Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials say licensed hunters took higher numbers of pheasants, quail, rabbits, doves and partridges during the 2018-19 hunting seasons.
Pheasant hunters harvested nearly 320,000 roosters in Iowa during the 2018 season, which was the highest harvest total since 2008 and up from the 221,000 roosters harvested in 2017, according to DNR data.
“The 2018 roadside survey showed our pheasant population was 39 percent higher than in 2017, so we were expecting an improved pheasant harvest,” said Todd Bogenschutz, DNR upland wildlife biologist.
Based on Iowa’s pheasant population, harvest numbers should be in excess of 500,000 birds, he said, but the primary factor holding totals down is the lack of hunters.
“Even with a positive forecast last year, we saw a 4 percent drop in the number of pheasant hunters,” he noted.
Iowa’s 2019 pheasant season begins Oct. 26.
Iowa’s quail harvest followed the same trend. Hunters harvested an estimated 47,000 quail last year, which was the highest total since 2007.
Also, the DNR survey estimated hunters harvested 123,000 rabbits, nearly 81,000 squirrels and nearly 119,000 doves.