COL Go west to find pheasants

By John Weiss

Pheasant hunters who want to see a lot of birds in Minnesota this year need to go to the southwest.

Those who stick around this region will see numbers quite similar to last year, which was okay at best, miserable in some places.

The Department of Natural Resources said its count of birds in August found 244 pheasants per 100 miles of road driven in the southwest. That is a huge jump over past years and 31 percent below the best years of 1955-64.


In the southeast, the count was 48 birds, compared with 41 in 2002, said John Giudice, wildlife research biologist with the DNR's Farmland Wildlife Population and Research Group in Madelia.

Because counts are not precise, that means the count this year is roughly the same as last year's, he said.

The DNR counts birds by driving the same routes year after year about the same time of year and the same time in the morning. Researchers count pheasant and other wildlife.

Overall for Minnesota, the count found 108 birds per 100 miles, which is the best since 1991, Giudice said. That was also the last year when Minnesota hunters shot more than a half-million pheasants, he said.

The southwest has shot back to prominence again because it had an easy winter and spring, so birds survived the snows and had dry places to nest, he said.

Hungarian partridge numbers were similar to last year, with the southwest and south-central the best places to find the small game birds. And cottontails were up 93 percent from last year and 60 percent over the long-term average. They are common throughout all of southern Minnesota.

Jackrabbits were about the same as last year and still down significantly from the long-term average.

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ARCHERY WINNERS: The winners of the 3-D archery shoot at the Rochester Archery Club last weekend were: Adult men, compound bow, Eric Anniss; adult women compound bow, Terry Horsman; men's traditional bow, Steve Rasmusson; junior men's compound, Larame Kuhlman; junior men's traditional, Tim Rasmusson; cub boys, Jake Erdahl and cub girls, Carlie Rasmusson.

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