By Tom Carpenter
WEATHER AND CONDITIONS
“Winter weather in 2017-18 was relatively mild and should have had minimal impact on pheasant numbers,” reports Dave Hoover, small game coordinator with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). “We should have had decent numbers of birds carry over to the spring nesting season.”
“Spring was late arriving and may have delayed or affected early nest success,” he says, “but reports from the field have been encouraging regarding nesting season.”
HATCH AND BROODS
“MDC does summer brood counts and August roadside surveys,” says Hoover. “This year’s exceptionally hot and dry weather likely resulted in very few good survey mornings (i.e., no heavy due present). But given the positive survey results in some of the regions and positive field reports, overall 2018 season should be slightly better than 2017.” Here is a summary:
Northwest: Down 80% over last year, but there are good reports from field staff in those counties. That number may be a misnomer.
North-Central: Up 21% over last year
Northeast: Up 57% over last year.
HABITAT AND PROGRAMS
"Our drought, although not good for agriculture, has not hindered production, and has likely helped by reducing vegetation biomass allowing for easier movement of newly hatched broods as they search feeding areas,” says Hoover.
"The amount and distribution of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields planted to native vegetation provides the basis for Missouri's pheasant production,” notes Hoover.
"Pheasant hunting in Missouri is best in the northern tier of counties in and should be equal to or better than 2017 season,” says Hoover. “Hunters should focus on conservation areas or large open tracts of private land, with a combination of CRP and crop fields in which they have landowner permission. Northwest and north-central Missouri are best.”