Reports from Saturday’s Minnesota pheasant opener indicate hunting generally was tough, because of vast amounts of unharvested corn and soybeans remaining in farmers’ fields.
At Gov. Mark Dayton’s opener in Luverne, 130 hunters went afield Saturday, divided into 17 groups, and by noon had claimed 26 birds.
Meanwhile, conservation officer (CO) Matt Loftness of Marshall found no shortage of hunters Saturday but said in his report that standing crops and grasslands flooded by recent rains “made things challenging.’’
Near Litchfield, CO Nicholas Klehr reported the opener was busy in his area. Most uplanders, Klehr said, saw pheasants “and a few were able to bag a rooster or two.’’
Near Jackson, CO Mike Gruhlke said in his weekly report the opener was “busy initially and then trailed off.’’ Sunday, Gruhlke said, was cooler, with fewer hunters. Most harvested birds Gruhlke checked were young.
Grouse kill down again
Last Thursday and Friday’s 37th National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt headquartered in Grand Rapids and sponsored by the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) and the American Woodcock Society showed decreases in ruffed grouse and woodcock harvests compared to last year. That’s discouraging, because last year’s grouse kill at the same event was the lowest on record.
In all, 96 grouse were felled by 96 hunters: 39 the first day, 57 the second.
The first day kill was 37 percent lower than last year’s (a caveat: snow and ice made hunting difficult), while the second-day harvest was off 8 percent. The total kill included 47 percent adult birds, 53 percent juveniles, 43 percent females and 57 percent males. The number of immature birds divided by the number of mature females in the harvest — called the recruitment ratio — was 2.72, a drop from 3.33 in 2017 and the hunt’s lowest ever.
Meanwhile, 291 woodcock fell to hunters’ guns, a reduction of about 13 percent from 2017. The woodcock recruitment ratio was 2.76, a jump from 0.51 last year.
“The indication of poor grouse recruitment in recent years is a topic of concern,’’ RGS President Ben Jones said. “We look forward to engaging with our valued agency and university partners to ensure this is given appropriate attention.”