Summer Pheasant Report: North Dakota

d4d28dbb-ed43-4120-9a1e-d8e10c7be061 By Tom Carpenter, Editor - Pheasants Forever

No matter how you measure summer, it starts to wane somewhere, sometime, in July. 

Maybe the weather doesn’t quite say autumn is on the way, but the upland hunter’s mind begins to turn just a bit toward autumn – getting the dog out more, shooting a few rounds, patching up those boots and brush pants, placing that ammo order … and dreaming about splendid roosters erupting into a blue autumn sky.

It’s never too early to dream. Or to start planning autumn’s excursions and adventures. That’s why I surveyed key wildlife managers in the ten of the top pheasant states to see what was going on with the birds right now. While the biologists are careful to hold predictions close to their vests until official roadside surveys and the like are in, it’s also far enough along to take an early look.

Read on. Dream on. Start getting ready. Here's the update from North Dakota.


“Weather has been good … so far,” reports R.J. Gross Jr., Upland Game Management Biologist with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. “We had a bit of a late start to spring. However, we have been getting adequate rains to promote nesting vegetation growth.”

“Preliminary reports of broods have been good,” he says. “Many reports of large broods (10+ young) have been coming in.”

“There have been a few severe weather events that undoubtedly will have an effect on some brood survival,” he cautions. “All signs point to a good hatch though, and chick survivability should be high. However, there is a lot that can happen between now and hunting season. We will have a better idea of how the hatch was when we start our brood surveys July 20th.”


“We are still losing grasslands to agriculture conversion,” says Gross. That means your advocacy efforts to your representative and senators for a strong conservation component to the 2018 Farm Bill will continue to be critical.

Programs and Prospects

When asked what upland programs are doing well in North Dakota, Gross says the PLOTS programs (Private Lands Open to Sportsmen) is going strong. How strong? It looks like the acre count will approach 750,000 this fall. That’s a few lifetimes’ worth of upland hunting and exploring.

“All signs are pointing to an uptick in pheasant numbers,” says Gross. Stay tuned. North Dakota’s brood surveys will tell more of the story.