Pheasant hunters still have time to harvest roosters this December.
“We had a late corn harvest which affected the early pheasant season but things are shaping up nicely for late-season hunting,” said Nicole Davros, farmland wildlife research supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Additionally, despite the lower overall count on our roadside surveys this year, our rooster index went up slightly. This means there are still birds to chase out there.”
Field conditions were wet enough that the corn harvest was significantly delayed this fall.
“Now that the crops are out of the fields, there are fewer places to hide and hunters should be seeing more roosters,” Davros said.
Despite warmer weather in late November, pheasants are already using both grassland cover and winter cover such as cattail sloughs and willow thickets, according to Scott Roemhildt, DNR Walk-in Access Program coordinator.
“Hunters who are willing to 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.
“Pheasant hunting is a great way to stretch your legs and clear your mind when things get hectic,” 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.”
On Dec. 1, the daily bag limit increased 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.
Hunters can also purchase a Walk-In Access validation for $3 to gain additional public hunting opportunities on private land that is enrolled in the program. As of September, 25,335 acres of land across 241 sites in western and southern Minnesota have been enrolled in the program.
Minnesota’s 2017 pheasant season is open through Monday, 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.