The numbers North Dakota pheasant hunters have been waiting for now are out, and the news is good: Pheasant numbers are up from last year, based on results from roadside surveys conducted in late July and August.
According to RJ Gross, upland game biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, this year’s survey shows total pheasants observed per 100 miles are up 10% from last year. In addition, broods per 100 miles are up 17%, while the average brood size is down 5%. The final summary is based on 275 survey runs made along 101 brood routes across North Dakota.
“This was the first year in a while that we’ve had good residual cover to start the year, and good weather for nesting and brood-rearing,” Gross said. “In the southwest portion of the state, which is our primary pheasant district and most popular hunting area, local populations are slowly improving."
Gross said hunters should not overlook pheasant opportunities in northwest and southeast North Dakota. “Two good years of chick production should translate to more birds for hunters to pursue,” he said.
Statistics from the northwest indicate pheasants are up 49% from last year, with broods up 75%. Observers recorded five broods and 39 pheasants per 100 miles. Average brood size was six.
Results from the southeast show birds are up 32% from last year, and the number of broods up 27%. Observers counted six broods and 51 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was six.
Statistics from southwestern North Dakota indicate total pheasants were down 7% and broods observed up 2% from 2018. For every 100 survey miles, observers counted an average of six broods and 41 pheasants. The average brood size was five chicks.
The northeast district, generally containing secondary pheasant habitat with lower pheasant numbers compared to the rest of the state, showed two broods and 15 pheasants per 100 miles. Average brood size was four.
The 2019 regular pheasant season opens Oct. 12 and continues through Jan. 5, 2020. The two-day youth pheasant hunting weekend, when legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger can hunt statewide, is set for Oct. 5-6.