2017 Pheasant Brood Survey Results
Posted 8/23/17 (Wed)
Pheasant numbers have declined for the third year in a row. Due primarily to severe drought and extreme temperatures this spring and summer, pheasant counts are down 65% compared to last year and 77% lower than the 10-year average. Total pheasants per mile (1.2), brood size (5.0 chicks/brood) and % of hens with brood (45%) were the lowest on record.
After a fairly dry, average temperature winter, we experienced very little rain April – July with more than 10 days of over 100 degrees. Fewer pheasants than average went into the winter and nesting cover conditions were well below average. Brood survival was very low.
Prairie grouse numbers on the spring leks were about 10% below last year and slightly below the ten-year average. However, we expect that grouse brood survival will be low due to the severe drought and extreme summer temperatures.
From late July through late August, precipitation has been plentiful and allowed everything to green up nicely; however there has been widespread crop failure in the un-irrigated fields in our area. Food plots are in fair to good condition, a few failed completely. Grassland areas have short and sparse stands due to poor spring moisture conditions. Parts of some CRP fields were released for emergency haying for local livestock producers.
Overall, upland bird hunting should be poorer than last year and poorer than our ten-year average; our counts are slightly lower than 2013. Hunters with good bird dogs and willingness to cover some ground will still be able to get in some decent hunting this year, but birds are far from the numbers we should have with the quality habitat that we manage.