Pratt — In 1998, upland bird hunting season proved to be disappointing compared to the year's early outlook.
Warm, dry conditions prevailed throughout the hunting season leaving birds widely scattered and difficult to hunt.
Spring 1999 surveys, however, indicated good breeding populations were carried through the very mild winter of 1998-99.
The spring and summer of 1999 has produced a wide variety of weather influences across Kansas, with both positive and negative effects on pheasant and quail production, depending on location.
Eastern Kansas, in particular, saw persistent rains dominating the weather through June. Thereafter, the rains shut off in eastern parts of the state, resulting in drought by August.
Pheasants: Early greenup and delayed harvest of Kansas' abundant wheat crop combined to prolong pheasant nesting opportunities. Northeast Kansas appears to have improved over relatively poor conditions last year.
Although the overall picture for pheasants looks bright, Kansas has been hit by many severe hail storms this spring and summer. As a result, hunters will likely find a spotty distribution of pheasants.
Overall, pheasant hunting prospects look improved over last year. As always, however, should warm, dry conditions prevail during hunting season, hunting success could be difficult.
Quail: Persistent rains that prevailed through June caused a general delay in bobwhite production in eastern Kansas, particularly in the southeastern quarter. July was characterized by dry conditions that reached the point of drought by August in many parts of eastern Kansas.
Survey data and farmer reports indicate quail numbers are down substantially in the southeast, the Flint Hills, and in eastern portions of the southcentral region.
However, there are indications that a significant late quail hatch has occurred in eastern Kansas. This may improve hunting prospects over that indicated by the late summer survey if mild weather prevails through October.
Even if these late-hatched birds show good survival, quail hunting will probably be no better than fair this fall in eastern Kansas.
Prairie chicken: Kansas greater prairie chicken populations appear to have increased slightly and lesser prairie chicken numbers increased modestly this spring compared to 1998. In summer, however, it is difficult to monitor these species.
Persistent rains that prevailed over eastern Kansas in June may have suppressed greater prairie chicken reproduction this year.
Here's a general outlook northeast Kansas:
- Pheasant populations appear to have rebounded compared to the relatively low numbers of 1998. This increase should bring pheasant number back to near average for this region, but the northeast is seldom among the better pheasant areas in the state.
- Survey data and farmer reports indicate quail populations are slightly improved over last year, but this still leaves quail numbers below the long-term average for this region. Weed cover is good, but pastures are providing relatively poor habitat this year.