State Wildlife Officers Project Below-Average Pheasant Hunting Season

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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The hunt for pheasants is a thrill for Missouri's Larry Pruitt, but it's the hunt for memories that brings him back.

"I don't care if I get anything, it's just (the memory of) going out with grandpa," Pruitt said. "You get to where grandpa's not around so you still try and relive that stuff and take your kids."

He'll do just that, in about a month, when he returns to Kansas to take his 9-year-old daughter hunting for the first time.

"It's going to be exciting. We just got her a 410 and she just shot it a couple of weeks ago and she really enjoyed it," Pruitt said. "It's got a little kick to it yet."

He's one of many hunters who say the projected down-year for pheasants and quail won't keep them out of the hunt.

State wildlife officers released their projections for the season this week.

"There are some bright spots in northwest and north-central Kansas but overall our populations are going to be down from historical figures," said Marc Murrell with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Tourism.

This is the second year in a row the numbers have been down since the record numbers in 2010.

The pheasant and quail hunting season begins November 10. Quail numbers are also down but have not taken the same hit as pheasants.

Murrell says the hardest hit region this year, in terms of pheasants, has been southwest Kansas. Breeding populations there were already down last year by 75 percent going into, what turned out to be, a rough nesting season.

"We had one of the earliest wheat harvests on record this year. That really causes some problems for nesting the young broods, they can't get out of the way of the combines," Murrell said.

The drought this year only compunded the problem across the state. All counties in Kansas were opened to Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) emergency haying and grazing which further diminished the habitat.

"That's pretty much three strikes for pheasants," Murrell said.

But he says the good news is it only takes about a year or two of good conditions for the pheasant population to rebound. And he says there are still plenty of birds to go around this year.

"There are going to be guys that'll go out and find birds, it's just going to be a little tougher you know," Murrell said.

Pruitt says he's willing to take a shot so he can enjoy the company and make new memories.

"People are getting excited about it and the weather is starting to change," Pruitt said. "You get that urge to go out."

For a link to the full report, including the projected best hunting areas for each kind of upland bird, please visit:

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