Pheasant Forecast 2008

Utah Habitat is dwindling in this beautiful and rural western state, which is reducing pheasant numbers. Yet fair bird production should offer hunting similar to that experienced in 2007. Opening dates vary with the region of the state hunted, and there's a two bird daily limit. Outdoor Life Online Editor

California Proper irrigation is the key to good pheasant populations on California farmlands. Places having supplemental irrigation of pheasant cover last spring had good pheasant chick survival, and hunting in those areas this fall should be good. Pheasant numbers are average in the northern San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento River delta while the southern San Joaquin Valley had below average pheasant production. California's pheasant season opens Nov. 10. Limits vary according to state region. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Colorado Pheasant populations are believed to be above average in northeast Colorado, about average in the southeast part of the state. Prime nesting conditions in Logan, Phillips, Yuma and Sedgwick counties should make for top pheasant hunting this year. But Morgan, Washington and Weld counties in northeast Colorado had poor weather and pheasant nesting success. Southeast Colorado also looks poor due to drought. Colorado pheasant hunting begins Nov. 8, with a daily limit of three. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Indiana Northern Indiana escaped flooding this year, so the state's best pheasant areas were spared. Bird numbers are stable in the north, and hunters should again harvest over 20,000 roosters. Benton and Newton counties are in good shape, and bird populations are improving in northeast Indiana, especially in DeKalb and Steuben counties. Indiana's pheasant season begins Nov. 7, with a two-bird limit. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Idaho Southwest Idaho near Weiser and Boise; and north-central Idaho around Lewiston and Moscow will be among the best bets in the state for ringnecks. This season should be better than last year, when drought hit birds hard. But hunting this year likely won't stack up to the 2005-06 season, which was tops. Idaho pheasant hunting has different regional opening dates, with a statewide daily bag limit of three. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Illinois North-central and east-central Illinois will offer the best pheasant opportunities. Three months of winter snow cover and excessive spring rains have diminished pheasant numbers from 25 to 35 percent this year, compared to 2007, in much of central and northwestern Illinois. Hunting begins Nov. 1, with a daily limit of two pheasants. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Iowa Last year's brutal winter and spring weather crushed the Iowa pheasant population, but not as bad as initially believed, according to Iowa DNR biologist Todd Bogenschutz. In 2007, 632,000 pheasants were harvested by 110,000 hunters. Bogenschutz believes the state population is down 32 percent, and there likely will be a 10 percent decrease in Iowa pheasant hunters this season. Over 300,000 CRP habitat acres have been lost, too, so recovery next year may be a bit shaky, even if weather conditions are optimum. Iowa pheasant hunting begins Oct. 25; daily limit three. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Kansas This is will be a great year for Kansas ringnecks, with some estimates showing an increased population over last year of 35 percent. That's significant, because in 2007, 887,000 roosters were bagged. This could equate to Kansas giving up 1 million pheasants this fall! Northwest Kansas is jammed with birds, with notable counties including Rawlins, Logan, Ford, Kiowa, Russell and Phillips. Areas north and east of Dodge City will be good, too. South-central Kansas will be better than last year; but southwest Kansas will not be as productive. The state pheasant season starts Nov. 1, with a four bird limit. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Nebraska Hunters and biologists were concerned that last year's bitter winter and early spring rain may have devastated Nebraska's pheasant population. But bird counts indicate the pheasant population is about the same as last year. An increase in population is predicted in the Panhandle and southwest; diminished bird numbers in the southeast. Prime counties include Burt, Cuming, Dixon, Stanton, Wayne, Dundy, Furnas, Harlan, Hitchcock and Perkins. The limit is three pheasants, hunting begins Oct. 27. Outdoor Life Online Editor
New Jersey Wingshooters should have a similar pheasant season as last year, when 7,000 long-tail birds were bagged during put-and-take hunts. Best bird bet is south of Trenton near the Delaware River. New Jersey's pheasant opener is Nov. 8, a two bird daily limit. Outdoor Life Online Editor
North Dakota While not as good as last season, state Upland Game Management Supervisor Stan Kohn believes the upcoming pheasant season will be like 2005, when over 800,000 ringnecks were collected statewide. Best areas will be east of Lake Sakakawea and south of I-94. Habitat loss is rampant in North Dakota, with over 400,000 acres of CRP now gone, another two million acres destined to be put to the plow over the next four years. That will severely impact hunting habitat and pheasant populations statewide. North Dakota pheasant hunters hit the fields Oct. 11, with a three-ringneck daily limit. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Michigan Last winter was the worst in nearly a decade for Michigan, but it's unknown what effect that had on ringnecks. State upland game specialist Al Stewart believes hunters will collect slightly below the 2006 harvest, when 56,000 gunners collected 100,000 birds. Michigan has a staggered opening pheasant season, with a daily bag limit of two. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Minnesota The state has had seven consecutive mild winters, which has boosted pheasant numbers across the southern agricultural counties, particularly in the southwest. South-central and east-central Minnesota are also slated to be flush with pheasants. CRP loss has been only 80,000 acres in Minnesota, better than in some nearby states. While the bird tally is expected to be down from last year's stunning harvest of 655,000 roosters, experts believe well over 500,000 ringnecks will be collected this year. Bird populations remain at the state 10-year average. The season opener is Oct. 11, limit 2 birds daily, increasing to three birds on Dec. 1. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Missouri Last year 30,000 roosters fell to 10,000 hunters in Missouri. But cool temperatures and rain soured nesting conditions, so pheasant numbers are down 40 percent from last year. A potential positive is hay harvest from rain delayed cutting and may help boost bird numbers. Prime spots are Livingston and Scotland counties. Season opening dates are staggered according to region, with a statewide, two-bird daily limit. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Montana Big Sky bird hunters collected 151,000 pheasants last year, 23 percent above the state 20-year harvest average. The north, east and southern agricultural counties should be at least as good this year for ringnecks. Rain and cold hurt birds in the western part of the state. Hunting starts Oct. 11, with a three pheasant limit. Outdoor Life Online Editor
New York Cold and rain were devastating for pheasants in New York last winter and spring. Even in the best regions, numbers are at all-time lows. The Lakes Plain area of western New York and south of Lake Ontario most likely will have the most birds. Opening dates vary to region, as do daily limits. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Ohio Poor weather hurt pheasant nesting and survival, so numbers are down 25 percent from last year, according to state biologists. Gunners tallied 160,000 birds last season, but likely won't come close to that harvest this time around. Huge CRP habitat loss is crippling pheasant production and populations. But prime counties include Williams, Defiance, Wyandot, Marion and Madison. Ross and Pickaway counties are slated to improve for pheasants in coming years. State limit is two long-tails, hunting begins Nov. 7. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Oregon More birds are predicted this year for Oregon's 9,000 pheasant hunters who collected 25,000 ringnecks in 2007. The Columbia River basin is best, with plenty of young birds expected. Sherman, Umatilla and Malheur counties should yield best hunting opportunities. Season gets underway Oct. 18, daily limit two. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Pennsylvania The state is working hard in wild pheasant restoration, but bird numbers have not gained strength due to declining habitat. Best bets are Washington, Northumberland, Columbia and Montour counties. Pheasant hunting gets underway Oct. 25, limit two ringnecks. Outdoor Life Online Editor
South Dakota It seems impossible, but this coming season should be even better than last year, when 2.1 million pheasants were downed by 181,000 hunters. Ringnecks have increased 9 percent over 2007. Good weather is the reason, even though 300,000 acres of CRP were lost to farming last year. Top hunting should be available throughout the state, with the central portion of South Dakota classed as "phenomenal" by area experts. South Dakota senior upland game biologist Chad Switzer says increased CRP habitat throttled state pheasant numbers to record levels not seen in almost 40 years. Yet hundreds of thousands of CRP land is slated to be lost over the next few years, which in all likelihood will hurt pheasant populations. South Dakota's pheasant hunting has staggered opening dates according to region, with a daily limit of three roosters. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Washington Weather conditions were not the best last year, and overall state pheasant numbers are spotty compared to the last few good seasons. Still, wheat agricultural areas that were mostly dry during spring should have some good hunting. It's doubtful this season will be as good as 2007, when 23,000 gunners took 70,000 pheasants. October 18 is the state pheasant opener, daily limit of three cock birds. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Wisconsin Heavy winter snow and a wet spring have pheasant populations 30 percent less than last year, according to state DNR biologist Sharon Fandel. The west-central region of the Badger State should be better than the traditional agricultural land in the south. Season begins Oct. 18, with a two bird bag. Outdoor Life Online Editor
Wyoming Drought has been tough on pheasants in the Cowboy State, but decent spring rains this year helped the hatch. Spots to try include Goshen and Big Horn counties. Hunting dates are staggered around Wyoming for pheasants, with a three-bird, statewide limit. ** October is the High Life for Pheasants Forever** Saint Paul, Minn. – October 1, 2008 – To honor its long-standing connection with Pheasants Forever (PF) and the outdoors, Miller High Life will make a donation to PF for every case of Miller High Life sold during the month of October. Camouflaged packaging and cans of Miller High Life and Miller High Lite are available nationally from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. The outdoor-themed 24- and 30-packs continue the brand's support of the outdoors, which includes its affiliation with PF. The Miller High Life brand established Friends of the Field in 1994 to support wildlife habitat conservation and to promote responsible sporting. Pheasants Forever became the first conservation partner to join Friends of the Field, helping keep our grasslands, woods and waters clean for future generations to enjoy. Additionally, Miller High Life has been the long-time sponsor of Pheasants Forever's annual Print of the Year. Miller High Life's support of the Print of the Year has resulted in well over a million dollars in revenue for Pheasants Forever's conservation efforts. Outdoor Life Online Editor

If you’re a pheasant hunter, this fall and winter should be a good one in much of heartland America. Here are state-by-state details. By Bob McNally.