Something To Crow About? The ND Pheasant & Upland Game Outlook
The pheasant season in North Dakota begins tomorrow. One of the most anticipated hunting openers of the year. We had a very mild winter in North Dakota, and that sure helped carry over a lot of birds from last season. However, the hatch this spring was heavily influenced by our current drought. It was so dry, and with a lack of insects and water for the young birds, many did not survive.
According to the video below from the North Dakota Game and Fish, roadside brood surveys for pheasants this summer were unsuccessful because of how dry it was.
It's a good bet that North Dakota pheasant and upland game hunters will not see as many juvenile numbers in the bag as you typically would. That means smarter birds, fewer birds, and tougher hunting conditions. Because of the drought, you will have a tougher time finding suitable habitat to hunt birds. You will likely see more competition from other hunters with fewer hunting spots. Your best bet will be to go to the parts of the state that have seen more rain this summer and will have better grass coverage. Much of the CRP acreage has been cut in the emergency haying declaration, again due to drought conditions.
Overall, Sharp-tailed Grouse were up 12% in the Spring Census Block dancing grounds survey. That's 4 consecutive up years in the state. However, reproduction this spring is feared to be pretty low. The Game and Fish says you should concentrate your efforts along the Missouri River.
Ruffed Grouse numbers look to be the same as last year or slightly down.
Hungarian Partridge might be the lone bright spot. Partridge tend to do better in dry conditions than other upland game birds.
Overall it might be a tough season in general for upland game birds. Less cover, fewer birds, more competition for hunting spots, and oh yeah, it's pretty tough to even find shotgun shells this season. With that being said, I'm still looking forward to the pheasant opener. It's the most wonderful time of the year.
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