Best hunting spots southwest of Aberdeen

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Greg Liebel has been a pheasant hunting guide for East River Guide Service for more than 20 years. He’s seen bonanza years — when there have been plenty of pheasants — and other years in which the population was down. That was the case 12 years ago, he said, and some hunters have never seen the years where the population was down.

“The only way it’s going to be guaranteed is at a preserve,” Liebel said. “When you’re hunting the wide open spaces, it’s not a guaranteed thing.”

Liebel said he hasn’t had the opportunity to get a good feel for what this year’s hunt will bring since crops are still in the ground, but he anticipates getting a better picture as harvest continues.

Of all his hunting parties who have booked this year, Liebel said, he’s only had one group call and ask what the bird numbers look like and he wasn’t able to give them a definite answer.

“Everyone else is still booking hunts and not thinking twice about it,” he said.

Liebel said last year, a decrease in the pheasant population was predicted, and they experienced one of their best seasons.

“I hope it isn’t as bad as they’re saying,” he said.

With this year’s decrease in the pheasant population, Brown County Conservation Officer Nick Cochran said hunters may need to invest more time in the field to get the roosters, but those that put in the time in the right places should have a successful hunt.

“Right now, north of Aberdeen 10 to 15 miles, you just don’t see the pheasants we used to,” Cochran said.

High waters the past four years have diminished the pheasant numbers along the James River, he said, but officials are seeing a good number of pheasants southwest of Aberdeen in designated game production areas.

Some federal property is adjacent to some of those areas, and Cochran said, with the government shutdown, those areas will be closed to hunters. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “all activities will be canceled on federal lands and public buildings until the government reopens. This includes hunting and fishing activities on public lands.”

Although the estimated pheasant population is lower this year, Cochran said hunters who put in their time and are willing to hunt for the day will see birds. Those who face a challenge, he said, are hunters who are just looking to go out for a couple hours. Calls to Aberdeen hotels reveal that hunters are not canceling their reservations.

Five game production areas are located in the Aberdeen area.

Casanova Game Production Area

Located 6 miles west and 2 miles south Aberdeen, this 640-acre game production area features several food plots, tree belts and a good permanent habitat.

Jilek-Dahme Game Production Area

This game production area is 6 miles west, 1 mile north and 2½ miles west of Warner. It spans 54 acres but is also adjacent to a larger waterfowl production area.

Shaner Game Production Area

This 320-acre hunting spot is ¼ of a mile east of Mina in Edmunds County.

Scatterwood Game Production Area

This 334-acre parcel is 1 mile west, 13 miles south, 1 mile east and another mile south of Mina in Edmunds county.

Mansfield Slough Game Production Area

This Spink County hunting area spans 501 acres and is ½ mile east of Mansfield.

Youth pheasant season

Through Wednesday on private and public land

Hunting times: 10 a.m. to sunset

Daily limit 3, possession limit 15 after five days

Resident-only pheasant season

Saturday through Oct. 14

Public lands only

Daily limit 3, possession limit 9 after the third day

Hunting times: Noon to sunset

Pheasant season

Oct. 19-Jan. 5

Hunting times: noon to sunset through Oct. 25 then 10 a.m. to sunset through Jan. 5

Daily limit 3, possession limit 15 after the fifth day of the season

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Jeff Natalie-Lees and MCT Information Services contributed to this report.