Posts Tagged ‘Kansas pheasant hunting’
Friday, April 12th, 2013
As a wildlife enthusiast who enjoys diverse landscapes, as well as a wingshooter who’s succumbed to the addiction of hunting wild ringnecks, it’s been nothing short of tragic to witness the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) – often referred to as the “holy grail” of conservation programs – withering away the past five years.
If you’re a pheasant hunter and a conservationist, you’ve likely seen these facts before, and even so, they bear repeating. Consider that:
- In prime pheasant habitat, a 4 percent increase in CRP grassland acres was associated with a 22 percent increase in pheasant counts (source: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture).
- In 2006, Pheasants Forever estimated of the then 36 million-plus CRP acres nationwide, 25.5 million constituted in the pheasant range were responsible for producing 13.5 million pheasants annually.
Unfortunately, the U.S. has lost 9.7 million acres of CRP land in just five years and there are now just 27 million CRP acres nationwide. This mass exodus of wildlife habitat has cut right through the heart of pheasant country.
|State||2007 CRP Acreage||2013 CRP Acreage||Percent Decline|
|South Dakota||1.56 million||978,257||37 percent|
|North Dakota||3.39 million||1.79 million||54 percent|
|Kansas||3.26 million||2.37 million||27 percent|
|Minnesota||1.83 million||1.4 million||23 percent|
|Nebraska||1.34 million||895,251||33 percent|
|Iowa||1.97 million||1.53 million||22 percent|
|Montana||3.48 million||2 million||42 percent|
In two states, South Dakota and Nebraska, total CRP acreage has fallen below 1 million acres, a baseline number many biologists and hunters feel is critical to maintaining quality pheasant numbers, as CRP is so essential for pheasant production.
While another 3.3 million acres expire from the program on September 30th, we have the opportunity to cancel out that loss with a four-week general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program that begins May 20. While landowners have trended away from CRP in today’s commodity crop-rich environment, CRP remains the single most effective and widest-ranging upland habitat tool in existence. And to help end the withering, Pheasants Forever strongly urges Congress to pass a new 5-year Farm Bill that includes a strong Conservation Reserve Program.
Thursday, January 17th, 2013
This upland hunting season has been trying in many traditional pheasant strongholds, not the least of which is Kansas. “Upland bird hunting has been disappointing in most areas of the state as a result of below average populations due to prolonged drought and extreme summer heat,” according to a statement issued by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT).
“Expectations were quite low in west central Kansas this season due to a second year of extensive drought and excessive heat; those low expectations were warranted, as pheasant, quail and lesser prairie-chicken numbers were down substantially,” reported Mark Witecha, a Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist who serves seven counties around Ness City, “Furthermore, much of the habitat was hayed, grazed or stunted by the unfavorable climatic conditions, and is in less than ideal condition. Many local hunters have long since given up for the year, and out-of-state hunters simply never came.”
In early January, some regions in Kansas received up to 8” of snow, a blessing for hunters that timed it right. “We finally had birds flushing at our feet rather than 200 yards out in front,” Witecha said.
While the snow cover has since melted, two weeks remain in the season for hunters willing to give it one final try. “There are some bright spots, and for the hunter willing to travel and work, birds are there,” the KDWPT report continued, “The late season can be especially good because fewer hunters are afield and birds will be more concentrated in heavier cover.”
Have you been pheasant and/or quail hunting in Kansas this year? If so, post your own report in the comments section below.
Monday, November 26th, 2012
The state of Kansas is annually among the top three pheasant producing states in the country, but the devastating drought of 2012 definitely hurt this year’s ringneck crop. Kansas’ pheasant and quail hunting seasons are a couple weeks old, so are the effects of the drought and habitat loss as significant as previously advertised? Here with on-the-ground reports is a trio of Pheasants Forever staff members in Kansas:
Conditions in west central Kansas are far from ideal. Due to the drought, we had very poor reproduction and brood survival in the pheasant population. Much of the CRP has been emergency hayed or grazed, failed milo and corn has been cut for forage, and the grass that was left untouched experienced limited growth. In talking with other hunters, very few were successful in their efforts and the number of hunters in the area is down significantly. On opening day, I only saw one other group hunting, which was shocking. On a positive note, the northwest and north central part of the state is expected to have decent quail hunting this year, as quail are much more tolerant of drought and heat (but less tolerant of the cold).
- Mark Witecha, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist – West Central Kansas
I went out with two other guys and at least two dogs in each field (opening weekend). We walked three CRP fields adjacent to harvested row crops and kicked up one hen and two roosters. We knew birds were living in these CRP fields (I’d even seen eight birds moving from one of them into the neighboring cropland as I drove by to meet up with my friends at daylight). We also hunted two quail pastures and kicked up one covey of about ten birds. Those quail flew to the adjacent property where another group of hunters were, and I saw them harvest a few birds from the covey. The long and short of it is that there are some birds in the area (quail populations may be stronger than pheasants) but with the hot, dry and windy conditions, birds were not sitting tight, and the dogs couldn’t pick up scent. We got some rain Saturday night which may improve things a bit. Cooler temperatures and lower wind speeds would help too. Every person that I’ve spoken with in this area says they got about one bird for every one to two people hunting in a group. I’m optimistic, though, that there will be better days later in the season.
- Zac Eddy, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist – Central Kansas
Conditions near Marysville (in northeast Kansas) were hot, dry and windy for the Kansas opener. Our hunting party only saw a few pheasants and two coveys of quail during the day’s hunt. Overall, this area has seen a tremendous decline in quality upland habitat as CRP contracts expire and the acres go into agricultural production. The area has also seen a shift in the type of grain that is being produced, which is further limiting pheasant production. At one time, this part of northeast Kansas was known as “The milo capital of the world” and production of wheat and milo ruled the landscape. Now, the bulk of the farming is producing corn and soybeans. It should also be noted that a large percentage of the remaining CRP acres need a great deal of management before they will again be productive for upland birds. On a personal note, the CRP field where I harvested my first pheasant is now a soybean field so the only people who will see roosters rising from this field this year are those who have memories of this once great parcel of upland habitat…My how things change in 20 years.”
- Jordan Martincich, Pheasants Forever Development Officer – Ottawa, Kans.
Have you been pheasant hunting in Kansas this year? If so, post your own report in the comments section below.
Friday, August 31st, 2012
1. Buy a License and Use It. While pheasant numbers may not be where they were a half decade ago, there are still birds to be had. Many fair-weather pheasant hunters have chosen not to pursue ringnecks in these leaner years– combined hunter numbers in the top pheasant producing states – South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa and Montana – have dropped by 20 percent since 2006. Make their loss your gain.
2. Scouting Is Critical This Year. The drought of 2012 has made its presence felt across most of pheasant country. To help agricultural producers feeling the effects, emergency haying and grazing was allowed on conservation lands and even some public land. Consequently, land you’ve hunted in the past could have undergone a transformation this year and may not hold birds. If there is a positive for bird hunters, this emergency action may condense bird numbers in some places, creating fast and furious action. Bottom line, make a few phone calls or put an extra day on the front end of a trip and get a lay of the land.
3. Hunt September. An appearance at the local trap range before pheasant hunting season should be a given, but why wait until October to chase wild birds? From doves to prairie grouse, most states have September seasons to prime your shoulder, shooting eye and pup for roosters.
4. Hunt the Late Season. The hunting pressure drops off so significantly by December in states like South Dakota that tourism officials are practically begging upland hunters to come out that time of year. A few states, including South Dakota and Kansas, even allow you to purchase licenses that time of year that will carry over into the next hunting season. It will be cold, birds will be cagy, and you and your dog will work harder than you can imagine, but it will be worth it.
5. Dog Checkup. Most vets will tell you the number one problem they see with dogs coming into their office this time of year is out-of-shape dogs. But they can’t tell you anything – good or bad – if you don’t schedule a visit and get a full checkup for your hunting buddy. Your dog(s) do most of the work, so give them some professional attention; they’ll pay it back this autumn.
6. Rotate Dogs. Chances are if you’re traveling to hunt pheasants, multiple people and multiple dogs will be involved. Rather than lining up every hunter and dog army style, consider breaking into smaller groups of two or three with one dog. After an hour or two, rotate that dog out and bring in a fresh replacement. You’ll enjoy focusing on dog work, and enjoy watching – and shooting over – fresh dogs throughout a trip.
7. Try a Silent Hunt. Every preseason pheasant hunting article mentions “going quiet “– not slamming car doors, loading guns quietly – but what about going completely silent? This tactic is best-suited for veteran pheasant hunters with veteran dogs that know the game (and are trained to hand signals), so if you fall into this category, challenge your hunting partners to walk an entire field as if you had duct tape over your mouth. You might be surprised by what you see…and hear.
8. Keep Knee Boots or Hip Waders in Your Vehicle. There’s a good chance you won’t need them, making this a list of only nine useful tips. Of course, on the one day only a crick or shallow slough stands between you and pheasant hunting glory, where do you want to be?
9. Use Pheasants Forever as a Resource. Pheasants Forever’s 2012 Pheasant Hunting Forecast will be released in early September (sign up here to receive it)…Attending a Pheasants Forever banquet helps support upland conservation and is a great way to connect with fellow pheasant hunters (find an autumn Pheasants Forever banquet here)…If you have a youngster interested in hunting, consider a Pheasants Forever Mentor Youth Hunt (Find a Pheasants Forever chapter here).
10. Become a Pheasants Forever Member. Grassland conversion has accelerated rapidly across large swaths of the pheasant range. “What’s hard to watch is to see native prairie being plowed up. It’s happening all across the Dakotas and what little we have left in western Minnesota. I’ve never seen the pressure on the landscape that’s happening right now,” says Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Government Affairs. Join Pheasants Forever’s wildlife habitat conservation mission, or if you’re already a member, upgrade your support, and ensure that upland habitat filled with pheasants is a sight that greets hunters for years to come: www.pheasantsforever.org/join
This article appears in “On the Wing,” Pheasants Forever’s monthly eNewsletter. Read more here.
Thursday, May 31st, 2012
While the date may vary slightly from the northern reaches of the pheasant range to its southern fringe, the average pheasant nest incubation start date is May 24th. The peak of the pheasant hatch follows 23 days later on approximately June 15th. The following describes recent pheasant nesting conditions, and was compiled through field reports from state natural resource agency wildlife biologists.
Colorado - Coming into spring, the overall pheasant population in Colorado was strong, and the state’s spring crow count survey should be comparable to last year’s phenomenal showing, says Ed Gorman, Small Game Manager with the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The downside is there was no winter moisture, so while there is good nesting cover, buoyed by green wheat, brood survival could be an issue due to a lack of forbs and broadleaves to generate brood cover and insect production as brood food. Gorman said the silver lining to the significant amount of CRP that’s expired from the program in Colorado is that most is being replaced as winter wheat, which serves as suitable pheasant nesting habitat for Colorado birds in the spring.
Illinois - The mild winter should have led to better pheasant survival, and though much of the pheasant range was abnormally dry in early spring, May rain events brought much of that range back to normal, reports Michael Wefer, Ag and Grassland Wildlife Program Manager with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Wefer added that a warm spring with low-to-normal rainfall bodes well for pheasant nest success where habitat remains. One habitat bright spot is the acreage enrolled in Illinois’ CRP State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement, which accounts for 6,300-plus acres in the pheasant range that are now two years old and close to being fully established as productive upland habitat.
Indiana - A good breeding summer last year and the extremely mild winter of 2011-2012 led to a big increase in Indiana’s spring pheasant crowing count, reports Budd Veverka, Farmland Game Research Biologist with the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Road routes in our primary pheasant range of Benton County exhibited a 127 percent increase over 2011 numbers, and were 88 percent higher than the 10-year average, with more modest increases observed across the rest of the range,” Veverka said. With enough rain to keep things green, Veverka feels good about the prospects of this nesting season. Indiana is also putting more funding toward habitat management at its game bird habitat areas.
Iowa - Barring increased wet and or cold temps through mid-June, Iowa may finally see an increase in bird numbers after five lousy years, reports Todd Bogenschutz, Upland Wildlife Research Biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. In examining recent trends, Bogenshutz says this year is shaping up much like 2003, when Iowa saw a 42 percent increase in its overall pheasant count. The northwest and north-central regions of Iowa had the highest average counts last year and thus are the region’s most likely to have the best rebounding numbers this fall.
Kansas - The state is looking at a decline in its breeding population of pheasants due to the carryover effect of last summer’s extreme drought in western Kansas. “This decline was extreme in southwest and south-central Kansas, and our spring crow counts are showing declines in those areas,” reports Dave Dahlgren, Small Game Specialist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. Spring has brought precipitation to western Kanas, and conditions for nesting hens have been “near perfect” according to Dahlgren. Now attention turns to winter wheat conditions in western Kansas, as the crop serves as nesting habitat for pheasants. “The only concern now is the prospect of an early harvest, which could reduce nest survival at a large landscape scale. Currently the agricultural community is anticipating the wheat harvest to be at least 2 weeks earlier than normal,” Dahlgren said, adding the state could use a little more precipitation to continue the good nesting conditions and create good brooding conditions.
Michigan - The winter was abnormally mild this year and spring came early and has stayed relatively dry so far, reports Ben Wickerham, Pheasants Forever’s Michigan Regional Representative. Anecdotal reports of brood sightings in areas absent of them in recent years are a good sign.
Minnesota – The winter of 2011-12 was one of the mildest on record for Minnesota. “Pheasants were able to use grassland habitat and waste grain in harvested cropland throughout the entire winter, which is very uncommon for Minnesota. Hen survival should have been excellent during the past winter,” reports Kurt Haroldson, Assistant Regional Wildlife Manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Spring weather has been warm and dry, though a recent period of heavy rains and flooding is a concern in some locations. “If favorable weather persists, good progress should be made toward recovery from the previous devastating year (64 percent decline in pheasant counts).” Haroldson notes the significant area of concern is that nearly 300,000 acres of CRP lands will expire from the program this September.
Montana - It’s been a great spring, weather-wise, so far for Montana pheasants, reports Rick Northrup, Habitat Section Supervisor with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, though he notes more reports of former CRP lands in eastern Montana being converted for agricultural use.
Nebraska - According to the state’s April Rural Mail Carrier Survey, the statewide pheasant index was slightly higher in 2012, up 2 percent from 2011. Spring seems to be on an accelerated timetable this year in Nebraska, where there are already reports of pheasants hatching in the southern tier of the state, according to Jeff Lusk, Program Manager for Upland Game for the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission. Spring conditions have been warm and relatively dry leading into what will be the peak hatch period.
North Dakota – A very mild winter allowed North Dakota pheasants to enter spring in excellent shape, says Stan Kohn, Upland Game Management Supervisor with the North Dakota Game & Fish Department. The spring season has continued the trend, with mild rains and good nesting vegetation. Kohn notes that though the spring breeding population is lower than recent years, it is still above average. “If present spring weather conditions remain, pheasant populations will bounce back some, with the southwest probably having the best population this fall,” Kohn says. The major habitat concern is the 840,000 acres of CRP slated to leave the program in North Dakota later this year, with the biggest losses expected in the eastern part of the state.
South Dakota - Over winter survival of pheasants was excellent in South Dakota, reports Travis Runia, Senior Upland Game Biologist with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. The mild winter weather trend continued into spring as above normal temperatures and normal precipitation prevailed over much of the pheasant belt. “Adequate moisture existed to prompt good growth of cool season grasses used by nesting pheasants. So far, weather has been favorable for nesting pheasants,” Runia said. Of more concern than the weather is the continued loss of upland nesting cover in “The Pheasant Capital.” “CRP grassland acreage has declined by 400,000 acres since 2007 and 225,000 of the existing 1.1 million acres are scheduled to expire this fall,” Runia said. In addition to the loss of CRP acres, the conversion of grazing lands to cropland has reduced available nesting cover by approximately another 3 million acres since 1985.
Oregon - Conditions in Oregon are shaping up more favorably than the past two years, says Dave Budeau, Upland Game Bird Coordinator with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “This year we had good moisture in March and the first part of April with current May conditions dry and above average temps. If this pattern holds through the peak hatching period over the next few weeks we could be in good shape for upland game bird production,” Budeau says.
Utah – The adult breeding population of pheasants in Utah is holding steady, but the spring has been very hot which could translate into lower nesting success, this according to Jason Robinson, Upland Game Coordinator with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Wisconsin - One of the state’s mildest winters on record certainly helped pheasant survival – a much needed reprieve from the previous severe winters. Anecdotal reports from state biologists indicate an increase in the number of crowing roosters this spring, including at the state Department of Natural Resources’ Glacial Habitat Restoration Area in east-central Wisconsin, and nesting season weather has been favorable, says Doug Fendry, Pheasants Forever Regional Wildlife Biologist in Wisconsin.
Monday, April 30th, 2012
I always enjoy reading Outdoor Life’s annual list of America’s top hunting & fishing towns. Following is my list of America’s top pheasant towns factoring in area bird counts, annual harvest, acres of accessible public hunting land, local Pheasants Forever chapter activities and available lodging for the traveling bird hunter. It’s by no means scientific, but a fun exercise in day dreaming about next fall. Hopefully you’re lucky enough to live in one of these pheasant country towns, and if not, have the chance to visit often.
These dots on the map are great starting points for autumn pheasant hunting adventures, but this is a conversation starter. If you live in or know of a pheasant hunting town that has yet to be represented, please share it with us in the comments section below!
1. Chamberlain, S.D. For jaw-dropping pheasant numbers, you won’t beat this Missouri River town in south central South Dakota. Part of the famed “Golden Triangle” region (the storied pheasant hunting area from Gregory, Winner to Chamberlain), the pheasant brood counts around Chamberlain have averaged 15.7 birds per mile during the last decade, more than double the statewide average.
2. Bismarck, N.D. Maybe calling Bismarck a “town” is a stretch, but it may be the only population center of 60,000 or more with world-class pheasant hunting just minutes outside of town.
3. McCook, Neb. This southwest Nebraska town boasts a fair amount of lodging. Drive out of town in any direction, and you’ll find plenty of CRP-MAP (Conservation Reserve Program – Managed Access Program) areas. Through the program, the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, in partnership with PF, pays private landowners to improve their CRP acres for wildlife and open them up for public hunting. Don’t be surprised to bump a covey of quail either. Note: CRP-MAP lands are being restructured and transitioned into Nebraska’s Open Fields and Waters Program.
4. Oakley, Kans. Conveniently located on Interstate 70, which bisects the Sunflower State, getting to Oakley is only the beginning: more than 350,000 acres of publicly accessibly hunting lands, and pheasants, quail and prairie chickens in northwest Kansas awaits.
5. Lewistown, Mont. This agriculture community is located in the geographic center of Montana, where pheasants can be found with buttes and mountain ranges as beautiful backdrops. Travel northwest to hunt the Pheasants Forever Coffee Creek BLOCK Management Area, one of the largest habitat projects in Pheasants Forever’s history.
6. Aberdeen, S.D. Even in pheasant-filled South Dakota, the Aberdeen area in the northeast part of the state stands out as one of the most appealing destinations for public land and outfit-based pheasant hunters. The surrounding area has more than 200,000 acres of public hunting land available. Hunters in Aberdeen’s Brown County averaged 8.5 birds each during the course of the last hunting season.
7. Mott, N.D. Mott bills itself as a pheasant hunting destination, and with good reason. Contrary to rumor, there’s enough Private Land Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS) areas in the area to make a shoe-string budget hunt an option.
8. Sterling, Colo. Eastern Colorado has its own version of a “Golden Triangle” – the state’s best pheasant range from Sterling to Holyoke to Burlington. With proximity to the prime hunting grounds of southwest Nebraska and western Kansas, the traveling bird hunter that’s willing can plan a triple threat trip.
9. Okoboji, Iowa. This tourist destination is a great place to base a freelance pheasant hunt. The 4-county block of Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, and Palo Alto Counties offer more than 40,000 acres of pheasant habitat open to public hunting.
10. Marshall, Minn. Marshall is the ideal jumping off point to hunt four rectangular shaped counties in southwest Minnesota – Lyon, Lincoln, Murray and Pipestone Counties – which offer up some of the best rooster action Minny has to offer. Minnesota’s vast Wildlife Management Area system provides excellent public hunting opportunities in each county.
11. Kimball, Neb. The southern portion of Nebraska’s Panhandle region boasts an abundance of CRP-MAP lands, highlighted by more than 21,000 acres enrolled in Kimball County.
12. Hart, Tex. Believe it or not, the 37-county Texas Panhandle offers some of the best pheasant hunting around. In many of the area’s towns, private landowners offer up blocks of acreage for hunting at relatively nominal fees, some good just for opening weekend, some all season long.
13. Medicine Lake, Mont. Set in the rolling plains of northeastern Montana, between the Missouri River and the Canadian border, you’ll find the Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The 31,700-acre area consists of two separate tracts, and hunting is allowed on designated areas and all Waterfowl Production Areas.
14. Lemmon, S.D. If solitude is the name of your pheasant hunting game, you’ll find it in this modest northwest South Dakota locale, along with opportunities for sharptails and Hungarian partridge. A reasonable drive to the south and west puts you in the Grand River National Grassland, and if you’re up for a two-state trip, a mile to the north you’re in the other Dakota. To give you an idea of its remoteness, there were more resident hunters in Perkins County last year than nonresident hunters.
15. Montevideo, Minn. Getting here puts you a stone’s throw away from the 31,000-acre Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area, which is managed intensely for wildlife and contains more than 2,000 acres of food plots.
16. Russell, Kans. You’ll find pheasants and quail in the heart of the Smoky Hills around the town that Outdoor Life named one of the 35 Best Hunting and Fishing Towns in the U.S.
17. Mobridge, S.D. Another Missouri River town, the Mobridge area boasts historically strong pheasant numbers, while drawing roughly half as many nonresident hunters as its nearby counties to the east.
18. Hays, Kans. Lodging in northwest Kansas is at a premium. Hays is the largest town in the northwest region of the state and serves as a great overnight location with more than 1,000 motel rooms.
19. Mitchell, S.D. The annual Pheasant Country Pheasants Forever chapter banquet on the eve of South Dakota’s general pheasant hunting season opener is held at the famous Corn Palace.
20. Worthington, Minn. Nobles County has more than 30 Wildlife Management Areas, including the Pheasant Run 1 Wildlife Management Area, a 32-acre grassland the was Pheasants Forever’s first land purchase wildlife project.
21. Dodge City, Kans. This famous frontier town serves as the gateway to more than 180,000 acres of publicly accessible land in southwest Kansas.
22. Bend, Oregon. This sportsmen’s paradise rests in the unique landscape of the Columbia Basin, where wild roosters are the progeny of the first-introduced pheasants in the U.S.
23. Le Mars, Iowa. Plymouth County and the northwest corner of Iowa currently provide the best pheasant hunting opportunities in the Hawkeye State.
24. Winner, S.D. Located in the farm and ranch country of south central South Dakota, the Winner area has long been known for its incredible pheasant hunting.
25. Bird City, Kans. The origin of the town’s name actually has nothing to do with pheasant hunting, but it lies in northwest Kansas pheasant country, so it’s worth it.
Thursday, December 29th, 2011
As the pheasant season begins to wind down in the northern reaches of the rooster range, I begin to receive calls from Pheasants Forever members in places like Traverse City, Michigan; Baraboo, Wisconsin and St. Cloud, Minnesota. These callers all draw out their “O’s” and are known to drop an occasional “eh” to the end of their sentences. They also share a common question this time of year, “Where should I travel this January to extend my pheasant hunting season?”
My short answer to that question is to follow the Nebraska/Kansas border from Norton, Kansas and McCook, Nebraska all the way to the Colorado border. The further west you go along that line, the better the bird numbers with decreasing hunter pressure. In Colorado, draw a triangle from Sterling to Holyoke to Burlington. Any of the regions in that three state corridor should produce roosters if you’re riding with good dog power.
My longer answer to the question involves a story you’ve probably heard before centered on habitat loss and harsh weather. Like most states in the last year, this trio of January “hotspots” have suffered through significant habitat loss due to CRP conversion coupled with poor spring reproduction conditions. Additionally, the early winter weather has been brutal. Kansas, for instance, has been hammered with two winter storms already this month leaving more snow on the ground there than we have in Saint Paul, Minnesota outside the PF offices. That’s right; there is more snow on the ground in Kansas than in Minnesota to start 2012.
Season Ends: January 31, 2012
Season Ends: January 31, 2012
Season Ends: January 31, 2012
The other nugget I’d suggest is to get your hand-shaking smile warmed up. There is a lot of public hunting ground in all three of these states, but those acres have been pounded with Danner boots the last few months. During an early December trip to Kansas, a pair of my pheasant hunting partners purchased a county plat book and began knocking on doors to gain permission. Three front steps later, we had access to half a township’s worth of private ground filled with ring-necks.
One final note on gaining permission to hunt private land; all three of those landowners have received notes of our sincerest thanks and a pound of fresh pecans shipped direct to their doorstep at Christmas. Remember, it only takes one idiot to ruin a landowner’s impression of hunters, so do your part to thank them for the habitat they’ve left alongside their crops and show them your appreciation for the access they’ve granted after the hunt. It’s a lot easier to slam the door in your face the next time around after a bad experience.
And after all the seasons are closed, remember to mark your calendars and join the fun for Pheasants Forever’s National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic 2012 in Kansas City on February 17, 18 & 19.
Monday, November 14th, 2011
Monday, November 14th – KANSAS
Welcome to Pheasants Forever’s Rooster Road Trip 2011! This year’s trip kicks off in Kansas on day 3 of the state’s pheasant and quail season. After attending the local Longspur Pheasants Forever chapter banquet in Norton over the weekend, the first day’s hunting will take place in this area of northwest Kansas.
Shooting Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset
Daily Limits: 4 rooster pheasants per day / 18 in possession. 8 quail per day / 32 in possession.
Public Hunting Land
The bread and butter of Kansas’ public hunting land, at least from a pheasant hunter’s perspective, are the state’s Walk-in Hunting Access (WIHA) program lands (you can download the 2011 WIHA atlas to your Garmin). The state also manages a host of public wildlife areas for hunting. Local Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever chapters have contributed to many public habitat restorations over the last 20 years, and Pheasants Forever has recently, in partnership with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, employed habitat specialists at select public wildlife areas to improve upland habitat.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has plenty of options for resident and nonresident upland hunters. A valid Kansas hunting license is required of all residents ages 16 through 64. Nonresidents must purchase a $72.50 nonresident hunting license, except that those nonresidents younger than 16 may purchase a youth nonresident license for $37.50. Anyone born on or after July 1, 1957, must have completed a certified hunter education course, except that youth 15 and younger may hunt under direct adult supervision without hunter education certification. Anyone 16 or older may purchase a one-time deferral of hunter education, called an “apprentice hunting license,” for the same prices as a regular hunting license. This license is valid only through the calendar year in which it is purchased, and the holder must be under the direct supervision of a licensed adult 18 or older.
Pheasants Forever’s Impact in Kansas
Pheasants Forever Members: That will be today’s Pheasants Forever trivia question on Facebook
Quail Forever Members: 1,002
Habitat projects completed by Pheasants Forever in Kansas: 6,500
Total habitat acres improved by Pheasants Forever in Kansas: More than 143,000
My Kansas Memories
My first pheasant hunting trip in Kansas five years ago was squelched by an ice storm. There are better ways to enjoy northwest Kansas than being holed up for three days in a cold hotel room, which I hope we prove on this Rooster Road Trip.
Monday, October 17th, 2011
Many hunters will be hitting the fields during upcoming weekends and vacation time. While thoughts of employment and the city should rightfully be left behind, even with their upland leathers on, hunters can’t escape being key parts of an industry: Pheasant Hunting.
- South Dakota, pheasant hunters spend $220 million annually.
- In Kansas, upland hunting generates more than $120 million in retail sales annual.
- There’s an economic impact of $186 million from upland bird hunting in Iowa.
- In Minnesota, upland bird hunting – relatively equal between pheasants and ruffed grouse – generates roughly $121 million in direct retail sales.
- Even in species rich Montana, the pheasant is king. Resident bird hunters there spend about $64 each day they hunt and nonresidents drop a whopping $376 each day.
- Pheasant hunting specifically benefits many small-town economies in Colorado’s Eastern Plains.
Considering the snapshot above, as well as a new economic study (that says great outdoors and historic preservation generate a conservative estimate of more than $1 trillion in total economic activity and support 9.4 million jobs each year), it isn’t far-fetched to call “Pheasant Hunting” a billion dollar business.
Each and every pheasant hunter, whether they hunt close to home or put thousands of miles in the rearview, is part of this economic driver: The coffee at the café, the burger at the greasy spoon, the fuel up at quick mart, the evening suds at the saloon, the extra shells at sport mart and the sirloin at the steakhouse.
Could this entire pheasant hunting industry (it’s perfectly okay not to think of it like that while you’re clothed in blaze orange) be in jeopardy? With it all dependent upon upland habitat to support it, and the uncertainty surrounding the nation’s biggest habitat creator – the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) – it seems that way.
If you’re supportive of the CRP as a conservation and economic foundation, then please consider Pheasants Forever’s Action Alert which calls on pheasant hunters and Pheasants Forever supporters to immediately contact your two U.S. Senators and one U.S. Representative about making CRP reauthorization a top Congressional priority.
Then you can get to the real business of pheasant hunting, now, tomorrow and forever.
Wednesday, August 10th, 2011
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is in the midst of its annual pheasant brood survey. Unlike South Dakota, Minnesota and the northern heart of pheasant country, where moisture – winter and spring – was the issue, it’s been the lack of it in Kansas that’s cause for concern.
While Kansas spring crow counts were up 17 percent – indicating a strong carryover of adult birds in the northwest and north-central parts of the state, these regions helped the overall statewide report in compensating for drought stricken southwest and south-central Kansas. There, anecdotal reports are that not a lot of chicks are being seeing and broods are smaller.
The drought conditions are so bad, in fact, that 16 Kansas counties have been included in an emergency federal response allowing haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands. These CRP tracts are a pheasant’s best friend, providing necessary cover in Kansas year-round. Aside from a dog, they’re a pheasant hunter’s next best friend, providing areas for hunters to hunt.
But the drought conditions are so bad that these CRP lands, the last remaining shreds of grassland on the landscape, are the final feed options for area farmers and ranchers, hence the CRP emergency haying and grazing action by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. From roosters to ranchers this drought is taking its toll.
The results of Kansas pheasant brood survey will be included in Pheasants Forever’s 2011-2012 Pheasant Hunting Forecast sponsored this year by South Dakota Tourism. To receive the Pheasant Hunting Forecast via email, simply sign up for On the Wing, Pheasants Forever’s monthly eNewsletter.