Pheasants Forever kicks off its fall 2017 hunting forecast with an in-depth look at the solid news coming out of Kansas
By Tom Carpenter
“Heavy spring precipitation created excellent habitat for the 2017 pheasant nesting season,” reports Jeff Prendergast, Small Game Specialist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. “However, the late snowstorm in western Kansas impacted nest success on initial attempts in a large area. Cool and wet spring weather caused wheat harvest to be delayed and progress slowly, which typically benefits pheasant production.”
“Pheasant hunting in Kansas should be fair to good this year,” predicts Prendergast. “Excellent conditions in 2016 – combined with high overwinter survival – led to another increase in the pheasant crow survey this year and returned the index to the pre-drought average. This included stable or increasing crow surveys across all four regions in the primary pheasant range.”
“Given good conditions for re-nesting, early losses were overcome,” he adds, “resulting in statewide roadside counts similar to 2016. Given this information, we expect hunters to see similar numbers of birds.”
“Kansas continues to maintain one of the best pheasant populations in the country,” states Prendergast, “and the fall harvest will again be among the leading states.”
“The best areas for hunting this year will likely be in the northern half of the Kansas pheasant range,” says Prendergast. His regional predictions and suggestions follow. Take note of the amount of land available for public pheasant hunting in each region. Kansas is a leader in providing good access to quality upland hunting acres.
<75,576 acres of public land and 289,278 acres of WIHA open to hunters this fall.>
“Pheasant hunters should expect good opportunities throughout most of the region,” says Prendergast. “The Smoky Hills spring crow survey saw large increases, followed by large increases in the summer roadside counts. Spring precipitation created good nesting conditions. The highest roadside counts were recorded in the northern half of the region.”
South Central Prairies
<19,534 acres of public land and 62,350 acres of WIHA open to hunters this fall.>
“Pheasant hunters should expect a pretty good season in the area this year,” says Prendergast. “The spring pheasant crow survey indicated a 27 percent increase from 2016. The summer roadside survey was relatively stable for the region. The highest pheasant densities will be in the northwestern portion of the region.”
<12,889 acres of public land and 337,063 acres of WIHA open to hunters this fall.>
Fair to Good.
“The Northern High Plains, our Northwest, maintained the highest regional pheasant index on the roadside survey this year, despite slight declines from 2016,” says Prendergast. “The highest pheasant densities in the region will be found in the northeastern portion and southern tier of counties.”
<111,079 acres of public land and 170,959 acres of WIHA open to hunters this fall.>
Fair to good.
“The regional pheasant crow index increased again this year to near all-time highs,” says Prendergast. “However, the roadside surveys showed significant declines, most likely due to the early spring snowfall’s impact on nesting hens. Adult pheasant carryover should help offset some of reduced production. The highest densities will be in the eastern half of the region, where the snowfall wasn’t as extreme.”
<60,559 acres of public land and 54,218 of WIHA open to hunters this fall.>
Poor, but pockets of habitat in the northwestern portion of the region
“Spring crow counts this year declined from 2016,” ays Prendergast. “Roadside surveys saw large decreases with pheasants being observed on just one route in 2017. Pheasant densities across this region are typically low.”
<128,371 acres of public land and 57,668 acres of WIHA open to hunters this fall.>
“This region is on the eastern edge of pheasant range in Kansas and offers limited opportunity,” says Prendergast. “Pheasant densities have always been relatively low throughout the Flint Hills and the highest densities are typically found on the western edge and northwest corner of the region.”
Kansas Hunting Tip
*“I don’t have anywhere I can hunt” is an undefendable excuse when it comes to ignoring Kansas for any kind of upland hunt. Just take a look at the public land and walk-in counts in the above regional reports, and add another 114,000 or so acres in the Osage Cuestas, for over 1.5 million publicly accessible acres.
2017 Kansas Upland Bird Forecast
Kansas Public Hunting Opportunities Page
Kansas 2017 Fall Hunting Atlas
Tom Carpenter is Digital Content Manager for Pheasants Forever.