Kansas habitat looking lush and good, re-nesting should provide for plenty of birds to hunt
By Tom Carpenter
Kansas pheasants escaped a winter pounding, but spring rains dished out some challenges for hens’ first nesting attempts. But it looks like re-nesting is going well in all the excellent cover created by the moisture … and this could be a good year to hit Kansas if you’ve been contemplating putting some Jayhawk roosters into your gamebag.
Weather / Conditions
Unlike the other “major player” pheasants states, where last winter provided some big challenges to the birds, southerly Kansas tells a different story. “Winter weather is not generally a limiting factor for pheasants in Kansas, and no major losses were recorded this year,” reports Jeff Prendergast, small game specialist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT).
But like everywhere else, big-time spring rains had their effect. “Heavy spring precipitation caused early nest abandonment, but produced better cover and extended the nesting season,” says Prendergast. There should be late broods coming into their own in plenty of time for Kansas’ pheasant opener November 10.
Habitat, Broods and Counts
“Heavy precipitation over the last year has created ample cover going into fall, and produced heavy crop residue.” Says Prendergast. “This may challenge hunters as there will be a lot cover for birds to spread out in. The heavy moisture also delayed crops, so we are expecting a delayed harvest with lots of crops standing at the beginning of the season.”
“These storms created excellent nesting and brood-rearing cover but made tough weather for nesting and brood-rearing,” says Prendergast. “Large brood size and re-nesting hens appears to have compensated for losses due to weather, with statewide survey values being essentially the same. Regionally the indexes have changed with North-Central dropping some and Northwest increasing some.”
“The High Plains regions of northwestern and southwestern Kansas had the highest roadside indices this year, particularly on the eastern edge of these regions,” says Prendergast.
“Don't ignore small and/or isolated WIHA's,” suggests Prendergast. “They often get overlooked for areas with more access in close proximity, so they can provide good opportunity at times.”
“Avoiding the highest-density pheasant areas on the map areas can be a good strategy at times,” says Prendergast. “Success rates can be higher in areas with lower density of birds, too, compared to other regions, because hunting pressure concentrates in the higher pheasant density areas.”
KDWPT provides an online access atlas
for armchair scouting that can save you time driving and help in knowing how to hunt a property.
View Kansas’ full Upland Survey
here. Prendergast provides one important insight with a wink: “Hunter success rates do correlate well with our roadside surveys.” Study those numbers up.