Pheasants Forever has released a review of the winter conditions of several states and how snowfall, storms, and habitat combined to either help or hurt ringnecks. Less snow and fewer blizzards give pheasants a fighting chance through the lean months of winter – good habitat, such as cattail sloughs and shelter belts can increase that survival rate even more.
Of course, winter survival is not a clear indication of what we’ll see next hunting season – nesting conditions and brood-rearing environment play perhaps larger roles – but it’s at least an initial indicator.
Here’s a quick synopsis of some of the states:
South Dakota: The epicenter of everything pheasant, South Dakota’s hunting seasons, by many reports, have been less than stellar the last couple of years due to brutal winters. Pheasants caught a bit of a break this year, however, and it could be what primes the pump for another typically stellar SoDak season.
North Dakota: Like SoDak, North Dakota didn’t suffer for too long under brutal conditions – they had a tough December but after that it wasn’t horrible. That’s the good news. The bad news is that drought has plagued parts of the state, and low snowfall won’t provide any relief. Spring blizzards have a tendency to hit the other areas – both of which can impact brood mortality.
Nebraska: Habitat loss and drought have pounded Cornhusker pheasants for several years, but if spring rains come at the right time Pheasants Forever is hoping that population strongholds in the southwest will rebound.
Montana: Like the Dakotas, Montana can suffer from brutal winter conditions. But this year, similar to both North and South Dakota, Montana escaped Mother Nature’s wrath and its winter mortality shouldn’t be a huge issue for the state’s birds. What will play a bigger role will be spring snows and habitat going forward.
Check out the complete report for more in-depth coverage of these states, as well as Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois and Kansas.
Photo: Susanne Nilsson via Flickr