Dry conditions hurt pheasant hunt; grouse numbers down

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 16, 2012 - 7:14 PM

"Dogs had trouble finding scent" over the opening weekend.

Minnesota pheasant hunters who dreamed of shooting limits opening weekend because of the record-early crop harvest likely were disappointed.

"It was so dry, dogs had trouble finding scent, and the wind didn't help,'' said Nicole Davros, Department of Natural Resources pheasant biologist.

"In some areas, people had pretty good success -- definitely better than last year -- but others reported only fair success,'' she said.

According to conservation officers, hunters did well near Windom, but they averaged less than a bird per hunter near Willmar. Tough hunting was reported near Fairmont and Mankato. Near Marshall, hunters averaged one bird for every three hunters. Many hunters were reported near Slayton, but success was "less than fair.''

Hunting was poor near Wheaton, and near Morris, hunters bagged less than one bird for every two hunters.

Meanwhile, as of Monday, 90 percent of the corn has been harvested.

Grouse season slumps

What started out as a promising ruffed grouse season has fizzled a bit, and it's now clear that bird numbers are, indeed, down.

About 100 hunters at the Ruffed Grouse Society's annual national hunt near Grand Rapids last weekend shot 184 birds, a drop of 14 percent from 2011 and 34 percent from 2010.

There was good news: The ratio of immature-to-adult females was 7.22, or about 15 percent above the long-term average, which indicates good reproduction last spring.

And the hunt's woodcock harvest of 415 was the highest since bag limits were reduced from five to three in 1997.

Did you know?

• Both state duck and pheasant stamp sales are up a tad from last year. So far, the DNR has sold 67,340 pheasant stamps, about 600 more than this time last year, and 82,443 duck stamps, up about 440. The agency also has sold 265,000 small game licenses, around 2,000 more than at this time last year.

• The black bear season closed Sunday, and the preliminary harvest was 2,563, up from 2,131 last year.

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