IT'S ALMOST TIME TO HANG OUT THE “YOUTH GONE HUNTING” SIGN
Youth pheasant and quail season runs Nov. 7-8
PRATT — The plans are made; you’re taking a youngster hunting during the 2009 Kansas pheasant and quail youth season, Nov. 7-8. The lucky kid has been tutored in gun handling and practiced shooting clay targets. Perhaps he or she has even been regaled with predictions of cackling pheasants bursting beneath the feet. Excitement is in the air.
The final preparation is finding a good place to hunt. Although any hunt is an adventure, the chance to bag that first bird will be the icing on the cake. That's why the youth season was designed. Fields will be uncrowded, and chances for good shots are excellent. There is more public hunting in Kansas today than ever, and with the most optimistic upland game forecast since 1982, birds should be plentiful.
Some of the best places for pheasant and quail are public wildlife areas and Walk-In Hunting Access (WIHA) areas in the western two-thirds of Kansas. Private lands also can be excellent although permission is required. Many private landowners are open to youth-only hunting, so don't be afraid to ask permission to hunt private land.
Here's what Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) staff have to say about the best public areas.
"In my region [Region 2], Perry and Milford wildlife areas may offer the best mixed bag for pheasants and quail while Hillsdale and Clinton have improved numbers of quail," says John Silovsky, Public Lands Section supervisor for northeast Kansas.
"On WIHA areas, Nemaha and Marshall counties will be best for quail, while Washington and Riley counties will provide opportunities for pheasants," says Roger Wolfe, Region 2 Wildlife Section supervisor. "Youth hunters should have fair success in Clay and Dickenson counties, too."
Southeast Kansas (Region 5) Public Lands Section supervisor Lance Hedges sums his region by saying that those who get the first shot at quail on the youth weekend should have a great experience. "All of the southeast areas will have some quail to pursue," says Hedges. "I'd suggest suggests Melvern, Hollister, and Woodson wildlife areas."
The central part of Kansas may be the best mixed bag area in the state. "Glen Elder Wildlife Area will be prime," says area manager Mike Nyhoff. "And Jamestown Wildlife Area should be just as good." Farther south, Region 4 Public Lands Section supervisor Randy Clark recommends McPherson Wetlands and Council Grove wildlife areas. Also in Region 4, biologist Steve Adams thinks WIHA areas in Reno, Kingman, and Harvey counties will be the most productive.
Region 1 (northwest Kansas) wildlife biologist Brad Odle echoes the opinions of staff in other regions. “There are great opportunities everywhere in the west," Odle says. "This is traditionally the best pheasant hunting in the state, on both private and public ground. Some counties with abundant WIHA — such as Rush, Ness, Sheridan, Gove, Russell, Graham, Stevens, Scranton, Graham, and Sherman — will be good, but don't ignore any county from Salina west. Cedar Bluff and Norton wildlife areas will offer excellent opportunities."
In the southwest, Region 3 Public Lands supervisor Mark Sexson recommends Kepley, Pratt Sand Hills, Texas Lake, Concannon, and Greely wildlife areas, as well as Stein, Wild turkey, and Herron playas.
"No matter where you go in Kansas, opportunities abound for youth pheasant and quail weekend," says Region 1 Public Lands supervisor Bruce Taggart. "The only way you can go wrong is to not go. Fifteen years from now, when your own kid wants you tag along with the grandkids, you want to be there to hear the stories passed from generation to generation of the youth pheasant and quail season."
For more information and details on public and WIHA areas, visit the KDWP website, www.kdwp.state.ks.us. Click "Hunting/Hunting Programs/2009 Pheasant and Quail Season Challenge." While you're there, click "Special Hunts" and "Hunting Programs" to learn more about the youth season and other hunting opportunities in the Sunflower State.