Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017
By Mark Carter
The forecast is good for upland birds in Kansas this year.
While upland bird numbers are down in North Dakota, good habitat conditions and just enough precipitation this spring are adding up to what state wildlife officials believe will be a good year for pheasant, quail and prairie chicken (grouse).
Kansas Wildlife, Parks & Tourism released its 2017 Upland Bird Hunting Forecast this week, and it says the hunting should be fair to good for pheasant, good to "locally great" for quail and good for prairie chicken.
According to KWPT, despite the 2016 pheasant harvest being low, the average daily bag per hunter was above average, suggesting an above-average harvest was there for the taking with more hunters. The agency is calling for a possible "modern quail boom" thanks to precipitation patterns the last five years that have altered vegetation, increasing the quality and quantity of habitat.
And officials are expecting good hunting opportunities throughout the Greater Prairie Chicken Unit with the best looks in the Smoky Hills region of north central Kansas, where populations have been increasing.
Bird hunters should have plenty of opportunities this year in Kansas. (KWPT)
State wildlife biologists prepare the upland bird forecast each year using surveys of breeding populations and reproductive success gathered through spring whistle count surveys for quail, crow count surveys for pheasants and lek count surveys for greater prairie chickens. KWPT says two of the most important factors in predicting fall bird numbers are nesting success and chick survival, both dependent on habitat conditions shaped by spring and summer weather.
This year, Kansas received adequate precipitation in spring and summer. Habitat conditions remained good despite an April 29 snowstorm that dumped up to 20 inches of snow on parts of western Kansas.
Regular season for pheasant and quail runs Nov. 11 through Jan. 31 with the youth season set for the weekend of Nov. 4-5. Daily bag limits are four cocks for pheasant (two for the youth hunt) and eight for quail (four for the youth hunt).
The early season for greater prairie chickens begins Friday (Sept. 15) and runs through Oct. 15. Regular season runs Nov. 18 through Jan. 31 with a daily bag limit of two for both seasons.
For more information on the seasons, or to download a copy of the 2017 upland bird forecast, visit KWPT at KSOutdoors.com.