My take on Kansas

Swagdaddy

Member
I'm a first time poster and twenty year pheasant hunter in Kansas. I've noticed a lot of talk and some disagreement on the laws and public land debate on this forum. I don't know enough about those things to comment, but I do want to share my view on the actual hunting there.

I checked off a bucket list list item by going to South Dakota to hunt this year. It was a dream come true and I will treasure the memories for a lifetime. I killed 5 roosters and lost 2 more in 2 1/2 days. I hunt alone and without a dog. The number of birds I saw in wild flushes or heading back to cattail roosts at night was staggering.

One month later, I went on the first of my two trips to Kansas. I like to hunt late in the season when the corn is down and the birds have less places to hide. Ironically, I killed 5 roosters and lost two more in 2 1/2 days. Although the kill rate was the same as South Dakota, here's the difference. I could have presumably killed a few more, but once I killed a bird in a certain spot, I would stop hunting. I'm going on my last trip next week and I want to save some birds and not spook them for my son and grandson who will be joining me. As I'm sure many of you can relate, I find more joy in my loved ones getting into to birds than me killing a limit.

My point? Although South Dakota has a ton of birds, for guys like me who hunt alone or in small parties with no dog, Kansas is a better fit. There is less cover, but when you find good cover, it often holds birds. I have spent twenty years scouting to find a handful of spots that hold birds. Those spots often change year to year so it takes a few tanks of gas and wearing out some boot leather to find new places. But that is part of the lure for me. It's a challenge, a quest. For guys like me who love and need competition to keep life exciting, this is pure joy.
 

Wireworld

New member
Glad you found some birds. I'm not having much luck this year. others I have talked to are having a disappointing season also. Guess spoiled from when one could limit out by mid morning.
Not recommending Ks bird hunting to anybody this year; not giving up, just discouraged
 

Swagdaddy

Member
I agree Wireworld, not as many birds this year as in years past. The odd thing I have noticed this year is that when you find birds, they seem to be more bunched up then most years. I'm not sure if the reason is there is less cover due to not much rain last spring and summer and the places that do have decent cover get loaded with birds.
 

Chestle

Active member
Welcome you new members. I appreciate your input. Yes, some years are better than others. WAAAAY better.

Lots goes into a good upland year. Weather being a primary factor. Even SD has down years where it's no better than KS on pheasant.

But..we go anyway. The dogs expect it of us!
 

s.davis

Active member
It would take about 25 years of perfect weather to undo the damage that's been done to Kansas upland hunting by the last 5-10 years of habitat loss. If agricultural and land stewardship practices don't change, it's done for. It's not really worth fretting about. Just kill them until their gone and move on.
 

Swagdaddy

Member
I certainly hope Kansas never stops being one of the top states for pheasant hunting!

I'm a native Californian who fell in love with Kansas while living in Colorado Springs for 11 years. Believe it or not, we used to kill pheasants regularly in the Central Valley of CA. But when they began to clean farm, the pheasant population took a dive. I hope Kansas makes the necessary changes to provide habitat for the birds for many years to come.

Meanwhile, I now live in Las Vegas and I'll keep flying out to Kansas. Some guys come to Vegas to chase two legged prey, I prefer to do my chasing in the Sunflower state! lol
 

Nugent

Well-known member
I'm a first time poster and twenty year pheasant hunter in Kansas. I've noticed a lot of talk and some disagreement on the laws and public land debate on this forum. I don't know enough about those things to comment, but I do want to share my view on the actual hunting there.

I checked off a bucket list list item by going to South Dakota to hunt this year. It was a dream come true and I will treasure the memories for a lifetime. I killed 5 roosters and lost 2 more in 2 1/2 days. I hunt alone and without a dog. The number of birds I saw in wild flushes or heading back to cattail roosts at night was staggering.

One month later, I went on the first of my two trips to Kansas. I like to hunt late in the season when the corn is down and the birds have less places to hide. Ironically, I killed 5 roosters and lost two more in 2 1/2 days. Although the kill rate was the same as South Dakota, here's the difference. I could have presumably killed a few more, but once I killed a bird in a certain spot, I would stop hunting. I'm going on my last trip next week and I want to save some birds and not spook them for my son and grandson who will be joining me. As I'm sure many of you can relate, I find more joy in my loved ones getting into to birds than me killing a limit.

My point? Although South Dakota has a ton of birds, for guys like me who hunt alone or in small parties with no dog, Kansas is a better fit. There is less cover, but when you find good cover, it often holds birds. I have spent twenty years scouting to find a handful of spots that hold birds. Those spots often change year to year so it takes a few tanks of gas and wearing out some boot leather to find new places. But that is part of the lure for me. It's a challenge, a quest. For guys like me who love and need competition to keep life exciting, this is pure joy.
I agree, I'm always looking for new areas to hunt.Its a challenge to find good, free, pheasant hunting. You have to chat up locals, drive lots of miles, think outside the box. It's a roll of the dice to be brutally honest, but its fun.
 

hunter94

Well-known member
Kansas is nothing like it was, say, 5-7 years ago. it is so sad to see the loss of habitat and the approaching new drought.
the difference between SD and KS is the constant supply of water in SD, assuring an insect hatch every year,
that and high temps in Kansas summers repeatedly stifles bird recruitment.
$5-7 corn will likely reduce CRP even more, as a half million acres is due to expire over the next 2 years.
better get used to that long drive to SD, ND, as that will be the only viable locations left.
 

KsHusker

Active member
The optimist in me believes that once they run the aquifer dry, the death spiral of western Kansas will accelerate to the point that I will get to see large swaths of it return to shortgrass prairie. Maybe the grouse will come back.

Yes - they are already doing so - lots of abandoned pivots s of Dodge - Ulysses has a # of them. The farmers that live there completely have their blinders on. On the FB KS Hunting/Fishing forum a couple have piped up smartass comments when I've made the comment before that live in that area but are completely silent when it comes to the depletion of the Ogallala...typical human response - ignore the obvious. There used to be so much groundwater and natural spring water in that area back in the day nearly every 80 acres/160 at least had a windmill on it with plenty of water. Now with mono culture, running pumps 24/7 at times during the winter to get the wheat to grow and ripping out all the grass and super clean farming they are accelerating the changes.

One wants to see what raping the soil for years will do - I can give exact coordinates to a wasteland of 30 sq miles no one wants to talk about. I've got photos of what it looked like in the early 00s and no one would even believe me the amount of wildlife that once thrived there.

About 10 -14 miles straight s of Holcomb where the road S Curves back to the east and then look to your southwest. Farming and stupidly cutting off the water before restoring the habitat did that. It will happen more and more in those sandhills.


My basic understanding is that even if the water runs out S.Davis - it wont bode well for your lifetime or likely your grandchildrens lifetime - the sand sage habitat is a delicate one that will take years to come back - wherever the land was farmed and raped with constant fertilizer and Roundup it's full of salts and the only thing that usually grows after unless it rains enough which is rare is russian thistle. Then the wind starts blowing the top soil away and it makes it even harder for the native plants to reestablish. The seed bank is also likely SOL as who knows how many years the land was being farmed any any native plant that tried to come up was sprayed with roundup. I believe prairie seeds can be viable for a large # of years - but at a certain point that viability has to go away and you're left with sterile soil where only invasive plants can grow or just get the top soil blown away.
 

Good Boy!

Member
(Hope this isn't a hijack of thread)
Pennsylvania hunter here with our put and take, publicized, released on a week day-shot out by late Friday pheasant hunting.....
(Some of you are aware of the drill) A Wednesday stocking results in a 100 bird release of mixed (80/20) rooster/hen released from the truck....sometimes down in the GameLands, sometimes closer to the main road with some flying to unhuntable spots....once they've settled, spread out "a bit", walk in and get shooting, Thursday the parking lots full (14 trucks) and pellets fly, by late Friday youre hunting singles, and Saturdays the poor working guy isnt seeing much......repeat the next week....

not gonna say quitcherbitchin because i dont know Kansas, here in PennsylTucky we cmplain about the deer numbers being down

A wild bird hunt in South Dakota, (check) Kansas, Iowa, ...anywhere "out west" is a joy and a delight to us poor "put and takers"
Your birds are bigger, meaner and a prize when we drop one or two.....
we'll hope Kansas and others are doing the right things, but in the meantime we'll be back to chase em
 

s.davis

Active member
Yeah, I guess I should make clear that I don't relish the thought of what will happen financially to the people who farm the land, though the system of modern sharecropping disguised as farming doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy about the "people" who own most of the land in the great plains. At this point, I think they should just quit trying to save pheasants, though, especially in Kansas. It's obviously a lost cause.
 

KSnative

Active member
Yes - they are already doing so - lots of abandoned pivots s of Dodge - Ulysses has a # of them. The farmers that live there completely have their blinders on. On the FB KS Hunting/Fishing forum a couple have piped up smartass comments when I've made the comment before that live in that area but are completely silent when it comes to the depletion of the Ogallala...typical human response - ignore the obvious. There used to be so much groundwater and natural spring water in that area back in the day nearly every 80 acres/160 at least had a windmill on it with plenty of water. Now with mono culture, running pumps 24/7 at times during the winter to get the wheat to grow and ripping out all the grass and super clean farming they are accelerating the changes.

One wants to see what raping the soil for years will do - I can give exact coordinates to a wasteland of 30 sq miles no one wants to talk about. I've got photos of what it looked like in the early 00s and no one would even believe me the amount of wildlife that once thrived there.

About 10 -14 miles straight s of Holcomb where the road S Curves back to the east and then look to your southwest. Farming and stupidly cutting off the water before restoring the habitat did that. It will happen more and more in those sandhills.


My basic understanding is that even if the water runs out S.Davis - it wont bode well for your lifetime or likely your grandchildrens lifetime - the sand sage habitat is a delicate one that will take years to come back - wherever the land was farmed and raped with constant fertilizer and Roundup it's full of salts and the only thing that usually grows after unless it rains enough which is rare is russian thistle. Then the wind starts blowing the top soil away and it makes it even harder for the native plants to reestablish. The seed bank is also likely SOL as who knows how many years the land was being farmed any any native plant that tried to come up was sprayed with roundup. I believe prairie seeds can be viable for a large # of years - but at a certain point that viability has to go away and you're left with sterile soil where only invasive plants can grow or just get the top soil blown away.
Do I understand correctly - that you believe that mono culture (of which I am not a fan) accelerates the depletion of the aquifer, and that application of fertilizer and Roundup (also not a big fan) are the primary cause of increasing soil salinity in areas where irrigation is practiced?
Just asking because this is an important topic, and we would do well to get the science right.
 

s.davis

Active member
Whelp, I finally got out to Kansas for a couple days. I really missed being out there. I hunted all private, in the northern third of the state, from 281 west to Colorado. Flushed upwards of 100 pheasants in 2.5 days (only got blanked on one farm, hunting center pivot corners), 1 covey of quail and 2 groups of chickens. I scratched out birds every day, never shot a limit, or even shot at a limit. The pheasants flushed as wild as chickens. Hunted with full chokes in both barrels and didn’t miss a shot on pheasants. The birds I killed were mixed in age. Only took 1 quail (missed the double). Didn’t squeeze on a chicken, they were getting up a ridge away, as were most of the pheasants.

As always, it was wonderful to be home. Bird numbers were about the same as last year the places I hunted. Quail seemed more scarce, but I really only spent a half day working quail cover. Usually, though, I bump a covey out in the grass, or in a draw, or in the milo. The wind was a nightmare every day, and the weather is still too warm.

I missed going to townie bars and Mexican restaurants, but I was with responsible hunting partners who unlike me haven’t had COVID yet and play it safe. Maybe next year. Don’t know that I’ll make it back this season, the clock is ticking.
 

akp

Member
Hunted second half of yesterday and first half of today. Numbers were good. Three of us killed several roosters. Good numbers of hens. Did as well as opening weekend. Here’s to a good hatch.
 

Attachments

  • 4393657B-9ABC-4D37-98DC-C0F96EA0A37C.jpeg
    4393657B-9ABC-4D37-98DC-C0F96EA0A37C.jpeg
    1.2 MB · Views: 28

Swagdaddy

Member
Encouraging to hear s.davis and akp had good hunts. Glad to hear it guys.

Here's my report from hunting Northwest Kansas last Thursday and Friday. My son and I killed 8 roosters. It was maybe the toughest conditions I've ever hunted in! The wind blew consistently 30-35 mph and gusted to 50-55 mph at times. That brought the wind chill temperature to about 20 degrees. That's the bad news. The good news was it made finding the birds easier. We would just hunt the places birds like to go to get out of the wind and usually they were there. Lots of hens, but enough roosters to make it a great two days.

Now I'll pray for rain for the farmers and a good hatch for the pheasants this spring and summer. Stay healthy everyone and God bless.
 
Top