Early KS Reports: Not Great But Birds

November 21, 2011 | By | Reply More

(Photo: KS DWPT)

Kansas has endured a Texas-like drought in some parts of the state this year, prompting it to go from being “the other South Dakota” to “where did all the birds go?” in just a year.

But judging by early reports, seems like pheasants (and quail) are still there…as long as you can find some habitat.

Here’s what the KS Dept. of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism said about it:

> Hunter numbers were down somewhat, as well, although a few areas of the state produced good hunting. The best pheasant hunting was west of Highway 183 and north of I-70.

> Region 1 (northwest Kansas) likely fared better than the rest of the state, as was forecast. KDWPT staff reported that hunter numbers were down a little while harvested birds were down significantly from last year. The best portions of this region were in the far northwest, where some groups of hunters reported one to one and one-half birds per hunter on opening day. Hunter numbers dropped on Sunday, likely because of warm weather and fewer birds.

> Region 2 (northeast Kansas) staff reported some of the lightest hunting pressure in years although the region’s habitat is good due to rains that other portions of the state did not have. However, pheasant and quail populations have been down in the region for several years. Those who did hunt pheasant and quail had low success, although staff noted that quail hunting “may have been better.”

> Hunting success was poor in Region 3 (southwest Kansas), where the drought hit hardest. The best report was from a group of nine hunters who had 12 roosters. “Find the habitat, and some birds can be found” seems to be rule of thumb in this region. However, in most of the region, habitat is sparse.

> Region 4 (southcentral Kansas) seemed to be the exception in terms of hunter numbers, which staff felt was only slightly down. Most hunters appeared happy although they were taking fewer birds than in previous years [they sound Serious!]. Field staff reported that most hunters felt they had been given an honest forecast by KDWPT and were just enjoying the time afield.

> Groups were smaller than in most years, as was the case in Region 3, and fewer nonresidents were reported. Quail hunting in this region was likely better than pheasant.

> Region 5 (southeast Kansas) is not pheasant country, and hunter participation was described as “very slow.” Those who hunted quail reported fair numbers, however, with four coveys seen in a half day of hunting reported on several occasions. Quail have been down in this region for several years.

Here are some anecdotal reports from the Topeka Capital-Journal and the KC Star:

Northwest Kansas

> “We shot about 60 pheasants for the weekend with 20-30 guys hunting both days,” said one hunter of his group’s opening weekend success. “In past years when it’s been good, we’ve killed that many by noon opening day. It was pretty tough this year as there just wasn’t a lot of cover.”

Southwest Kansas

> “Hunter numbers and bird numbers are both way down,” said B.J. Thurman, a Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism game warden supervisor for southwest Kansas. “Normally we’ve checked 250 hunters by (noon) and today it was 89. They averaged about one-third of a bird per hunter and 80 to 90-percent of those were old birds. That’s the opposite of what we usually see.”

> “Our group normally hunts until about noon on opening day and we’ve usually got pretty close to a limit,” a hunter said. “We hunted dawn to dark and only shot seven roosters in our group of about a dozen guys.”

> “I made contact with 237 hunters opening weekend in three counties in southwest Kansas,” said a KDWPT Conservation Officer. “Granted, many of those contacts were made early in the day but I only saw 17 birds.”

> “Pheasant hunting was just OK,” said one hunter of his group’s traditional opener. “Our group shot 56 on opening day last year by about 3 (18 guys). This year we hunted hard from sunrise to sunset and only killed 12 on opening day (20 guys). We really just didn’t see very many birds. A lot of the CRP isn’t very good this year and some of the other thick grass areas had cattle turned out on them since grain production wasn’t good enough to produce adequate feed. It was still a fun hunt but just not very many birds.”

Central Kansas

> “We usually shoot 100 birds on our area just on opening day,” said a KDWPT public lands manager. “This year our total was 34 roosters for both days.”


> As the state noted, “there’s still good hunting to be had this season, which runs through Jan. 31, 2012.

> “Hunters should keep in mind that the Kansas pheasant harvest last year was second in the nation, just behind South Dakota, at nearly 900,000 roosters, so when the weather improves, the birds will be back.”

> We all know us bird-heads like hunting familiar covers, but in any year with bad/different weather, do some homework and maybe start somewhere else. As we also all know, it’s all about the habitat….


Category: 2011-12 reports, Hunt reports, KS, Northern Bobwhite, Pheasants, Quail

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