DES MOINES, Iowa — It’s opening day for wild pheasant hunting in Iowa and the pastime is having an effect on small businesses.
“We love this place, came up about five years ago, stayed in the lodge had a good time, took a lot of birds, great people, it’s a great vibe” said Carter Arey.
Arey and his family got up early to go pheasant hunting at Doc’s Hunt Club in Adel. While the preserve allows hunters to go out before the official start of wild pheasant season, they say some hunters use them as a tune up.
“A lot of people show up here in September and the first half of October to just get their dog on some birds, make sure they remember what they’re doing, and get the season started right” said Aaron Nelson.
Nelson helps run the preserve which is kept stocked with pheasant, quail, and other poultry. He says despite conventional thinking a good wild population helps his business.
“A lot of people think I don’t want wild birds, I do. If there aren’t any wild birds at all everybody loses interest in everything and even places like this don’t really happen. There’s gotta be some wild birds, it keeps people buying dogs, getting their kids into hunting, things like that. If that all disappears than we don’t have anything” he said.
The population count is said to be one of the highest in the past 10 years, and local gun shops have noticed.
Definitely an increase in shotgun sales. I’ve probably sold more shotguns this year than probably the past six years” said Maciej Hofman.
Hofman works at JT Guns and Supply in Des Moines. He says a good pheasant season means more youth trying it out, and more youth means building a future customer base.
“You start ‘em young and they kind of keep going and they can do it every year and it’s something fun to do” he said.
Carter Arey says he can attest to that.
“Well this is kind of how the whole family grew up was pheasant hunting and you hear stories from my uncles and grandparents taking them out and stuff like that and so this is kinda continuing that trend” he said.
According to pheasantsforever.org hunters should see increased population across Iowa, but the best places will be in the northwest, north-central and southeastern parts of the state.