Open crop fields, cool weather could signal good hunting as pheasant season opens

BOONE — Iowa’s pheasant hunting season opens tomorrow morning and state officials say there could be 50- to 60-thousand hunters in the fields.

Todd Bogenshutz, a biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the state’s pheasant numbers appear to be rising.
“Our roadside counts showed populations were a little bit higher than they were a year ago from a statewide perspective,” Bogenshutz says. “Looking at the crop reports this week, it looks like over 75% of the soybeans have been harvested and we’re going to be over 50% of the corn out, certainly by this coming weekend.”

Fields that are clear of crops mean less cover and better hunting. The forecast calls for cooler weather on opening day, with highs only in the 30s and 40s. Bogenshutz says lower temperatures may also mean better hunting.

“A lot of times, our openers can be warm and that can be pretty hard on the hunters and dogs,” Bogenschutz says. “It’s basically the first time out for a lot of hunters and dogs, and so when we’re warm, 70s and 80s, usually that can cause some stress.” There are no significant changes in the hunting rules from last year, he says, and one of the most frequent questions he hears is about the wearing of blaze orange.

“Our upland bird hunters are required to wear at least one article that’s at least 50% blaze orange, whether that’s a hat or a jacket or a vest. We just want everybody to be safe,” Bogenschutz says. “If you’re hunting with a group, and doing drive hunts or whatever, just have a game plan, know where everybody is, where safe shooting zones are.”

Non-toxic shot is required in some areas, including wetlands, and he says to always get permission before hunting on private property. The season runs through January 10th. Find more information at