This will be another great year to plan a Midwestern bird hunt. Although pheasant are the main attraction, other game birds include quail, sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens. Last year saw a good recovery of pheasant populations from the 2012-2013 drought in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Minnesota. Predictions for 2016 indicate sustained or slightly decreased populations – in other words, good hunting again this season. Following are some of the state forecasts from Pheasants Forever.
South Dakota: Here in the pheasant Mecca of America, there will be plenty of birds, although a 20 percent decrease compared to last year’s superlative numbers, which were 42 percent over 2014. Nebraska: A repeat of last year’s high populations of ringnecks, quail and other upland birds, due to good overwinter survival rates and excellent spring breeding conditions. Kansas: As good as last year, which was 51 percent improved over 2014. Pheasant numbers for 2016 are better than the 10-year and 20-year averages. Minnesota: Better hunting than even last season, which was 33 percent improved over 2014. Ringneck numbers are up 29 percent statewide and much higher in certain areas.
Midwestern pheasant seasons usually begin in mid-October or soon after and continue through December. For more information go to www.pheasantsforever.org. PF is the parent organization for Quail Forever, which is making impressive habitat improvements in Tennessee. Consider joining their 140,000 wildlife conservationists.