Every spring the North Dakota Game & Fish teams up with mail delivery drivers, and they survey the pheasant population with its spring crowing counts.  Observers drive different routes over a specific 20-mile area over the state.  They break it into the 3 major pheasant areas, the northwest, southwest, and southeast. They also survey the northeast, but that is considered a  marginal pheasant habitat in the state.

This past fall North Dakota was in a significant drought over most of the primary pheasant range.  The pheasant chick hatch in the spring of 2021 was very poor with a lack of insects and water for young chicks.  Survival rates were very poor in many areas of the state.  Because of this, North Dakota pheasant hunters had fewer pheasants in the field overall last fall which led to tougher hunting.

So, it should come as no surprise this year's annual 2022 spring pheasant crowing count survey was down by a hefty 22%.  I also noticed a lack of pheasants crowing this spring.  Usually, when I let my lab out to do her business in the morning, the second I open the door, I would hear the familiar sound of a pheasant crow.  Not nearly as much this spring.

According to an article from the North Dakota Game & Fish website, the decrease came as no surprise.  The lingering effects of the drought of 2020 and 2021 will continue to impact this upcoming fall hunting season.

When you break down the regions, the southwest showed 14.1 crows per stop down from 18.4 in 2021.  The northwest came in at 13.7 crows per stop down from 14.3, only a minor change.  The southeast was a bit more significant with 9.7 crows per stop, down from 14.5.  The northeast, which again is not a primary pheasant range only had 3.0 crows per stop, down from 5.2 last year.

It's not all bad news, current conditions are improving across the state with adequate moisture this spring.  The cover has improved, which should lead to more insects, which will help the survival of young chicks.  This could mean more birds in the field this coming hunting season.  Pheasant chicks hatch from early June all the way to late July.  Much of the nesting success will depend on the weather.

The North Dakota Game & Fish will conduct its roadside count of pheasants at the end of July.  That will be another piece of the puzzle to see how the upcoming pheasant hunting season will go.

I myself can't wait!

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