Opening Weekend in Kansas

akp

Active member
I was watching an old home movie from our trip in 2004. Four of us killed almost 40 birds opening weekend. We quit hunting after one field on that Monday morning. All in Pawnee and Edwards Co and all on WIHA. Fast forward to present day.... hunting all private corners. Since 2018, we kill around 10 every opening weekend (with 5 of us). My how things have changed.
 
From the KDWP pheasant population map, the counties I hunted are in the heart of the range.
I have no regrets about the trip—the weather was perfect (maybe a little warm on Tuesday) and the habitat looked great, with grass up to my armpits in some places. I got to see a lunar eclipse and visit many of my favorite places (I highly recommend the bierock & American Wheat at Gellas/Lb Brewing in Hays!) But I did way more “armed hiking” than hunting. I’m grateful for the opportunity and glad to see what I’ve seen and for all the experiences I’ve had. It’s just time for me to shut it down
Unfortunately that map hasn’t changed in 25 years. No longer really relevant. Check out the brood map. It’s not very good this year.
 

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s.davis

Active member
In my pretty extensive experience hunting pheasants and bobwhites in Kansas, the brood maps are not particularly useful/accurate.
 
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KsHusker

Active member
We did have the SD discussion on the drive home:) I've only been once and he's never been. May be something we do next year.

What's sad is just 10-15 yrs ago I'm guessing many parts (or VASTLY MORE OF IT) was similar to SD - of course depending on where you were at -- SD you can't get into quail - many places I'd go in the late 90s early 00's into 2010 a guy had a damn good chance at a limit of quail and roosters if you could shoot -- now not so much -- KS had a good thing and we are not getting it back unless farming practice changes which I doubt as there are too many brainwashed dirt heads and habitat changes and is not as fragmented. Didnt think I'd see it change so quickly and drastically.
 

KansasGsp

Active member
I agree Husker. Been hunting SW Kansas and South Dakota for 20 years now (South Dakota every other year) and in the early 00's I'd tell people that SW Kansas was just as good as South Dakota. Now with that being said, I was hunting private ground in Kansas and public in South Dakota. My hunting buddies and I were just talking the other day. Back in the mid 2000's we shot a 12 man limit (in SW Kansas) by 2 pm and was back having turkey lunch at 2:30! Sure wish my 13 year old son could experience hunting like that, but pretty sure it's never coming back.
 

Kansascutter

New member
Looks like the truth is finally rearing it’s ugly head. No doubt, habitat loss is a major factor.

Perhaps KDWP can finally call a spade a spade. I doubt that will ever happen. With their “less than accurate “ bird reports every year coupled with piles of money spent on worthless WIHA, it was bound to get out.
 

Jayhawk

New member
Looks like the truth is finally rearing it’s ugly head. No doubt, habitat loss is a major factor.

Perhaps KDWP can finally call a spade a spade. I doubt that will ever happen. With their “less than accurate “ bird reports every year coupled with piles of money spent on worthless WIHA, it was bound to get out.
On one level, I almost feel bad for them. With the Brownback-era budget cuts gutting state finances, they almost have to keep up the charade to stay funded. But I think Kansans also ought to ask for a better accounting of where the money they do receive goes, and how. I’ve seen way too much useless or unhuntable WIHA, and this year was no different. BTW, Colorado did the same thing when I was stationed there—they would rather sell high-priced elk tags to rich Texans than give residents an opportunity to hunt. It seems like the whole wildlife conservation funding model is just broken.
 

KsHusker

Active member
On one level, I almost feel bad for them. With the Brownback-era budget cuts gutting state finances, they almost have to keep up the charade to stay funded. But I think Kansans also ought to ask for a better accounting of where the money they do receive goes, and how. I’ve seen way too much useless or unhuntable WIHA, and this year was no different. BTW, Colorado did the same thing when I was stationed there—they would rather sell high-priced elk tags to rich Texans than give residents an opportunity to hunt. It seems like the whole wildlife conservation funding model is just broken.
The problem goes back years - Mike Hayden the POS he is decided to make deer hunting the focus - after that all the grumpy old men running the government and landowners had tunnel vision as far as deer go since that was the low hanging fruit. Towns will continue to die as a result. You can shoot a stupid white tail in any of the 50 states - who gives a rats behind - Upland birds in amazing #'s - that's something that is far and few between and most every other state in the lower 48 has slowly pissed away due to habitat loss that everyone has their blinders on about.

The economic boon from tourism for bird hunting and even keeping your locals engaged would have far exceeded stupid white tails over the long term -- as the well continues to dry up - I look for the state to bring back transferrable land owner tags and continue to mimic the southern rednecks sport of Kings business model with increased leasing.

Saw an ad a buddy sent me a link to - nearly 4 or 5k acres in WIHA - owner was advertising last year on a site that contract was expiring and were looking for X or whatever to lease to new people - Whatever - I'm a business owner I get it - but this whole business of hunting and really restricting access is like slowly suffocating yourself and dying limb by limb -- eventually no new hunters will be around to take the place of the old ones that die out - I'm 41 and I see it now - not many my age hunt anymore - A LOT my dads age (70) and his generation did - most everyone I knew were exposed or partook for a # of years -- now I'm literally nuts for wanting to hunt -- I hope my sons like it but I understand the new realities - it's just sad. Id have never gotten into it save for the easy access we had and short jaunts to expose myself to the sport -- I was telling someone the other day it's nuts that I'd expect my 7 yr old to sit in a truck for 4-5 hours to get into good bird country from the Topeka area - stay the night - hunt all day to take advantage of all the time you spent traveling -be gone for 2-3 days etc -- what kind of introduction is that - We'd walk over to my grandparents 80 acres in Rose hill outside Wichita - hunt for an hour or two - find a covey or two and go home. My dad could shoot prairie chickens a mile away and deer in my grandparents alfalfa field.

As I got older to get bigger tracts of land it as only driving an hr from Wichita, then as leasing took hold - 1.5 hrs, then 2hrs then 2 to 2.5 -- now you need to get a bit further to get into more wiha that is decent to provide good opportunities - but at least you could be home - still a lot to ask for a newbie or when trying to intro someone.
 

KsHusker

Active member
On one level, I almost feel bad for them. With the Brownback-era budget cuts gutting state finances, they almost have to keep up the charade to stay funded. But I think Kansans also ought to ask for a better accounting of where the money they do receive goes, and how. I’ve seen way too much useless or unhuntable WIHA, and this year was no different. BTW, Colorado did the same thing when I was stationed there—they would rather sell high-priced elk tags to rich Texans than give residents an opportunity to hunt. It seems like the whole wildlife conservation funding model is just broken.

New Mexico in my short experience is the same way -- Through a connection I got back in 2016 a rancher friend had an in with another rancher in NE New Mexico -- the landowner was allotted so many tags based on what seemed to be pretty sound management and when you bought the tag the landowner gave you some sort of code - that tied the tag to their land ONLY and you paid the state - then paid whatever fee to the rancher - I wasnt able to go until 2018 but my other buddy went every year since 2017 or so including this year -- this year I just tagged along - 2018 you couldnt look on any horizon and not see antelope on the ranch we were on or the neighboring lands -- this year I can barely count on both hands the antelope we saw. My buddy that had been every year relayed to me that it has went down the toilet since they opened pandoras box in 2019 -- I'll go back as it's a cool area and tag along - but no way I'm paying to hunt that place ever again - their lack of management ruined it which is similar to what Mike Hayden started in the 1990s here which led to other things declining.

Guess what changed in - in 2019 the Texas hillbillies got NM to change their regs -- unlimited tags in the region over the counter and no longer tying you to someones land - You just buy your tag from the state - then go find whatever rancher will let you hunt for a fee and go to town - the rancher could let 100 people hunt their 5k acres for all the state cared --- well now the result in that same area is there isn't squat for animals.

The neighbors have maybe a 20-50k acre ranch - I cant remember how big - some big Texas rich ranching family that has a hunting business - I'd guess their outfitter wiped most of the antelope out over a couple years.

New Mexico at least has going for it that most of the state is public land and their upland birds rely on ranchers not overgrazing and the weather. KS most of it is in the land owners and governments control -- that's not a good combination in most cases, used to be when people had principles.

I have told my wife no way in hell I'd ever live in Texas.
 

westksbowhunter

Well-known member
Ended up with 4 birds in 2 days. Not going to hunt tomorrow but might do a little on the way home Friday. The dogs and I had a blast. Never thought I would spend $4500 on a dog but it was worth every penny. I love the British lineage of dogs. So much that I am going to buy another. Love the solo hunts with me and the dogs. I was going to try and go to North Dakota over Xmas break but may just come back up here.
 
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Ended up with 4 birds in 2 days. Not going to hunt tomorrow but might do a little on the way home Friday. The dogs and I had a blast. Never thought I would spend $4500 on a dog but it was worth every penny. I love the British lineage of dogs. So much that I am going to buy another. Love the solo hunts with me and the dogs. I was going to try and go to North Dakota over Xmas break but may just come back up here.
From where did you get your dog? Thanks
 

westksbowhunter

Well-known member
I have been hunting out west in Kansas since 1984 and have lived here for 20. Hail storms are much worse now than what they used to be, at least it seems that way. Everything gets cut for hay now starting in may which is the nesting period and beginning of hatch. I have never seen this much hay. You can see it for miles. And it has been extremely wet the last 3 years. Combined with all the crp lost the future looks bad. Hopefully we have a drier summer but with that, you get 30 days without rain the drought monitor will read extreme drought and out comes the crying for emergency haying. I would like to know where all that hay goes? I don't know what the answer is. Maybe this economy will play out where crp is the way to go. I think a check in or sign in would help with WIHA, change shooting hours to a specified time like Iowa, 8:00-4:30. About impossible to identify a rooster at 30 minutes before sunrise especially on a cloudy morning. And cut the bag limit bag to 2 or 3. Then the KDWP wouldn't be able to run their liberal bag Limit commercial on the outdoor channel and major magazines.
 
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lbills

Member
I have been hunting out west in Kansas since 1984 and have lived here for 20. Hail storms are much worse now than what they used to be, at least it seems that way. Everything gets cut for hay now starting in may which is the nesting period and beginning of hatch. I have never seen this much hay. You can see it for miles. And it has been extremely wet the last 3 years. Combined with all the crp lost the future looks bad. Hopefully we have a drier summer but with that, you get 30 days without rain the drought monitor will read extreme drought and out comes the crying for emergency haying. I would like to know where all that hay goes? I don't know what the answer is. Maybe this economy will play out where crp is the way to go. I think a check in or sign in would help with WIHA, change shooting hours to a specified time like Iowa, 8:00-4:30. About impossible to identify a rooster at 30 minutes before sunrise especially on a cloudy morning. And cut the bag limit bag to 2 or 3. Then the KDWP wouldn't be able to run their liberal bag Limit commercial on the outdoor channel and major magazines.
I think a lot of the hay is going south into the Texas panhandle to the massive dairy farms that have sprung up there in the last 10-15 years. Those dairies are 100% confinement, and all of the cows in the milking herd, the dry cows, and the replacement heifers are fed every bite they consume. They mix the “prairie hay” into the rations as a cheap source of dry matter. I believe this is also why you see milo and even corn stalks being baled up.

When I left southwest Kansas opening weekend, I saw several loads of prairie hay and milo stalks headed toward Elkhart, and then on to Stratford, Texas.

I live about an hour and a half southeast of Lubbock, and I never see truckloads of milo stalks or prairie hay come through this part of the world. To me, that means it’s being offloaded somewhere between western Kansas and here, which leads me to believe it’s being fed at dairy farms.
 

westksbowhunter

Well-known member
Back in Kansas and was able to shoot a rooster and 2 quail this morning. Missed my first pheasant of the season today. Wish I was back in Iowa. Heading back on the 19th-23rd.
 

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