Nick Martin’s quest to bag a pheasant in Iowa’s 99 counties

A hunter from Cedar Rapids, Iowa says he’s doing his own version of the Grassley 99-county tour as he continues his quest to harvest a rooster pheasant in every county in the state.

Nick Martin, also known as the Iowa Bird Chaser, tells Brownfield he began his 99-county pheasant hunting challenge back in the fall of 2020, and he only hunts on public land.

“I grew up being a pheasant hunter,” he said. “It just got to a point when I got my first pup that I knew where to find birds and was looking for a new way to challenge myself without having to travel outside of the state and spend a bunch of money on out-of-state licenses, hotels, and things like that.”

Martin was up to 25 counties completed in mid-December and expects the challenge to take 7-to-8 years.

“Hopefully it doesn’t go much longer than that,” he said. “But we’re up against a lot of variables as far as bird numbers, habitat in different counties, and just year-to-year things going up and down. And then of course just how the dog is feeling and how you are feeling.”

While the travel hunting has been fun, Martin says he’s also made many new friendships along the way.

“I just got bag from a trip with a great group of guys. They were helping me get a bird by walking around with their dogs and my dog, but at the same time I was exposing them to what the Iowa public lands have to offer.”

“Crawford County,” he continued, “was my most memorable so far this year. I was able to get that bird after hunting for about a day and a half. When you put in that much time, legwork, and miles – it was about 10 or 12 miles – one of the guys said he got goosebumps and that he had never been so excited for somebody to shoot a pheasant in his life. It was super rewarding for those guys to be able to help me to experience that.”

Martin says people can follow his journey by following the Iowa Bird Chaser on Instagram.

Listen to Martin’s full interview below on the latest episode of Brownfield’s Outdoor Adventures radio program.

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