Pheasant Hunting Forecast  |  09/14/2018

Ohio Pheasant Hunting Forecast 2018

By Tom Carpenter


“Ohio had some extended snow cover and extreme cold temperature in early January,” reports Joe Lautenbach, grassland biologist with Ohio DNR / Division of Wildlife. “We also had several other periods of extended snow cover in January and February. Winter weather extended into April in portions of the state. While these types of events are not ideal for pheasants, these conditions have little effect on pheasant survival. There is a chance that the long winter may have harmed early nesting attempts by hens.”

“The good news is, once winter ended, Ohio warmed up quickly,” Lautenbach adds. “Conditions were relatively dry across much of Ohio’s core pheasant range during the nesting and brood rearing periods, which likely increased nest and brood survival.”  


“Each spring the Ohio DNR conducts pheasant crow-count surveys,” says Lautenbach. “Surveys from spring 2018 yielded a statewide population index of 0.19 pheasants per survey stop, a 42% increase from 2017 (0.14 pheasants/survey stop) and equal to the 10-year average of 0.19 pheasants per stop.”

“The counties with the greatest population indices were located in Scioto River watershed, as well as the extreme northwest corner of the state (Defiance and Williams Counties),” he says. “The five counties with the greatest population indices from spring 2018 crow-count surveys were Madison, Defiance, Marion, Pickaway and Ross. We observed the greatest increases in population indices from 2017 in Marion, Madison, and Ross counties.”  


“Habitat conditions are similar to recent past years,” says Lautenbach. “Most of Ohio’s pheasant habitat occurs on private lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), especially in the northwest corner of the state and within the Scioto River watershed.”  


“Wild pheasant hunters in Ohio can expect similar conditions to recent years,” says Lautenbach. “Pheasant populations remain near historic lows. But Ohio’s hunters can find decent numbers of wild pheasants within the Scioto River Watershed and northwest corner of the state. Within these two regions, pheasant populations are localized in areas with suitable habitat. Private lands enrolled in CRP can support pheasants within these regions. Public hunting areas which support wild pheasant populations include Big Island Wildlife Area, Deer Creek Wildlife Area and Lake La Su An Wildlife Area.”  


“Hunters should secure written permission from landowners if they are interested in hunting on private lands,” advises Lautenbach.