The 2009 / 2010 Kansas pheasant season opened with a bang this year. Overall bird numbers are up in most of the state compared to last year. A relatively wet spring and late wheat harvest really helped the birds out. The western two-thirds of the state has excellent numbers and the only area where numbers fell were in the south central area due to localized flooding and hail.
Due to good production last summer and a relatively mild winter, the number of pheasants going into the 2009 nesting season was slightly higher than in 2008. A cool, wet spring slowed development of the wheat crop, resulting in a later-than-usual harvest. Because many of Kansas’ pheasants nest in green wheat, the timing of wheat harvest plays a big role in the number of young produced each year. The delayed wheat harvest gave hens a longer time period to hatch their nests and rear young. The timing and quantity of early summer precipitation also plays a big role in game bird productivity. Success of nests and survival of young is generally best when rain comes slowly and in near average amounts during May and June. Most of the areas in Kansas’ primary pheasant range met that prescription. A few areas did receive heavy rainfall during the nesting and early brood rearing period. As a result of the wet weather, production was likely below average in portions of Barton, Rice, McPherson, Marion, Reno, Stafford, Republic, Washington, and Cloud counties. Because habitat and weather conditions were favorable in much of Kansas’ pheasant range, the number of pheasants available to hunters should be better than last year in most regions. Compared to 2008, pheasant numbers will be much improved in northwest Kansas, slightly improved in southwest, northcentral, and northeast Kansas, and down in most of southcentral Kansas. The best pheasant populations will be found throughout the western two-thirds of Region 1 and northern portions of Region 3 where the pheasant hunting is expected to be outstanding.
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