Kansas Upland Bird Forecast: Better hunting than last year, but below average harvest

Statewide surveys show a 50 percent increase of Kansas’ quail since last year. KDWPT photo.

PRATT – The 2014 Kansas Upland Bird Forecast is now available and from the looks of things, upland bird hunters will see improved populations this fall. Although below-average harvests are expected this year, hunters should see more birds and have more opportunities than the 2013 season. Here’s the forecast for Kansas’ most sought after game birds:

Pheasant

After three consecutive years of statewide declines, spring breeding populations for pheasant stabilized in 2014. The only region showing a significant decrease was the Northern High Plains. Summer brood counts show an increase of 70 percent when compared to 2013. This increase should offer improved hunting opportunities, and the best hunting this year will likely be in the Smoky Hills region. Kansas still contains one of the best pheasant populations among states and the fall harvest will again be among the best in the country; however, Kansas will again have a below-average pheasant harvest this fall.

Regular season: Nov. 8, 2014-Jan. 31, 2015; youth season: Nov. 1-2, 2014; daily bag limit: four cocks in regular season, two cocks in youth season.

Quail

Roadside surveys for quail showed a statewide increase of 50 percent compared to 2013. However, statewide populations are still below historic averages, and Kansas will likely have a below-average quail harvest this fall. Populations in much of the central and western portions of the state have not fully recovered from the drought. While opportunities will be better throughout most of the state this year, the best opportunities will likely remain in the eastern third of the state, particularly in the Flint Hills region.

Regular season: Nov. 8, 2014-Jan. 31, 2015; youth season: Nov. 1-2, 2014; daily bag limit: eight in regular season, four in youth season.

Prairie chicken

Prairie chicken populations are generally up where the appropriate habitat exists. Hunting opportunities should be improved throughout the greater prairie chicken hunting unit; however, the best opportunities this fall will be in the Smoky Hills Region.

Early season (Greater Prairie Chicken Unit): Sept. 15-Oct. 15, 2014; regular season (Greater Prairie Chicken Unit): Nov. 15, 2014-Jan. 31, 2015; daily bag limit two. Southwest Unit closed to all prairie chicken hunting.

To view the complete forecast, including detailed regional information, visit  ksoutdoors.com and click “Hunting/Upland Birds.”

Information and photo thanks to Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

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