Bird Dog & Retriever News

Dec 2016 / Jan 2017 issue page 11

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IDNR Adds Waterfowl Hunting Opportunities in Central Illinois
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has secured several waterfowl hunting sites in Macoupin, Sangamon, and Schuyler counties through its Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP).
Open to the public from November 1 through December 31, these sites are on private land leased by IRAP.  Each site can accommodate up to four hunters in a group and can be hunted for five consecutive days. 
To take advantage of one of these sites, hunters must first complete an application and send it to the IRAP program.  Lotteries will be held at least weekly to fill each site.  Successful applicants will be mailed their waterfowl site permits and other information about the location.
The waterfowl sites in Macoupin County already have blinds established.  Dogs are welcome, but no boats or ATVs may be used.  Sites can be reserved with an application found online at this link:
DNR looking for opinions on current migratory game bird seasons
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is asking Iowa migratory game bird hunters what they liked and disliked about the 2016 migratory game bird seasons, as a first step in developing proposed 2017 migratory game bird season dates. 
Comments should be directed to Orrin Jones, state waterfowl biologist, at by December 1, 2016.
Migratory game bird hunters will have the opportunity to provide additional comments in response to proposed dates and bag limits approved for comment by the Natural Resource Commission. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has adopted a regulatory schedule which requires seasons to be proposed before the current hunting seasons have concluded.
Iowa's pheasant season
Iowa's pheasant hunting tradition will begin another chapter on October 29, when nearly 60,000 hunters will pursue ringnecks during the season opening weekend in fields across the state.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources annual August roadside survey predicts Iowa pheasant hunters can expect to have good hunting this fall, and likely more company in the field. The optimistic mood is a natural outcome of five consecutive years of higher population surveys and hunter harvests.
The survey found an average of 21 pheasants per 30 mile route statewide, with higher counts coming from counties crossing the state diagonally from northwest to southeast.  The statewide average in 2015 was 24 pheasants per route.
"At this point, it appears much of our corn and beans will be out of the fields by the opener, which will concentrate birds to grass areas and make hunters happy. If we have good weather, I think we could see a bump in hunter numbers and birds harvested," said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist for the Iowa DNR.
Bogenschutz said he has noticed more birds near field edges and along the roads as the crops have been coming out.
"I've been seeing some birds around on my way in to the office and have been getting a few phone calls from around the state from people also seeing birds," he said. "The birds are here; we need hunters to return."  
Iowa's pheasant population could sustain a harvest of 500,000 roosters, but it will not reach that level until there are 90,000 hunters afield. In 2015, some 55,000 hunters harvested 270,000 Iowa roosters.
Hunters can read the August roadside survey, review hunting regulations, buy a license and find a place to hunt online at
Pheasant hunting regulations unchanged
Regulations covering pheasant hunting are unchanged from last year – there is a limit of three roosters per day, 12 roosters in possession, and hunters are required to wear one piece of solid blaze orange clothing. If hunting public land, be sure to check if steel shot is required. If cleaning the birds in the field, be sure to leave the head, fully feathered wing or leg attached while transporting the bird home.
Iowa's youth enjoy special pheasant season Oct. 22-23
Iowa's young hunters will get to experience the first cackle and flush of the year during the youth only pheasant season Oct. 22-23.
The residents-only youth season gives Iowans age 15 and younger the opportunity to hunt for rooster pheasants without purchasing a license, habitat fee or taking hunter education. Youths must hunt under direct supervision of an adult age 18 or older that has a valid hunting license and habitat fee.
Special youth only seasons allows young hunters an opportunity for success without pressure or competition from other hunters. Only the youth are allowed shoot pheasants and they may bag one rooster per day.
Quail population highest in 27 years
Iowa's quail population is its highest since 1989 after experiencing increases again across south central and southwest Iowa this year.
"This is the best opportunity we've had to hunt quail in 27 years," Bogenschutz said.  "For anyone who has ever had an interest in quail or who hasn't hunted quail recently, this is the year to go."
In 1989, 80,000 hunters harvested 400,000 quail. In 2015, 10,000 hunters shot 28,000 quail. 
Quail population information is also included in the August roadside survey for hunters wanting to give quail hunting a try. Quail season begins October 29.
Quail on the rise in Iowa
The northern bobwhite quail is the most extensively studied game bird on the planet, per the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. A North American native, their range stretches from the Atlantic Coast to Colorado and from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes—but they've struggled throughout that range due to habitat changes. 
In Iowa, they've particularly struggled with changes in agriculture. Bobwhite quail are social, ground-dwelling birds that eat insects and seeds, flourishing in disturbed fields with shrubby cover. Before Iowa's settlement, this habitat wasn't terribly common—quail lived in patches of recently-burned prairies and oak savannas. As settlement progressed, farm fields became perfect bobwhite habitat thanks to ample row spacing, lack of pesticides and the occasional fire—leading to a booming state population.
But as farming expanded and modernized, the norm became tighter rows, more pesticides, insect-re


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Copyrights Bird Dog & Retriever News December 2016
Do not reproduce or retransmit in any form, and we surf the web, we'll find you.
Maintained by Dennis Guldan e-mail
Bird Dog & Retriever News, PO Box 120089, New Brighton, MN 55112,
Phone 612-868-9169 Adv deadline 1st of the month prior to the issue.