More hunting opportunities meant more pheasants taken during the 2011 season, as last fall’s pheasant harvest was 683,000, up from 552,000 in 2010.
Aaron Robinson, upland bird biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the overall landscape probably didn’t have more birds, but Mother Nature allowed for an increase in harvest due to mild weather conditions and minimal snow cover in November, December and early January.
“This is a prime example of how the harvest doesn’t necessarily reflect the overall population,” Robinson said. “We actually had lower production in 2011 than in 2010, but hunter effort made up the difference due to last winter’s exceptionally mild weather conditions.”
Statistics actually revealed the number of hunters declined 10 percent to 82,700. The number of resident hunters was down 5 percent to 58,200, while nonresident pheasant hunter numbers decreased 20 percent to 24,500.
“However, the determining factor is many hunters were able to enjoy good hunting conditions with mild weather through the last weekend of the season,” Robinson said.
Birds bagged per hunter increased from 6.0 to 8.3. Each hunter spent an average of six days afield.
Counties with the highest percentage of pheasants taken by resident hunters were Hettinger, 9.2; Burleigh, 6.4; Emmons, 6.0; McLean, 5.4; and Adams, 5.3.
Top counties for nonresident hunters were Hettinger, 24.9 percent; Bowman, 7.6; Emmons, 5.6; McIntosh, 5.2; and Divide, 4.5.
Annual pheasant season statistics are determined by a mail survey of resident and nonresident hunters.