Roadside pheasant count is down 27 percent from a year agoWORTHINGTON — There used to be a television commercial that had a Carly Simon song called “Anticipation.” I think it was a Heinz ketchup commercial that showed a kid waiting and waiting for the ketchup to slowly drip from the bottle down on to his hamburger.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — There used to be a television commercial that had a Carly Simon song called “Anticipation.” I think it was a Heinz ketchup commercial that showed a kid waiting and waiting for the ketchup to slowly drip from the bottle down on to his hamburger.
It seems that no matter what season you’re in, many people can’t wait for the next one. In the winter, they want spring so they can get out in the yard. Once the yard work is done, it has to hurry up and be summer so the water sports can begin.
The impatience then moves to wanting fall to show up so the hot humid days can be over. Some folks even wish for a frost to kill the misquotes to better enjoy the cool evenings, and turning full circle is achieved when winter temperatures are desired so you can make the annual trip south to warmer climates or the opportunity to get the ice house out on the lake to pursue a little walleye fishing action.
I really try hard to enjoy the season that I am in because you never know if it just might be the last one of those seasons that you will ever see. I think that I have told you before that the best test of how fast time flies is to take out a 90-day note at the bank. In as little as three minutes it will seem that the 90 days has come and gone. The older I get the faster time flies.
I was just looking over my e-mails today and saw that the August roadside count data had been released. It just doesn’t seem that summer can be over already. This data is compiled by the Department of Natural Resources to make a general assessment of different wildlife populations to give hunters just a little glimpse of what the upcoming season might look like.
These are not totally scientific experiments in counting.
The data is compiled by driving the same 100-mile route on or about the same day every year, hopefully by the same person and counting what they see.
These routes are also driven at the same time every year as well. These personnel count pheasants, doves, cottontails, jackrabbits and partridge.
These numbers are then compared to the numbers last year and the overall average for the past 10 years. When it is all compiled, it is released and a map is made to display the overall population estimates for the target species. The pheasant hunters are the ones most interested in the results.
If I lived far from pheasant country and was planning a trip to southwest Minnesota, I would certainly plan that trip to a part of the state with the most birds. So what did this years efforts show? Pheasant numbers are down 27 percent from last year statewide and down exactly the same percentage from the 10-year average. I would have thought that these numbers would have been even lower. I am seeing birds, but the number of very small ones continues to surprise me. These chicks seem so small at this time of year that I question their ability to survive the winter if they can make it past the hunting season.
The official rational for the drop in pheasant numbers is three-fold. First, the winter was longer and tougher than most in the past five or six years. Couple this with over six inches of rain in the month of June when most chicks hatch, and this spells a little trouble for reproduction and chick survival.
The third cause that has not affected southwest Minnesota as much as other areas is the loss of CRP acres. In some areas of the Midwest the high commodity prices have resulted in the conversion of CRP grasslands back to row crop, and with less nesting habitat you have less pheasant reproduction. There is so little CRP in Nobles County that if all the CRP were lost it would not account for more than about two percent of the landmass.
Other species seemed to have shared in the population decline — except doves which were up by a substantial margin. The dove season is in full swing and reports have been very good for those who choose to give these fast flying birds a try.
Pheasant season opens on Oct. 10 and this day will be here oh so soon.
When the first shots of the season are heard over the tall grasses that pheasants call home, there is no doubt that the season will pass just as fast at that 90-day note seems to come due. One minute it’s here and the next minute it’s gone.
My favorite dog and probably the best one I will ever have, Decoy, just turned 9 years old last week. I can remember when I got him and he was bouncing around in the back yard thinking he was the coolest dog on the block. He still hunts well and is in good physical condition but he, like me, no longer has the strength and endurance of youth that we once had.
He should hunt for at least two more years and then enjoy the remainder of his short life retired either on the living room rug at my house or my dad has his way, Decoy will grow to a ripe old age on the rug at his house.
Another hunting season is upon us and another roadside count is complete.
Whether you hunt or not, try to spend a little time outside every day. If that can be planting a tree or tending to the birdhouses in the back yard, I am fully convinced that time spent hunting or enjoying the outdoors is not, lets make that never, deducted from the time we call life.
Carly Simon does a great rendition of “Anticipation” and I have some of this at times. Just don’t let anticipation of the next thing mask over the best parts of the current thing.
I think that I will take Decoy for a walk.