Every now and then we get a goofy fall when the cornfields and soybean fields are still up and running into December. This has been that type of year. I must say I have never seen soybeans still unharvested in late November, but it is common throughout the state this fall. The bad news is that the standing crops no doubt had an effect on the deer harvest as the deer have oceans of corn to hide in and the same with the pheasants. The good news is that the pheasants are starting to show themselves as the corn and beans are now starting to come out of the fields.
Pheasant hunters traditionally hit the fields hard in early season when the weather is mild and most hang up their shotguns by Thanksgiving. This is not the season to quit early. My prediction is that this will be a banner December for pheasants as I am seeing good numbers throughout the central and far northwestern part of the state.
I have long disregarded the so-called “pheasant band” in western Minnesota in favor of hunting the more obscure parts of the state not known as pheasant havens. Big agriculture has basically plowed and burned western Minnesota cover, leaving a landscape of black dirt. Critters can’t raise their young with zero cover. This trend has been around for decades. My time is spent along the I-94 corridor from Princeton to the far reaches of Fergus Falls. These areas are never hit hard, and the pressure is minimal. There are loads of public hunting land that is untouched, and there are plenty of “Walk In” fields as well. Most everything is well posted along this corridor, but a polite knock on the door will get you on because they are not overwhelmed by hunting requests in this part of the state as they are in, say, Morris or Montevideo.
The biggest reason these areas are still viable is because there is still cover, cattail sloughs and public grasslands. If you have habitat, you’ll have birds; it’s that simple!