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2022 UPLAND BIRD HUNTING FORECAST

Posted 8/19/22 (Fri)

The 2022 pheasant brood numbers were significantly higher than last year. Compared with the 2021 survey, broods per mile was 10% higher, young pheasants per mile were 87% higher, and total pheasants per mile (3.2) were 71% higher.

Compared with the previous 5-year average, total pheasants per mile were 78% higher.   Compared with the previous 10-year average, total pheasants per mile were 9% higher.

Weather patterns have been mixed with last fall being wet, an average winter, extremely dry spring conditions, and above average rainfall during the summer. Average brood sizes were much higher (8.2 chicks/brood) this year indicating high chick survival.

Prairie grouse (prairie-chicken and sharp-tailed grouse) spring lek surveys showed a 13% decrease in breeding males compared to high counts last year (9% lower for prairie-chickens and 13% lower for sharp-tailed grouse) which is still 35% higher than the five-year average and 34% higher than the long-term average.  Due to good nesting conditions brood rearing conditions, we expect that grouse chick survival was high similar to pheasant chick survival.

Habitat conditions are average this year because of a dry start in the spring but good summer precipitation. Grass cover is average to good and food plots and pollinator plots are good to excellent. Most prairie wetlands are dry.

Overall, bird hunting should be better than last year and higher than 10-year averages. We continue to manage about 7,000 acres of CRP grassland, 700 acres of food plots and pollinator plots, many shelterbelts and over 60,000 acres of Walk-in Hunting lands.

Licenses are available on-line or by phone. The office will be open from 8 – 4:30 on weekdays and Saturdays (October 1 – November 19).