Pheasant hunting a great excuse to get outdoors as temperatures drop

Pheasant hunters should have plenty of harvest opportunities during the late season hunt.

“The hunting forecast looks really good for the latter part of the pheasant season,” said Nicole Davros, farmland wildlife research supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Our August roadside survey counts were up in most areas of the pheasant range this year, and early hunting season field reports have confirmed our suspicion that we may have under-detected birds due to a late hatch.” 

Field conditions were wet enough that the corn harvest was significantly delayed again this fall.

“Another factor setting us up nicely for the late season hunt is that most of the corn has now been harvested. Roosters have fewer places to hide and hunters should be seeing more birds,” Davros said.

With the transition in weather, pheasants are using both grassland cover and winter cover such as cattail sloughs and willow thickets, according to Scott Roemhildt, DNR southern regional director.

“Hunters who are willing to do a little walking and work these tougher-to-reach areas will have opportunities to harvest birds,” Roemhildt said. “The colder weather in our forecast will make wetlands more accessible to hunters as the water freezes up.”

Both Davros and Roemhildt agree that late-season pheasant hunting is a great excuse to get away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, regardless of whether any roosters are put in your bag.

“During the hectic holiday season, pheasant hunting is a great opportunity to both stretch your legs and clear your mind,” Davros said.

Added Roemhildt: “It’s also a chance to introduce someone new to pheasant hunting as kids get time off from school and family comes to visit.”

The daily bag limit is two roosters with a possession limit of six roosters through November. On Dec. 1, the daily bag limit increases to three roosters with a possession limit of nine roosters.

Hunters need a small game license and a pheasant stamp to hunt pheasants in Minnesota. A small game license costs $22 for Minnesota residents age 18 to 64, and the pheasant stamp costs $7.50. Pheasant hunters 65 and older need to buy a small game license for $13.50 but are not required to buy a stamp. Hunters age 16 to 17 must buy a $5 small game license but do not need to buy a stamp, and hunters under 16 can hunt pheasants without a license or stamp.

Active members of the military home on leave are able to hunt without needing to purchase a small game license or stamp. Check the 2018 hunting and trapping regulations booklet for additional requirements and other license information.

Hunters also can purchase a Walk-In Access validation for $3 to gain additional public hunting opportunities on private land that is enrolled in the program. This year, nearly 30,000 acres of land across more than 250 sites in western and southern Minnesota are open to public hunting.

Minnesota’s 2018 pheasant season is open through Tuesday, Jan. 1. Shooting hours are 9 a.m. to sunset. Additional details on pheasant hunting are available at mndnr.gov/hunting/pheasant. Additional details on the Walk-In Access Program are available at mndnr.gov/walkin.