Minnesota pheasant harvest in 2015 well up from 2014
The DNR’s annual report on small-game harvest in Minnesota is always an interesting read. Of particular note in the most recent survey – which covers the 2015 hunting season – is the extent to which the ring-necked pheasant harvest increased.
Hunters killed 243,276 pheasants in 2015, an increase of more than 90,000 birds from the 152,800 they killed in 2014. While last year’s kill isn’t anywhere close to the more than 500,000 birds hunters were killing annually during the mid-2000s, it marks just the second time in the past five seasons the harvest was more than 200,000 roosters.
The higher rooster kill also occurred despite a modest increase in pheasant stamp sales – from 74,295 in 2014 to 77,750 in 2015. The mean harvest per successful hunter was 5.4 pheasants, the highest since 2010.
On the flip side, the ruffed grouse kill in 2015 – 267,997 – fell to its lowest level since 2005, when hunters killed 224,309 birds. The ruffed grouse kill in 2014 was 301,190 birds. An estimated 79,058 hunters pursued ruffed grouse in 2015, the lowest number since 2005. In 2014, an estimated 83,020 hunters targeted ruffed grouse.
Last year also marked the first time since 2010 that annual state duck stamp sales have been lower than the previous year. The DNR in 2015 sold 92,176 state duck stamps, compared with 94,265 in 2014. Likewise, the estimated duck harvest fell, too, from 699,620 in 2014 to 663,811 in 2015.
The Canada goose harvest in 2015 – an estimated 185,012 – was the lowest in more than a decade. An estimated 45,938 hunters targeted Canada geese, which is also the lowest total in more than a decade.
Last year’s small-game license sales totaled 258,208, which was an increase of 99 licenses from 2014.