Central Kansas plus Northern High Plains looking good for pheasant hunting this year. But be sure to scout no matter where you plan to hunt.
By Marissa Jensen
Editor’s Note: If you’re reading this forecast, you must hunt pheasants. If you hunt pheasants and don’t belong to Pheasants Forever or you need to renew, it’s time. Since inception, PF has impacted over 19 million acres of habitat, and created over 200,000 acres of permanently public wild places to hunt and recreate. Upland habitat, public lands and hunting heritage need you. Join, renew or extend and for a limited time get a sweet PF Field Hoodie to boot!
Thinking about hunting Sunflower state this fall for pheasants? We’ve got the inside scoop for you.
Winter 2019 didn’t throw any significant weather events toward Kansas that would cause any concerns with Small Game Specialist, Jeff Prendergast. In fact, Prendergast indicated winter weather isn’t typically severe enough to impact pheasants in the state.
Spring 2020 brought dry weather which did cause some concern for nesting birds. However, patchy rainfall across the norther portion of Kansas during early summer may have provided some reprieve and allowed for improved cover and vegetation where rainfall amounts were sufficient.
Rain continued throughout summer, which provided moisture for fall crops and an abundance of weedy stubble fields. Prendergast provides some additional insight to consider across Kansas’ pheasant range.
“Throughout the state, 28 counties were released for emergency haying and grazing of CRP,” he says “This, combined with expiration and managed haying for contract renewals, have reduced the amount of cover provided by CRP fields this winter.” Message: Scout and/or check ahead. Don’t expect conditions to be the same as they were last time you visited.
Brood reports provided some variation, which Prendergast provided additional insight on: “Anecdotal brood reports were looking good, however, this did not alight with survey results. This is likely an indication that densities will vary greatly following areas that received the best rainfall in June.”
Statewide, the pheasant index appears to be down, and hunters can find more information here
Prendergast steers hunters toward three regions this fall: the Northern High Plains, which exhibited the highest density brood survey; North Central due to the abundance of access and diversity of habitat; and the South Central Prairies, with notable increases throughout the western portion of the range.
“Pheasant hunting in Kansas often includes temperatures ranging from mid-70s to 0 degrees,” says Prendergast. “While targeting heavy cover in cold weather is productive, understanding how bird behavior will change with weather will benefit hunters.” He goes on to encourage hunters to target lighter cover, such as weedy fence lines and tall crop stubble, when temperatures are warmer.
Marissa Jensen is Education and Outreach Program Manager for Pheasants Forever.