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2022-2023 Pheasant Hunting Season Forecast

Here's the inside scoop for the season ahead.

2022-2023 Pheasant Hunting Season Forecast

Conditions are looking good for pheasant hunting prospects in many states across North America. (Photo By: Steve Oehlenschlager/Shutterstock.com)

Pheasant Hunting Season Forecast 

The ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus Colchicus) isn’t a native game bird of North America like ruffed grouse, prairie chickens, or the various different quail species. A native of Asia, ring-necked pheasants were first introduced in the United States in Oregon in 1881, but unlike most exotics that quickly die out or expand so quickly they become a nuisance, the ringneck thrived and became a favorite game bird of many hunters.

The challenge of hunting ring-necked pheasants still draws plenty of gun dog owners nowadays, especially in perennial pheasant hotspots where the birds typically thrive from year to year. To be sure, there are nearly 20 states where hunters can go out and pursue this avian immigrant, but you can limit the number to eight or ten that offer prime hunting opportunities year in and year out. 

For our case, however, we’re going to look at three great states that you might consider adding to your hunt list this fall. All have plenty of pheasants, plenty of cover (an essential element) and plenty of crops to provide the pheasants with the high protein feed they need to thrive.

3 pheasant hunters walking in a line
Pheasant hunting can often be more enjoyable—and productive—in a group setting. (Photo By: Nathan Ratchford)

Kansas Pheasant Hunting

In Kansas, as in other pheasant states, two important factors impact the availability of birds to hunt in the fall: the number of breeding adults in the spring and the reproductive success of the breeding population during the breeding season. Unfortunately for many states, including Kansas, an overly dry year has led to not quite as peak of nesting conditions or success as in many past years. But a bad season in Kansas is often better than a good year in many other places.

Consequently, the Sunflower State is still going to provide some very fine hunting this year, especially for hunters willing to put in some legwork, according to the state’s 2022 Kansas Upland Bird Forecast. “Simply note, hunters are likely to find challenging conditions and should be prepared to work for birds this season,” the forecast states.

The main reason for the somewhat lower population than the last few years is the intense drought that has affected Kansas and some other pheasant producing states. While pheasant numbers are down in most regions of the state based on crow surveys, some areas experienced a good hatch. “In portions of the North Central Smoky Hills region, spring precipitation was enough in select areas to support a strong initial nesting attempt resulting in an overall increase for the region,” the report states. “However, this was not widespread and was not enough to offset losses in other regions.” 

The Sunflower State’s pheasant season is set to run November 12 through January 31. A special youth season runs November 5 and 6, and allows hunters 17 years of age and under to get a head start on pheasant hunting, as long as they are accompanied by a nonhunting adult that is 18 years old or older. The daily bag limit is four roosters and the possession limit is four times the daily limit (two times the daily bag limit for youth during the youth season). A nonresident hunting license in Kansas costs $97.50. 

Kansas’s Walk In Hunting Areas provide millions of acres of land for hunters and is relied upon heavily by many nonresidents. All the info on those areas are available on the interactive map provided by Kansas Parks and Wildlife.

pheasant hunter holding a rooster in hand
Rooster ringnecks are arguably one of the most attractive of the upland game bird species. (Photo By: Chuckr/Shutterstock.com)

South Dakota Pheasant Hunting

South Dakota has long been one of the premier pheasant hunting states in the country, and when I was a kid, a trip that far north was only a dream I never got to experience. Fortunately for hunters heading to this pheasant hotspot this year, South Dakota hasn’t experienced the drought to the extent that Kansas has.

“Spring and summer rains have brought a reprieve from the 2021 drought, which is great news for both habitat conditions and upland game bird production,” according to the upland outlook published by South Dakota Game, Fish, & Parks. “Hunters can expect to find more lush grasslands and plenty of birds to enjoy this season!”


According to the report, all the stars have apparently lined up just right for a great pheasant hunt, which means traveling hunters might want to set their sights on The Mount Rushmore State. “Overwinter pheasant survival was likely excellent, and that means more nesting hens come spring,” the report said. “We expect increased pheasant brood survival because of the habitat cover from adequate early summer moisture. Overall, things are shaping up to have another great pheasant hunting season this fall in South Dakota.”

The South Dakota pheasant season for nonresidents runs October 15 through January 31. A special season for resident hunters runs October 8 through 10, and a youth season is held September 24 through October 2. The limit is three cocks daily and the possession limit is 15. A nonresident small game license is required to hunt pheasants in South Dakota. It costs $121 and is good for two five-day periods. 

Those wanting to learn more about where to hunt pheasants in South Dakota can get a ton of valuable information on the agency’s Hunting Areas page on its website.  

Iowa Pheasant Hunting

Iowa is another perennial pheasant hotspot that has largely avoided the problems associated with the early drought in many more southern states. Consequently, those planning a ringneck hunt this fall would be wise to consider The Hawkeye State.

“Results of Iowa’s 2022 pheasant population survey are in and the results were nearly identical to that of 2021, when hunters took the highest number of roosters in more than a decade,” the Iowa Department of Natural resources reported in a late August news release.

chocolate labrador retriever holding rooster ring-necked pheasant in its mouth
Rooster pheasants can really make gun dogs work for it. (Photo By: Tess Rousey)

During this year’s pheasant survey, the northwest, west-central, and north-central regions had the highest bird counts. Based on those results, wildlife managers expect a 2022 count of 300,000 to 400,000 roosters to be taken.

“The number of birds taken relies heavily on the number of hunters in the field and the past two years saw the highest number of pheasant hunters since 2009, and that has translated into our increased numbers,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist with the Iowa DNR. “The birds are there, so the totals will depend on how many hunters return.”

Iowa’s pheasant season runs October 29 through January 10. A special youth season runs October 22 and 23. The daily bag limit is three cocks with a possession limit of 12 birds. A nonresident hunting/habitat license, which is required to hunt upland birds, costs $144. The Iowa DNR offers a very informative interactive hunter map that can go a long ways toward helping those visiting the state for the first time plan a productive trip.


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