Home Forums Hunting Upland Game Pheasant Season

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  • AvatarSADIEHAWKINS
    Participant
    Post count: 198

    This is my two cents. I think the road side survey was off quite a bit. now I’m only talking about what I saw as compared to the last 4 or 5 years. I was walking on average around 3 miles for each rooster bagged and the end of year was 4 to 5 miles. I hunted 3 to 4 times a week and tried to walk 3 to 5 miles. it seemed to be feast or phantom also. I would see a bunch or not see any. Last 2 yrs. i would shoot around 40 birds this year maybe 25. But last year I had two runs of missing 7 or 8 birds in a row also. I only hunt public lands in winnebago county. have not seen one covey of partridge which the Dnr said were down. Where as last year I shot 4 or 5. i think the pheasants were actually down the same as partridge. Was just curious what everybody else opinion was.

    AvatarTrapCyclone
    Participant
    Post count: 2552

    I don’t have enough information to make a good year-to-year comparison, but the numbers definitely have not been great for me in central Iowa (i.e., in the vicinity of I-80 in Des Moines to Hwy 30 in Ames). While I don’t have a good guess on the mileage covered, for the time spent hunting with my GSP we probably flushed one hen for every hour of walking! So if we hunted for 4-5 hours then it would be 4-5 hens flushed. If I was lucky I might see one rooster in the mix. I note these were solo hunts with my dog rather than with a group, the latter of which might have covered more ground and yielded better results. Some of the areas I hunted were rather larger and I wasn’t quite as methodical with my strategy so there probably were a good number of runners. For me, the bottom line is that it was really tough hunting. Working with my dog makes it a bit more enjoyable, but it certainly is not fun seeing so few roosters and going home empty handed.

    Avatarrobert1976
    Participant
    Post count: 410

    I hunt public ground in Kossuth county and I don’t think the numbers were anywhere near as good as last year. Definitely had to do a lot more walking this year to get my birds, last year I couldn’t go out and not shoot my limit. I hope to get a couple more this weekend to finish out the season but I’m not going to get my hopes up too much.

    Avatarwebspec_admin
    Keymaster
    Post count: 18880

    I agree numbers in general seemed down compared to last year. I hunted two different weekends early in the season in north-central Iowa. The remainder of the season I hunted in central Iowa. I did not go back to north-central Iowa because the bird numbers were not as good as what I was encountering in the areas I hunt around home. I hunted maybe four weekends in north-central Iowa last year at points throughout the year and saw lots more birds each outing throughout the season.

    Central Iowa seemed down in general too but I saw a nice little bump in late season bird numbers that made me a little more optimistic.

    I also encountered significantly more pressure everywhere I hunted throughout the entire year. The spot I started on opening morning had three times as many vehicles this opener compared to last and at least that many more people. This continued throughout the year. I ran into numerous out of staters in north central Iowa, mostly from Minnesota, but I saw plates from Wisconsin, Michigan, Virginia, and Ohio as well.

    Again, all of this was on public land. Private land may have been different.

    AvatarTrapCyclone
    Participant
    Post count: 2552

    Quote by: IsThisHeaven?

    I also encountered significantly more pressure everywhere I hunted throughout the entire year. The spot I started on opening morning had three times as many vehicles this opener compared to last and at least that many more people. This continued throughout the year. I ran into numerous out of staters in north central Iowa, mostly from Minnesota, but I saw plates from Wisconsin, Michigan, Virginia, and Ohio as well.

    This was my observation as well. There seemed to be more people out pheasant hunting than usual and I even saw a plate from Louisiana. I wonder why that has been the case as the bird numbers are still pretty low in my opinion.

    Avatarspeng5
    Participant
    Post count: 2928

    Quote by: TrapCyclone

    Quote by: IsThisHeaven?

    I also encountered significantly more pressure everywhere I hunted throughout the entire year. The spot I started on opening morning had three times as many vehicles this opener compared to last and at least that many more people. This continued throughout the year. I ran into numerous out of staters in north central Iowa, mostly from Minnesota, but I saw plates from Wisconsin, Michigan, Virginia, and Ohio as well.

    This was my observation as well. There seemed to be more people out pheasant hunting than usual and I even saw a plate from Louisiana. I wonder why that has been the case as the bird numbers are still pretty low in my opinion.

    A roadside count slightly higher than years before (or several years of even a marginal increase) will bring this about every time. A count significantly (and ACCURATELY) higher can handle the increase in pressure, but when we get counts higher than normal it A) may not be entirely accurate, and B ) gets folks dusting off the pheasant gun that’s sat in the safe for a couple years, a sudden uptick in pressure. Pheasant average count per route statewide nearly quadrupled according to the roadside counts from 2011 to 2015 from 6.2 per route to 23.2 per route. I would bet a significant increase in pressure came of this, which carried into this year, even though 2016 finally showed a decrease.

    And of course there is the constant factor that the counts may not be (more like probably aren’t) that accurate.

    Avatarpheasant1
    Participant
    Post count: 1502

    I hunt ALOT! I hunt in groups, by myself, pairs, you name it. The bird numbers are pretty much the same. I can tell you this much. I got buddies who have good dogs and I have buddies who have GREAT dogs, it makes a difference. Also, HOW QUIET you are and if you use blockers. In the middle of the season we used more blockers and the hunting success didn’t drop off one bit. Rotate what areas you hit and when. If you hunt someplace in the morning twice and see nothing, hunt it once in the afternoon. I have seen bigger groups of birds in the couple cold snaps that we have had over last year. I even hunted a few spots in NE iowa and shot birds. My primary territory is central to NC Iowa but the further north you get say above Wright county the pressure doubles and birds are flighty.

    AvatarTrapCyclone
    Participant
    Post count: 2552

    Quote by: pheasant1

    Also, HOW QUIET you are.

    What exactly do you mean by “how quiet you are”? I think the dog(s) are going to make noise no matter what and I am not sure how it is possible to be very quiet when trying to walk through crunchy snow and bust through thick cattails and/or brush. I assume you mean try to make less noise on an approach so that the birds don’t flush so far away?

    Avatarfastfreddy
    Participant
    Post count: 29

    Pheasant1 nailed it! BE QUIET! Don’t shout and yell at your dog….don’t whistle at your dog so loud someone could here you a 1/2 mile away….Don’t talk to your buddy while walking 20 yds apart etc… These birds are in survival mode right now and the slightest sounds will send them running/flying into the next county. Blockers need to swing wide and approach there post quietly and not talk at all. When done correctly you will have them surrounded and make for some great shooting for everyone!

    FF

    Avatarwebspec_admin
    Keymaster
    Post count: 18880

    Quote by: pheasant1

    I hunt ALOT! I hunt in groups, by myself, pairs, you name it. The bird numbers are pretty much the same. I can tell you this much. I got buddies who have good dogs and I have buddies who have GREAT dogs, it makes a difference. Also, HOW QUIET you are and if you use blockers. In the middle of the season we used more blockers and the hunting success didn’t drop off one bit. Rotate what areas you hit and when. If you hunt someplace in the morning twice and see nothing, hunt it once in the afternoon. I have seen bigger groups of birds in the couple cold snaps that we have had over last year. I even hunted a few spots in NE iowa and shot birds. My primary territory is central to NC Iowa but the further north you get say above Wright county the pressure doubles and birds are flighty.

    I hunt a lot too. I hunt with other people, other dogs, etc. I don’t and won’t hunt with blockers. I shot more birds this year, significanlty more. I believe strongly in being quiet and approach all hunts that way. Hunting quiet is not a new or novel groundbreaking concept. I hunt many different areas and only hunted the same spot twice a couple times all year.

    The bird numbers were down. I do not agree with you. I am sure there were pockets of the same or better numbers, but generally they were down. I am from NE Iowa and shot birds there as well. I did not have a problem shooting birds. My dog was better this year than last. Guys I hunt with had the same experience. A decline in birds is also what the roadside survey documented as well.

    Do you hunt private land only, public and private, or public land only?

    AvatarTrapCyclone
    Participant
    Post count: 2552

    When you guys talk about being quiet I assume you mean no talking to other people and to your dog? Do you also do things such as going around instead of through thick brush in order to make less noise? It would be helpful if you could elaborate a bit more on what, exactly, you consider as “being quiet” when pheasant hunting.

    AvatarTeamAsgrow
    Participant
    Post count: 9151

    Quote by: TrapCyclone

    When you guys talk about being quiet I assume you mean no talking to other people and to your dog? Do you also do things such as going around instead of through thick brush in order to make less noise? It would be helpful if you could elaborate a bit more on what, exactly, you consider as “being quiet” when pheasant hunting.

    I try not to talk/yell at the dog or others. Trying everything in your power to surprise a bird within range is the goal. Crashing through every clump can alert the birds and they take off on foot and you never know they were there. Hunt into the wind helps carry your noise away from birds as well as keeps the scent in the dogs face. It helps, but if the birds are educated they will be flightly regardless.

    Avatarhopintoweighin
    Participant
    Post count: 205

    As far as numbers I think in my area they have been about the same, maybe up a touch. I hunt mostly south central. Last year I saw a lot on public ground towards the end of season. I rarely hunt public, but I did at the end of the year because a buddy told me they were in there. I also hunted some public this year and it was full of birds. Once again on a tip from a friend. My private ground has had great numbers, but the weather in south central Iowa has been less than desirable. Most weekends we have hunted have been warm and no snow. The two weekends we hunted with snow we did great.

    My two greatest bird dogs did not hunt much this year. One passed away and the other one is 12.5 so she only hunted on certain days. So I was with the 1.5 year old Vizsla who is going to be great dog, but just does not have the tracking ability of the old short hair yet. However, I have seen him grow by leaps and bounds this year and cannot wait for a few trips to the game farm to watch him grow some more before next year.

    As far as quiet I always kill more birds when I am alone or with just one other guy than. It is because when it is just me I do not make much noise and I just follow the dog. So we are also unpredictable. When people are in groups they tend to walk in lines and call the dogs back to them. The best method for me is always just turn the dog loose in a good area and see where he wants to go. He knows more than me, well sometimes I guide him toward the right corner, but I let him take it from there.

    Avatarspeng5
    Participant
    Post count: 2928

    Quote by: TeamAsgrow

    if the birds are educated they will be flighty regardless.

    ^^Yup.

    This time of year, being loud all but assures they will flush 100 yards out. Being painfully slow and quiet means you may have a chance to ding one at the far end of your range with a tight choke. Nothing about chasing roosters this time of year is easy. I must be a glutton for punishment because every year I try for some last weekend birds and ALMOST every year I drive home cussing and cold. Maybe this year I just set up in a fence row with my .22 over some exposed stubble 😈

    bluedirtbluedirt
    Participant
    Post count: 90

    Went out alone on private ground New Years Day. Parked in different area than normal for this field & let the dog work into the wind. Most of the birds actually stayed put near the food plot area. Previous weekend 3 of us hunted the same CRP ground w/3 dogs, whistles, talking & the birds flew out the opposite end soon as we started walking. I buy into the late season stealth idea.
    Only hunted narrow area in far N. Central Ia, but we felt bird numbers were up vs last year. Certainly saw more large groups mid to late season. Zero partridge spotted.
    Hoping to get 1 more hike in Sat a.m.

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