Minnesota’s pheasants and pheasant hunters are hitting rock bottom. Just 62,000 pheasant hunters went afield last fall, and they bagged only 169,000 roosters. That’s the fewest hunters and lowest harvest in 27 years. Hunter numbers declined 19 percent and the harvest was down 32 percent from 2012.
Hunters likely were responding to a loss of habitat, poor nesting weather and a corresponding large drop in the ringneck population in recent years. Last year, the pheasant population fell 29 percent.
“It’s likely the result of people seeing poor reports … and they just don’t bother buying a license,’’ said Lou Cornicelli, Department of Natural Resources wildlife research manager.
The number of other small game hunters also was down, according to the DNR’s annual small game survey, released Monday:
• An estimated 77,900 people hunted ducks, a decrease of 5 percent from 2012. They harvested 782,800 ducks, nearly the same as last year.
• An estimated 81,100 people hunted ruffed grouse, a decrease of 11 percent from 2012. They killed 288,000 grouse, a 16 percent decline from 2012.
• Small game license sales fell by about 5,500, to 258,581.
• The Big Ten Network’s first weekend of volleyball coverage will feature the Gophers-Louisville match Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion. ESPN will carry the Gophers’ Sept. 27 home match against Penn State, on ESPN3.
• Leigh Klasse shot a final-round 74 and won the Minnesota Senior Women’Amateur championship by two strokes over Claudia Pilot in Menahga, Minn.