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Pheasant harvest shows 41 percent increase

Pheasant hunters enjoyed a 41 percent harvest increase in 2015 over 2014 according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The waterfowl harvest was stable and the ruffed grouse harvest dropped 11 percent. Photo by Brian Hansel/Wadena Pioneer Journal

About the same number of small game hunters took to the field in 2015 compared to the year before. By species, the number of pheasant hunters was up slightly, with duck hunters stable and grouse hunters down slightly, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources annual small game survey.

In 2015, the number of pheasant hunters was 63,350, representing an increase of 10 percent from 2014.

An estimated 76,243 people hunted ducks, essentially the same as last year.

Ruffed grouse hunter numbers were estimated at 79,058 a decrease of 5 percent from 2014.

Statewide estimates show small game hunters harvested about 243,176 pheasants (up 59 percent), 663,811 ducks (down 5 percent), and 267,997 ruffed grouse (down 11 percent) in 2015 with margins of error in the results of between 9 and 14 percent.

With the exception of pheasant, individual hunter success rates were comparable to 2014. Pheasant hunters harvested an average of 3.8 pheasants in 2015, which was 41 percent higher than 2014 when 2.7 pheasants were taken per hunter. Duck hunters harvested an average of 8.7 ducks in 2015 compared to 9.3 in 2014. Woodcock hunters harvested 3 birds per hunter, compared to 2.7 in 2014. Ruffed grouse hunters harvested an average of 3.4 grouse in 2015, compared to 3.6 in 2014.

The DNR annually surveys small game hunters to make estimates of both hunter numbers and harvest trends. For the 2015 season, 7,000 small game license buyers were surveyed of which 3,485 surveys were returned and usable.

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