North Iowa Outdoors: Pheasant Nesting Outlook Predicts Another Good Hunting Season

Survey results confirmed what Iowa pheasant hunters already knew – pheasant hunting last fall was really good. In fact, it was the best in more than a decade. Iowa hunters bagged an estimated 375,000 roosters in 2021, the most since 2008.

“Our small game survey reflected the general reports I received during the season that the northern two-thirds of the state had really good pheasant hunting,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “We had a slight increase in the number of hunters, but a 25% increase in the harvest, which tells me that the birds were there, and hunters did really well.”

And based on the annual pheasant nesting outlook, the 2022 season could produce similar results.

“Our pheasant population typically shows increases following mild winters with springs that are dryer and warmer than normal,” he said. “This year, the weather model is predicting pheasant populations to be stable to slightly increasing for the fall 2022 season, with some regional fluctuations.”

Bogenschutz expects quail and pheasant numbers in southern Iowa to rebound somewhat after a string of bad winters, ice and spring floods, but the best pheasant densities will again be in the northern and western regions, he said.

While the nesting outlook weather model offers a population prediction, the annual August roadside survey provides an actual count of pheasants, quail, rabbits and partridge. Results from the annual August roadside survey will be posted online at around Sept. 15.

Landowners interested in improving pheasant hunting on their land are encouraged to reach out to staff with the Iowa DNR’s private lands program at or by going to their local Farm Service Agency office to sign up for continuous CRP.


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