Minnesota farmers finally have the bulk of their crops harvested, which in most instances would aid late-season pheasant hunters.
But the winterlike weather with up to a foot of snow that’s predicted for today across much of the state’s pheasant range might put the brakes on a ringneck season that otherwise would be shifting into high gear.
According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Minnesota farmers had about five suitable days for field work last week. Harvested crops were reported wetter than normal for this time of year, and topsoil moisture was said to be 64% adequate and 35% surplus.
Fully 86% of the state’s corn has been harvested, which is 15 days behind average, and 98% of soybeans have been harvested, an amount about three weeks behind normal.
August pheasant roadside counts showed a 17% dip from a year ago. But DNR researchers believe many hens that lost nests because of heavy early summer rains re-nested successfully, and that more birds are on the state’s landscape than the counts suggested.
Many uplanders who have been afield this fall confirm sightings of very young birds.
Minnesota pheasant hunting extends through Jan. 1. The daily limit rises from two roosters to three Dec. 1.
Deer harvest down
Minnesota’s firearms deer harvest remains below last year’s at this time, reports Barbara Keller, Department of Natural Resources big game program leader.
The firearms “A’’ season whitetail harvest to date is 137,172, compared to a total kill of 148,141 for that season a year ago. Total deer license sales as of Monday, meanwhile, were 427,718, down from 436,483 at this time in 2018.
Fewer S.D. hunters
As did Minnesota, South Dakota reported a 17% falloff of pheasant numbers this year compared to 2018. As a result, fewer nonresident hunters are visiting what is fairly described as the Pheasant Capital of the World.
As of Nov. 4, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks sold 43,978 nonresident small game licenses, down more than 3,000 from 2018 total small-game license sales of 47,028. The difference has resulted in a nearly $370,000 revenue loss to the state.
The 43,978 licenses sold so far this year is more than 15,000 fewer than the total number of nonresident small game licenses sold in 2015.