|  12/07/2012

Midseason Pheasant Hunting Report: Minnesota

With snow finally forecast, Minnesota pheasant hunters will look to find pheasants in cattails. Photo by Rehan Nana / Pheasants Forever

Minnesota’s midseason pheasant hunting could turn into late season pheasant hunting in a hurry, as the first winter storm of the season is predicted to move through the state’s pheasant range this weekend. Dry conditions have persisted all fall, so hunters and dogs alike will welcome the moisture, as well as the additional rooster that can be added to the game bag (from two to three daily) through the remainder of the season.
Here with on-the-ground hunting and habitat reports are Pheasants Forever staff members in Minnesota:
Pheasant hunting in Big Stone County has been average. There are a decent number of birds but due to the lack of snow cover and cold weather, birds are spread out and are jumpy.  Hunters are putting their time in to shoot their roosters.  Large blocks of grass with interspersed cattail wetlands offer the best opportunities.  The concern is what will happen to bird numbers the following year if a harsh winter sets in and upland habitat loss continues.      
- Eric Magedanz, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist, Pheasants Forever – Ortonville
For Lyon County, the pheasant hunting has been pretty good. With just about all the fields harvested before pheasant season started, one would think that this would bring more nonresidents and out-of-area hunters to the Marshall area, thereby increasing the pressure on the Wildlife Management Areas in the area and leading to decreased hunting success. Whether hunting public or private land in the area, I’ve noticed little difference in quality of cover and bird numbers, and have actually probably harvested a couple more birds on public than on the private land. As other reports from South Dakota mentioned, there are a lot of hens being flushed, which is good to see. Personally, my best success has come from hunting smaller areas-buffer strips, small dried up wetlands – anything else you can find along the water. Keeping quiet and working fast has also increased success this year.
For Lac Qui Parle County, the report is very similar. A lot of birds are being seen, whether on private or public land. Hunters have been reporting success in the buffer strips and other small pieces as well. The local Pheasants Forever chapter recently closed on a new parcel of land that has excellent existing cover, and should be a prime hunting spot for chasing late season roosters! The habitat in Lac Qui Parle is some of the best in the state, with numerous wetlands and dense vegetation on both private and public land. Even with the drought, the late season hunting should be great just about anywhere you go. With a little luck and some much needed winter snows (cross your fingers!), there should be some great late season hunting stories to be told this year. Good luck and hunt smart!
With decent bird numbers and some recent hunting success, we cannot rely on Mother Nature to be so kind to us (and bird numbers) every year. The effects are clearly evident that too many grassland and CRP acres are falling victim to the plow. If we wish to pass on our hunting heritage to future generations, it’s the responsibility of all of us – as hunters and conservationists – to urge congress to pass a new Farm Bill. Make your voices heard!
- Troy Dale, Farm Bill Biologist, Pheasants Forever – Madison
Most of the success I’m hearing about is coming from hunters focusing their time on the inside edge of cattail sloughs that are dry and walkable.  Most of my personal success is similar with the roosters I am finding to be located closely to cattails or willow thickets.   The most pleasant surprise for me this year is the higher pheasant numbers in the counties located on the northern edge of Minnesota’s pheasant range from Fergus Falls through Wadena to Staples and Motley over to Milaca all the way to Mora.  It’s a good year for a guy trying to combo on roosters and ruffed grouse.
- Bob St.Pierre, Vice President of Marketing, Pheasants Forever – Saint Paul
Have you been pheasant hunting in Minnesota this year? If so, post your own report in the comments section below.
Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.