DNR: Higher pheasant numbers could mean best hunting in a decade

    State biologists report increasing numbers of pheasants in Iowa. (Photo courtesy of Iowa Department of Natural Resources)

    Iowa biologists found more pheasants during their annual survey this year compared to last year, and predicted hunters may have their best season in a decade.

    The annual roadside survey by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources found a average of 20 pheasants per 30-mile route, up from 17 last year.

    Six of the nine survey regions found more than 20 pheasants per route, the most since 2007, DNR reported.

    “Pheasant hunters should expect significantly better pheasant numbers in 2020,” Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist said in a news release. “Pheasant hunting this fall could be some of the best the state has seen in a decade.”

    Bogenschutz said a mild winter helped, as did low snowfall totals. A dry spring helped nesting.

    The southeast region led the way with a 163% increase in the survey count, and the northeast section was next with a gain of 115%. The east-central region gained 55%.

    Due to the drought, the western and central zones had lower numbers, DNR reported.

    Bogenschutz estimated hunters will bag 250,000 to 300,000 birds, a strong number in recent years but far below the historic highs of more than 1 million.

    Perry Beeman
    Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.