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Pheasant Hunting In Iowa's Central Area

Article by

Greg Keefer January 01 2019


When it comes to ringnecks, Des Moines-area upland bird hunters won't be left out in the cold this year: Thousands of acres of pheasant-friendly habitat and strong populations of birds lie within a short drive of the metro area.

The north-central region historically hosts the best pheasant hunting in the state. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources' efforts on both public and private lands have paid off in dramatically increased pheasant hunting opportunities.

But as public lands have been expanded and pheasant habitat created through plantings of native prairie grasses, wildflowers and grain crops, private landholders have hit that habitat hard. More-efficient farming techniques, along with housing and commercial developments, have cut more acres than the IDNR has been able to replace. The Conservation Reserve Program has salvaged huge tracts of private land, but it can't keep up with the rate of habitat destruction.

Spring weather has a lot to do with numbers of birds. The wetter the spring, the fewer the chicks that survive into adulthood. In central Iowa, two or three hatches take place every year, and this year the numbers are looking pretty good.

Here's a look at the region's ringneck hotspots. Late-season shooting should be good at these, some of which are long-recognized producers, and some of which are up-and-coming venues boasting a bunch of birds.