of CRP.

Iowa is more like "hunt this ditch, that fence line, or that small public area." When all the crops are off the fields on opening day, a huge chunk of the birds get taken early and hunting the rest of the season can get tough.

In fact, Iowa's early season hunting in many areas was so good that hunting late in the year could be very tough.

In my opinion, the hunting on many of northern Iowa's public hunting areas has already slowed up tremendously and could be very poor until very late in the year when birds are in need of heavy cover.

Hunting private land will be better, but absolutely nothing like the early season hunting has been.

All in all, if you're a local pheasant hunter heading down to northern Iowa to find a few birds, the mid to late season hunting will be much tougher than you probably expected. Conditions were just too good on the opening weekend and a mass of hunters in-state and out harvested a large portion of roosters.

Iowa's daily limit on pheasants is three roosters and the possession limit is 12.

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