Indiana pheasant season looks okay, should be about like the last few
By Greg Breining
Someone trying to read the available evidence for pheasant numbers in Indiana might suffer a bit of whiplash.
“Crow counts were near normal in better areas of the state, primarily north-central and northwest, excluding Lake County. Given the mild winter with average snowfall and temperature levels, over-winter pheasant survival was probably good,” says Matt Broadway, small game research biologist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
But if that sounds good, here’s something to temper your enthusiasm.
“Above average precipitation through the first three months of nesting season may have negative impacts on nest or hen survival, which could counter any positive effect of high over-winter survival,” he says.
But it might not be as bad as all that. “Dry conditions during the second nesting peak could have provided a boost in late-season nest and brood survival,” he says.
Put it all together: “I expect pheasant hunting to be about average in Indiana,” Broadway says.
Indiana pheasant hunters would do well to head to the northwestern corner of the state. “Traditionally, the best pheasant numbers come from Benton, Jasper and Pulaski counties,” says Broadway. There’s not much reason to think this year will be different, though hunters may find it worth their while to explore areas farther to the east. Says Broadway, “The most improved areas, based on added private land conservation enrollments, are probably Steuben and LaGrange counties.”
It’s a fact that wild pheasants are in short supply. “Most of the pheasants killed on public lands are put-and-take birds,” says Broadway. For hunters who want to participate, “the best public lands are the Game Bird Properties in the northwest,” he says. Unfortunately, the chances of being drawn for a hunt are poor.
Other opportunities for put-and-take hunting are Atterbury, Glendale, J. E. Roush Lake, Pigeon River, Tri-County, Willow Slough, and Winamac fish and wildlife areas.
The Indiana Private Lands Access program provides opportunities for hunters to tromp privately owned land enrolled in the program. When the application period is open, hunters can apply online.
Check the Indiana DNR website for details about put-and-take pheasant hunting. The Indiana DNR Where to Hunt Finder is an interactive map for hunters to find public land for hunting, fishing, and other activities.
Pheasant season runs November 1 to December 15. The daily bag limit for pheasants is two roosters.