UPLAND OPENER FEATURES LOTS OF BIRDS, WIND
Weather made shooting tough, but happy hunters found plenty of birds
PRATT -- Opening day of upland bird season in Kansas almost mirrored the predictions of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) upland bird forecast, with plenty of birds seen in much of the state but the most taken in the central, northern, and westcentral portions. Activity was generally heavy on opening day, but all regions reported low hunter numbers on Sunday.
Overall, hunters were very pleased with the number of birds this year and especially grateful for KDWP's Walk In Hunting Areas. While many hunters reported birds flushing wild, others reported that birds were holding tight, and having good dogs made all the difference.
In Region 1 (northwest Kansas), KDWP staff reported an average number of hunters but more birds than in previous years and fair to very good bag limits. As in every region of the state Saturday, high winds made shooting difficult, and warm temperatures slowed dogs and made finding good shots difficult. The far western counties of this region reported the fewest bird numbers.
In Region 2 (northeast Kansas), little activity was reported. A relatively low number of hunters achieved moderate success although they were seeing birds, mostly flushing wild. "I think that because our quail numbers in this region have been down in recent years that most hunters went west to hunt pheasants on opening weekend," said KDWP regional Law Enforcement Division supervisor Rob Ladner.
Hunting success was much better in Region 3 (southwest Kansas). One group of 19 hunters reported taking 64 pheasants. Although this was exceptional, many small groups were reporting "amazing" success, according to KDWP staff. "Everyone was seeing lots of birds," said regional Public Lands Division supervisor Scotty Baugh. "I don't think we overestimated the number of birds."
Hunting was also good in much of Region 4 (southcentral Kansas), particularly the western and northern counties of the region. As with the other regions, hunters reported seeing a lot of birds but being hampered by the wind and heat. Although birds were flushing wild, many groups reported averages of two birds per hunter, higher than most years.
Region 5 (southeast Kansas) saw the lowest hunting pressure, largely because this area of the state is not pheasant country. Lots of wind and low hunter numbers characterized the opening in the southeast. Some hunters reported seeing good numbers of quail, however. On the positive side, this is the one region of the state that conducted a road check station, providing a true measure of the success rate for areas where hunters had been more concentrated in the west but were now traveling to their homes in the east.
"We checked a lot of happy hunters," said Mike Little, Region 5 Law Enforcement Division supervisor. "We inspected 783 pheasants and 84 quail. That's a pheasant success rate of 2.32 birds per hunter." This is one of the highest bag averages in many years.
With cooler weather yet to come, and perhaps snow in December and January, Kansas hunters can expect good bird hunting throughout the winter.