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2019 looks to be good year for duck, pheasant hunting in Iowa

Hunting guide Ryan Bright (from left) grabs a dead pheasant from hunter Randy Schmitt during Aiming for a Cure’s Celebrity Hunt event in March 2016 at Highland Hideaway Hunting in Riverside. Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials said Wednesday the state’s pheasant population this year is similar to last year, when hunters bagged a record number of roosters. (The Gazette)
Hunting guide Ryan Bright (from left) grabs a dead pheasant from hunter Randy Schmitt during Aiming for a Cure’s Celebrity Hunt event in March 2016 at Highland Hideaway Hunting in Riverside. Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials said Wednesday the state’s pheasant population this year is similar to last year, when hunters bagged a record number of roosters. (The Gazette)

Things are looking up for hunters of pheasants and ducks in Iowa.

Officials at the state Department of Natural Resources say rain in September was a game changer for Iowa duck hunters, improving habitat conditions across most of the state by creating a number of shallow water areas where food is available.

“The continuous rains have really changed the habitat from the early teal season,” said Orrin Jones, state waterfowl biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

That’s on top of an active weather pattern up north that sent a large migration push into Iowa recently. The combination of quality habitat and available birds will give hunters an opportunity for success, Jones said.

Duck season is open in Iowa’s north zone through Dec. 3, in the south zone through Dec. 10, and will be open in the Missouri River zone from Oct. 26 to Dec. 17.

Meanwhile, Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist, said Iowa pheasant hunters bagged more roosters last year than they had in the last decade, and the prospects for the 2019 pheasant season will be about the same.

Iowa’s pheasant population is similar to last year, except in south-central and southeast Iowa, where bird numbers are down significantly after a late-arriving winter and cool, rainy spring. A roadside survey in August was nearly identical to 2008, when Iowa hunters harvested 400,000 roosters.

The state’s rooster pheasant hunting season opens Oct. 26 and lasts through Jan. 10.

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