“So completely has the whole State passed beneath the plow, so quickly assumed the appearance of one vast farm, that one who thus studies the Iowa of to-day realizes with difficulty the strange picturesque wildness of fifty or sixty years ago…. The whole flora of the prairie went down to rise no more, to give place to plants of man’s selecting and to weeds…. Hosts of alien species occupied the ground.” – Thomas Macbridge, 1895 [Quote from Cornelia F. Mutel, "The Emerald Horizon: The History of Nature in Iowa," Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2008, p.75.]
Iowa once held a reputation for being a top pheasant hunting state. In 1962, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) estimated that bird numbers throughout the state stood at 65.9 pheasants per 30-mile brood survey route. High pheasant populations resulted from ample habitat. Birds found nesting sites, cover, and concealment in stands of timber and brush growing along fence rows or next to farm houses, in cattails encircling wetlands, and in the un-mowed ditches straddling public highways and dirt roads. Good habitat enabled pheasants to survive Iowa’s occasionally brutal winters.