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Le Mars chosen for top 25 for pheasant hunting

Thursday, August 9, 2012

One of the best locations for pheasant hunters to begin a quest for birds this fall is Le Mars.

That's the view of Pheasants Forever Online Editor Anthony Hauck who chose Le Mars as one of the 25 best pheasant hunting towns in America.

Hauck's choices are published in the latest issue of the Pheasants Forever magazine, which is a 2012 pheasant hunting preview.

"Plymouth County and the northwest corner of Iowa currently provide the best pheasant hunting opportunities in the Hawkeye State," Hauck wrote.

He selected Le Mars and the 24 pheasant hunting towns based on factors such as pheasant counts in the area, the number of pheasants harvested each year and lodging for hunters who travel.

Another northwest Iowa location, Okoboji, is on Hauck's list of best hunting towns as a place to "base a freelance pheasant hunt."

For hunters staying in Okoboji, there are 40,000 acres of public hunting pheasant habitat in Clay, Dickinson, Emmet and Palo Alto counties, according to Hauck.

The economic impact of hunting includes everything from purchases of ammunition to gasoline for vehicles, according to Le Mars Convention and Visitors Bureau Manager Jessica Lingren.

Lingren is a district leader for the Travel Federation of Iowa which focuses on growing Iowa's tourism industry.

She said one of the 2012 initiatives of the Travel Federation of Iowa has been to look the impact of outdoor recreation such as hunters for potential tourism marketing.

"The economic impact for communities they are hunting around is huge," Lingren said.

On average, hunters spend $400 a year per acre of hunting ground in Iowa, Lingren said. citing Iowa Tourism Office data.

When Hauck considered cities for the 25 best pheasant hunting towns in the United States, he also looked at acres of accessible public hunting land.

The opportunities for pheasant hunting have increased in Plymouth County.

The Herb and Eileen Kohler Family Wildlife area is the Plymouth County Chapter of Pheasants Forever's most recent effort to offer more acres for public hunting.

The untilled pasture land north of Remsen was used for public hunting for the first time last fall.

The largest tract of public land for hunting is Five Ridge Prairie in western Plymouth County.

Five Ridge Prairie, 15561 260th St., Westfield, spans more than 900 acres.

The Plymouth County Conservation Board may expand Five Ridge Prairie with an 80-acre addition, depending on the outcome of land negotiations and a request for grant money.

The Plymouth County Conservation Board also offers several public hunting locations:

* Southeast Wildwood Park, 41564 310th Street, Kingsley

* Millsite River Access, 10001 Highway 3, Westfield

* O'Brien Prairie, 26211 Noble Ave., Le Mars

* E.C. Lippke Wetland, 11132 240th St., Westfield

* Meadow Wildlife Area, 45597 140th St., Remsen

* Boyds Bend, 13469 Highway 12, Akron

* Birkleys Bend, 26779 Highway 12, Westfield

* Big Sioux Park, 14241 Highway 12, Akron

* Hillview Recreation Area, 25601 C-60, Hinton

The pheasant destinations Hauck evaluated for the top 25 list also include consideration of local Pheasants Forever chapter activities.

As an example, the Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter hired Randy Phelan as a Farm Bill biologist who works with area landowners to implement habitat programs supported by Pheasants Forever.

The chapter effort is also supported through Pheasants Forever chapters in Sioux, Woodbury and Cherokee counties.

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