Drought could affect pheasant season in North Dakota

Published: Jun. 12, 2017 at 4:18 PM CDT
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Without much rain, pheasant nesting habitat could be in danger, which means populations could take a hit.

With peak hatching season just about a week away, mother pheasants could really use some rain.

The pop of a shotgun is a sound pheasant hunters love to hear.

"Families are brought back together that maybe have spread throughout the United States or elsewhere in North Dakota. It brings them all back together," said Darryl Howard, HH Guns.

But with rain refusing to fall on pheasant habitats in the state...

"We're in for trouble," said Howard.

"There's some pretty dry spots in North Dakota that if things continue to stay dry, it definitely could have an impact as far as the number of pheasants on the landscape come this fall," said Jeb Williams, Wildlife Division chief.

Howard says the biggest hit to his business would come in ammunition. With fewer birds, hunters would need fewer cartridges to shoot them.

Williams says it's unclear if the pheasant population has dropped yet, but these next few weeks are critical.

"Getting a chick raised to adult stage sometimes can be challenging enough, if you throw dry conditions on top of that, generally you're going to be reducing the amount of cover and habitat out there that protects those birds," said Williams.

So Williams and Howard are both looking to the skies, hoping rain falls soon for the sake of the pheasants.

Williams said the rooster population did well during this past tough winter. He says Game and Fish is surveying the hen population to get a full outlook on the statewide population.