AUSTIN, Minn. - The Minnesota Governor's Pheasant Hunting Opener is underway in Austin and KIMT is learning why it just might be the best city for this year's event.
Scott Roemhildt is an avid pheasant hunter and also is the Southern Regional Director with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
He said based on the recent index count, the pheasant population statewide is down 17% from last year. He said this is because of a bad winter and a harsh habitat.
"With all the snow, the ice, the cold, that's very, very tough on pheasants," Roemhildt said. "We also had very, very bad weather during the nesting season with all the rain.
But there is some good news for the Austin area.
"In south central Minnesota, east central Minnesota, pheasant numbers, the index actually is up double digits," Roemhildt said.
While pheasant numbers are up locally and down statewide, he said people should take the data with a grain of salt.
"People shouldn't get discouraged by the numbers. That pheasant index, whether it's up a little down a little...what it comes down to is just getting out and enjoying the outdoors. There's always going to be pheasants for someone out there pheasant hunting," Roemhildt said.
The MN DNR is also expecting hunters this weekend will see younger birds. Roemhildt said this is because June floods may have washed away pheasant nests. The birds then nested again in later months.