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Minnesota pheasant season update

Preseason forecasts of plentiful pheasants panned out for a lot of hunters last weekend when the state's pheasant season opened Oct. 13.

In the Madison, Minn., area, hunters bagged a few roosters in the first hour at the state's new 25th Anniversary Wildlife Management Area.

Another group of 10 hunters, hunting standing corn and grass on private land, shot its limit of 20 roosters in the first hour on opening day.

August roadside counts had put the state's pheasant population at its highest level in 40 years. But some hunters thought the number of birds might be down just a bit from last year's excellent season.

"I haven't seen as many as last year when I've been driving," said Dennis Skoien of Madison. "But they say there are as many as last year."

Hunting was good in central Minnesota, said Pheasants Forever regional biologist Eran Sandquist in South Haven, Minn., near St. Cloud.

"I can't say I shot my limit every time, but I've had the opportunity to shoot a limit. I've seen a lot of birds," Sandquist said. "Certainly, talking to other hunters, they've echoed what I've seen."

The corn harvest has been ahead of schedule in many areas, Sandquist said, particularly in areas of sandier soils. That probably made more birds available to hunters.