This is excerpted from ArgusLeader.com
and my comment on this is: how loud would anti-cat folks be howling if cats were hunting the birds instead of human hunters?
"For the better part of the past two weeks, the phone on Anthony Hauck's desk at Pheasants Forever's headquarters in St. Paul has been ringing off the hook.
Be it a hunter from Minnetonka or one from Memphis, the question on the other line has been the same for the Pheasants Forever online editor: How many pheasants are in South Dakota this year?
"Quite frankly, almost no one calls me to ask about other states," Hauck explained to me during a break from his phone and computer. "If I get 50 calls and emails, 48 of them are wondering what the bird numbers are looking like in South Dakota and if they should try and hunt around Aberdeen or Winner or Huron or wherever they did the year before."
South Dakota's pheasant population is big news in the upland bird hunting world, and with the release of the 2011 pheasant brood survey report by the Game, Fish and Parks last week, Hauck finally has an answer for those looking to make the trek to South Dakota this fall. At first glance, the numbers generated from those early morning rides along South Dakota's gravel roads aren't likely to make many pheasant hunters smile.
The figures released by the GF&P indicate a 46 percent decrease in the statewide pheasant-per-mile index compared to 2010 and a 41 percent drop compared to the 10-year average, but that is really only a part of the story. When a person considers that during the past 10 years hunters have seen pheasant numbers nearly on par with Soil Bank Era, this "bad year" for pheasant hunting in South Dakota will likely still rank among the best in the nation.
The cold, snowy winter that blanketed much of the state for nearly 4 months starting last November and a wet spring are being cast as the major contributors to the decline of pheasant numbers for 2011. Certainly more than one hunter stood by a window last January or February and wondered aloud how pheasants can make it through such harsh conditions.
As it turns out, quite a few didn't, which, if anything, lends a little credence to the theory that the thousands of acres of habitat created by standing corn left in the fields during the winter of 2009-10 were the saving grace for many pheasants and other wildlife during that particular stretch of cold and snow.