If you are a person who frequents South Dakota for pheasant hunting,or a South Dakotan who is a pheasant hunter our mild winter was a huge relief. After two very hard winters in a row, last years pheasant numbers were way down. Mortality rates should have remained very low over this past winter with the wacky mild weather. That means that step one in the revive the pheasant population equation was a success.
We are in the middle of step two which is to have a mild and dry spring. Pheasants will be nesting over the next several weeks and for optimal hatches we need to keep our nice streak of weather going. Lately we have moved into a more wet pattern. There were some reports that birds were nesting very early. If that is true some of the wet weather over the past couple of days may have had a negative effect on those birds. Looking at some of the longer range models the rest of the month of April does look fairly active with frequent chances of rain. That isn’t the best news but as long as the rain doesn’t get too heavy hopefully the effects will be minimal.
With as dry as last fall was a little moisture will be good for the habitat that pheasants love. With the high price of corn and some politics pheasant habitat has been suffering a little bit. We continue to lose acres and acres of good pheasant habitat which is of course another reason why numbers have been down. All in all our winter should mean an improved pheasant count later this year. The birds got an early start to nesting which will hopefully be good news for reproductive success rates. If you did some hunting in the state last year you know that the bird numbers were down a little bit, despite the negative reports I was shocked to see as many birds as I did. This state is a pheasant factory, and I am sure that we will see numbers start climbing again starting in 2012.
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