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ND pheasant harvest takes a dip

There was no surprise the 2013 harvest numbers for pheasant was down. However, North Dakota Game and Fish upland game supervisor Stan Kohn said the harvest numbers were positive despite the conditions. The total number of pheasant taken was 447,0...

Pheasant
A rooster pheasant in the North Dakota snow, provided by Craig Birhle of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Forum Communications Co.

There was no surprise the 2013 harvest numbers for pheasant was down.
However, North Dakota Game and Fish upland game supervisor Stan Kohn said the harvest numbers were positive despite the conditions.
The total number of pheasant taken was 447,000 roosters by 76,000 hunters. Not only was the number of birds down by 27 percent from 2012, but the number of hunters also decreased by 11 percent.
“We kind of knew numbers were going to be down,” Kohn said. “We had poor production in the spring of last year. We just had terrible weather with rain and cold and those hens seemed like they always had to renest. The more they do that the fewer eggs they lay and less productivity is going to happen from that.”
In the 2012 harvest, nearly 86,000 hunters took 616,000 roosters.
Despite the overall numbers down, the counties with the high percentage of pheasant taken were in southwest North Dakota.
Hettinger had the highest number of pheasant taken at 9.6 birds bagged per hunter. Burleigh and McLean were tied for second highest at 7.9, while Morton was at 6.8. Stark rounded out the top five at 5.5.
The highest number of nonresident hunters was also found in Hettinger at 24.8 percent. Bowman was at 12.2, while Adam was 4 percent. Kohn said number of nonresident hunters are one third in North Dakota.
“That’s to be expected, because the breeding of those counties south of (Interstate 94) and west of the Missouri River to Montana was probably better than any other part of the state,” Kohn said. “They had a jumpstart on better potential for better numbers. When you start out with a higher breeding population, you can sustain a loss better.”
The future numbers in North Dakota are to be determined.
Kohn said all the information about the Game and Fish’s numbers aren’t in yet, but he did say the preliminary results show pheasant numbers should be a little bit higher.
“Just looking at some of the information that has trickled in from the data forms is that our numbers are going to be better than what they have been the last couple of years,” he said. “Breeding populations were up a little bit. Though I can’t give a percentage yet as to how high I think we are going to be, I think we are going to be on the positive end rather than on the negative end as the number of birds that are going to be available this year.”

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