KANSAS PHEASANT HUNTING: FORECAST

My father’s return from bird hunting trips is one of my earliest memories as a boy. A Styrofoam-lined and waxed cardboard box with dressed Kansas Pheasant Hunting would be brought home by my father. To confirm they were roosters, the colorful heads remained.

My wife believes that this traumatic experience led to an obsession with dogs, ringnecks, and other visual stimuli. This Upland Forecast does not contain a map with “X’s” that will direct you to bag limits. This is a prioritized outline that will help you find habitat, burn boot leather, and increase your chances of finding tail-feathers.

“In Kansas, Saturday 2 November is a sacred date for hunters. Many of us, like myself, have not fully recovered from that adrenaline rush of the first rooster-pheasant flushing at the feet of our feet,” Mike Miller, assistant secretary of operations for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. “Kansas is the ideal place to bird-hunt with its long seasons, generous bag limits, and over one million acres of Walk-in Hunting Access. We invite you to socially distancing in our vast open fields and prairies, where you will find quail, pheasants and an escape from the chaos caused by this pandemic.

Jeff Prendergast, KDW&P, stated that roadside surveys had slightly declined from last year. However, the conditions for surveyors weren’t ideal. Overall, production values were higher. Access to and hunting opportunities for Kansas Pheasants will remain the same as in 2020.

REGIONAL FIELD RELEASES

Northwest Kansas

Keith Hughes, a local landowner, says that “rich spring rains led to lush cultivation of CRP and grasslands, as well as pivot corners.” The optimism for good fall population growth was boosted by a record wheat crop. It has been reported that large hatches of pheasants were observed, and some quail have also been seen this year. Standing corn and milo crops look good and harvesting waste grain will provide food for birds throughout autumn and winter. Sand burrs can cause problems for canines so make sure to have good foot protection.

South Central/Flint Hills

Roger Wells, a retired biologist, said, “Pheasants are found in habitat close to crop fields and wheat stubble if they put in some miles.” To save time, refer to the OnX or WIHA access maps online. Significant management efforts (burning and red cedar removal) resulted in habitat improvements for Red Hills, Texas Lake, and Pratt Sand Hills Wildlife Areas. These areas have more pheasants. Some counties in this area are seeing an increase in CRP and WIHA acres.

North Central Kansas

James Svaty (KDW&P biologist) told me that “Timely spring moisture spawned exceptional forb growth, initiating great nesting conditions, however, it got hot, dry in July, August, which will impact overall recruitment. Although quail whistle numbers were high, pheasant broods were low. Access to WIHA and CRP should be roughly the same as last season. The Wildlife Management Areas surrounding Wilson, Glenn Elder and Lovewell Lakes, as well as Jamestown Wildlife Area, will be home to pheasants, and some quail.

Southwest Kansas

Terrell Giddens is a Southern Baptist Pastor who is an avid bird hunter. He said that Southwest Kansas was suffering from drought in 2021. Walk-in Hunting Access (WIHA), and field boundaries may limit your ability to walk 20 miles without stopping for lunch. You will be more successful if you have access to irrigated areas, abandoned farmssteads, and playas. You should target small areas of thick tumbleweed rather than wading through half the CRP or going on endless treks in the Cimarron National Grassland.” Keep in mind that porcupines are also found in the riparian ecosystem near the Arkansas River.

Northeast Kansas

This area of Kansas was home to both quail and pheasants in the past. Increased crop fields and the removal of fence rows have led to a decrease in pheasant habitat. This has resulted in fewer access points and degraded field edges. Benedictine Bottoms Wildlife Area hosts a draw hunt for pheasants. Lucky nimrods with well-trained dogs may be rewarded by a ringneck dinner. For those who are willing to trek to remote areas, and study maps, the WIHAs west and north of Perry Lake should have quail and pheasants.

MICHIGAN KANSAS PHEASANT HUNTING FORECAST

As resurgent forests take back some of the grasslands and urban development takes away more habitat, Michigan’s pheasants are facing serious problems. Adam Bump, a specialist in upland games for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said that good grassland habitat which has produced Kansas Pheasant Hunting over recent years should be restored this year.

He says that the shift in habitat use and habitat has been a major factor in the decline of pheasants throughout the landscape. He says that there are no changes in this trend.

However, “we have pheasants in areas where there is good pheasant habitat.” He says that hunting success is possible if there are populations in those areas.

Bump states that Michigan hunters will be hunting in the Lower Peninsula because it has consistently produced the best Kansas Pheasant Hunting and the highest bird numbers.

You can also look for birds in other areas, such as the Lower Peninsula (basically, south of U.S. Highway 1010) and the Banana Belt at Menominee County in southern Upper Peninsula.

Bump claims that a long-running survey of mail carriers has not yet returned results. The results have been inconsistent and the number reported broods has been low. Bump states that “I don’t think it’s providing us with a lot of useful data anymore.”

Bump doesn’t know of any spring or summer weather which would have affected pheasant survival. He says that he doesn’t believe it will be a particularly difficult season. If you are used to hunting pheasants here in Michigan, and know where to find them, you should have a good chance of seeing some birds.

KANSAS PHEASANT HUNTING BEST BETS

Bump recommends Hunter Access Program land for hunters who do not have private hunting rights. These private acres are leased to allow them to hunt wild birds. He says that one of the HAP’s priorities is to make Kansas Pheasant Hunting possible.

He also recommended state game areas in southern Lower Peninsula that have grassland habitats and pheasants.

Start by looking for HAP lands or game areas on Michigan DNR’s website. You can use the interactive map Mi-HUNT to locate public land, public access, satellite imagery, as well as descriptions of habitats and game species.

The Michigan DNR has met with a variety of agencies and non-governmental organizations (including Pheasants Forever), to encourage private grassland management near big state game areas. The Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative has been “quite successful in focusing some attention to grassland management, and getting people out trying it improve habitat where it is and keep it maintained in larger landscapes.” Bump says that the initiative had a positive impact on Michigan’s pheasant habitat.

If you go

In Zone 1, which is part of the Upper Peninsula, the pheasant seasons runs from October 10-31. It runs from October 20 to November 14 in Zones 2, 3 and 4 (the Lower Peninsula). A late season is December 1-2022 in the Zone 3 area (the core Michigan pheasant range). For exact boundaries, please refer to regulations.

There are only 2 roosters per day, and there can be 4 in your possession.

Kansas Pheasant Hunting Notable

This year, a $25 pheasant licence is required for all pheasant hunter 18 years and older who plan to hunt pheasants in Michigan on public land. The public land pheasant stocking programme will be supported by the money raised.

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