Kansas pheasant and quail hunters can look forward to the best overall hunting season in several years.
The same spring weather that produced a bountiful wheat crop was also ideal for nesting and initial phases of brood rearing.
Pheasant production indices more than doubled compared to 2002. Hunters can expect the largest numbers since 1997.
While almost all regions of the state have experienced significant pheasant increases, the improvements are not uniform across the state.
Parts of extreme western Kansas have suffered from severe drought for several years and, while improved this year, pheasant populations remain spotty in those areas.
The greatest increases appear to be in the central part of the state from north to south, but high numbers also occurred in the eastern half of the southwest region and in several counties in the western part of the southcentral region.
Bobwhite reproduced successfully this summer and populations have continued a second year of recovery from the low levels of 2001. This should prove to be the best year since 2000.
The greatest improvement appears to be in the southcentral region with more modest gains elsewhere. Survey data indicate bobwhite numbers have come close to doubling in the southcentral region compared to 2002.
While bobwhite numbers increased in other parts of its range, these areas will offer average quail hunting. The Flint Hills and southeast regions will offer the next best bobwhite populations after the southcentral region. Quail in the northeast showed a significant increase this year, but still remain below the long-term average.
Greater prairie chicken populations were modestly higher this spring compared to 2002. Lesser prairie chicken numbers were significantly down following severe drought in western Kansas in 2002.
It is difficult to monitor these species during summer, but weather conditions suggest both species may have increased.
In the northeast, both bobwhite and pheasant populations have shown significant improvement this year, but current population indices for both species remain just below the 5-year average.
For the first time, KDWP offers an atlas that illustrates all public hunting lands, including WIHA. The 115-page atlas includes detailed county maps with state, federal and WIHA areas color coded.
The new Hunting Atlas is free and can be obtained at any department office, wherever licenses are sold or found at www.kdwp.state.ks.us.