KANSAS—MORE RAIN MEANS MORE BIRDS

Forecast: Severe drought pushed Kansas pheasant numbers to record lows in recent years. The return of rain in 2014 and 2015 has helped restore cover, food crops, and insects (though rainfall in eastern regions was too heavy and hurt brood survival). Statewide, summer brood counts are 51 percent higher than in 2014.
 
With more birds, hunting should be better than last year. But recovery from the drought will require more time. This year’s harvest will probably remain below average, according to Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
 
Here’s the forecast by region in the primary pheasant range:
 
  • Northern High Plains will provide some of the best hunting. Pheasant numbers are up 130 percent from last year (though still well below average). This region showed the highest numbers of any region this year. The most birds will be found in the northern half of the region.
  • Smoky Hills should also provide good hunting. The summer brood survey was up 40 percent compared with last year. The highest bird numbers occurred in the northeast and southern tier of counties.
  • Glaciated Plains started well, but heavy rain in June and July hurt broods. Roadside surveys indicate a 48 percent decrease compared with last year.
  • South-Central Prairies showed an increase of nearly 70 percent. No CRP land has been released for emergency haying and grazing this year, so the quality and quantity of cover will be better than in recent years.
  • Southern High Plains pheasant population improved by 47 percent, according to summer brood surveys. Nonetheless, densities are low compared with other regions.
Season Dates: November 14, 2015 through January 31, 2016
 
Youth Season Dates: November 7 & 8 (age 16 or younger; daily bag limit 2, possession limit 4)
 
Daily Bag Limit: 4
 
Possession Limit: 16
 
Helpful Links: