Minnesota pheasant hunters won't know for a couple of weeks the outlook for this fall's pheasant season. That's when the results from the DNR's August roadside bird count will be announced.
But South Dakota – where many Minnesotans hunt -- released its roadside survey today, and the news was good.
Officials counted an average of 6.32 pheasants per mile, the fourth highest in the past 45 years. Still, the numbers were down 26 percent from last year, which was one of the highest on record. The bottom line: Hunting likely will be very good, but not as good as last year.
Officials said the decline was likely due to weather woes. Heavy rains and below-normal temperatures occurred during the peak pheasant hatch, hurting chick survival. Heavy rain also might have contributed to loss of nests.
The loss of lands enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program also likely has hurt the pheasant population..
Meanwhile, the survey showed the total number of roosters counted was down 14 percent, and average brood size decreased by 5 percent.
South Dakota's regular pheasant season opens Oct. 17 and runs through Jan. 3. The full report can be seen at www.sdgfp.info/Wildlife/Hunting/Pheasant/Outlook.htm.