Weather affecting success; harvest up in some areas
Hunters and Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) staff are reporting mixed but generally good hunting for the firearms deer season, which runs through Dec. 11. Cold weather and snow have affected the deer hunting, in some cases for the good and others for the worse, depending on the severity of winter storms.

Snow had the greatest effect in Region 1 (northwest Kansas), according to Mel Madorin, KDWP regional Law Enforcement Division supervisor. "Some areas were closed because the snow was too heavy," Madorin explained. "Success was better where it lightened up. Here in the Hays area, it was a plus, but north of Highway 36, it was definitely a hindrance. In the places where snow cover was good but roads were open, I'd say we had quite high success rates, better than last year."

Firearms season hunters in deer management units 1, 2, 3, 16, 17, and 18 -- primarily western and southcentral Kansas -- are required to take their deer to check stations. Here, harvest information data is collected and some deer are tested for chronic wasting disease. One check station, Smith's Frozen Foods in Dighton, reported an active, successful first few days. In six days, they had checked 63 deer, compared to 56 the entire season last year. Many reported were large bucks.

Milder weather in Region 2 (northeast Kansas), may have kept deer from moving in the daytime. "Everyone is saying deer numbers are down," said regional Law Enforcement supervisor Rob Ladner. "I think harvest may be down a little, but hunters are taking some nice bucks. The worst areas are the western counties of our region, but there are still a lot of deer in Unit 19."

In Region 3 (southwest Kansas), colder weather pushed deer out in daylight hours, and hunters reported "pretty good" success, according to KDWP Fisheries and Wildlife Division supervisor Scotty Baugh. "It has been mixed, depending on the area you were hunting, but a lot of deer have been taken to our check stations. I think it is a little better than last year and will improve if we get snow this week. The southeastern parts of our region are best."

The Butcher Block in Larned, which serves as a check station in Region 3, reported 50 more deer checked in that at this time last year. Severe cold weather had slowed activity down on, but snow may push deer out in daytime here, as well, making them easier to spot and track.

Deer hunters were also doing "pretty well" in Region 4 (southcentral Kansas), according regional Law Enforcement supervisor Val Jansen. "For the most part, hunters are getting their deer," Jansen said. "I'd say harvest is average to slightly above average. Our Harper County check station has requested more tags."

That check station, the Harper County Sheriff's Department, reported checking in more than 100 deer in six days, 27 in just one day. Staff there report that being open 24 hours a day may have helped their numbers.

Harvest in Region 5 (southeast Kansas) has been good in northern counties, according to regional Law Enforcement supervisor Mike Little. "The deer taken have been of good size, and we are getting especially favorable reports from nonresidents. Still, I think we may be a little behind last year. Mild weather may be a factor. A snow would help."

Hunters who have not yet taken their deer may be rewarded by Little's assessment. Winter storms are prevalent in much of the state. The season ends Dec. 11, but with a weather change, 2005 could be a very good year for Kansas deer hunters. For more information on deer in Kansas, click here.