The North Dakota Game and Fish just finished up their roadside brood counts and it's good news for upland game hunters.  Pheasants are up statewide.  That's the good news.  Last season was very difficult for pheasant hunters.  You might remember, many portions of "rooster" country received 17 plus inches of snow on the Pheasant opener.  Although the snow eventually melted, the crops didn't come off until very late in the season.  In some cases, they didn't come off at all.  There was instances were hundreds of pheasants were sitting in uncut cornfields for most of the day.  Making hunting them very difficult.

Things are much different as we head into Fall 2020.  Much of central and parts of western North Dakota are in drought conditions.  Harvest is on schedule for most of the state.  You can expect bean and corn fields to come off in a more timely manner.  This will give the birds less places to hide and should provide better hunting.

According to an article on the North Dakota Game and Fish website, the total pheasants observed per 100 miles are up 38% from last year, but 14% below the 10-year average.  Broods per 100 miles are up 30% from last year and 16% below the 10-year average. The final summary is based on 275 survey runs made along 100 brood routes across North Dakota.  Overall, the birds are still recovering from the drought of 2017.

The Southwest part of the state, known as "the traditional" pheasant hot spot had a nice increase.  The survey showed eight broods and 70 pheasants per 100 miles, up from six broods and 41 pheasants in 2019. Average brood size was six chicks.  Southeast North Dakota showed a slight decrease in pheasants observed and brood size.  Northwest North Dakota had a nice increase like the southwest.

Before we get to excited, according to the article, even with the statewide increase, we still have about half as many pheasants as we did before the drought of 2017.

Good news for Sharptail Grouse and Partridge hunters.  Numbers are up for both of these birds as well.  The pheasant season opens Oct. 10 and continues through Jan. 3, 2021. The two-day youth pheasant hunting weekend, when legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger can hunt statewide, is set for Oct. 3-4.  Grouse and partridge season is open now.