Kansas hunters who are eagerly awaiting the start of the upland bird season have little time left to wait.
The two-day youth pheasant and quail seasons kick off this weekend in Kansas, running from Nov. 2-3 before the regular seasons begin Nov. 9. Both of those seasons will continue through Jan. 31, 2020. The greater prairie chicken season opens the following weekend, Nov. 16, and also continues through Jan. 31, 2020.
Daily bag limit for pheasants is two roosters during the youth season and four during the regular season, while for quail it’s four birds during youth season and eight during the regular season. Pheasants in possession for transportation must retain intact a foot, plumage or some part that will determine sex. For greater prairie chickens, the daily limit is two birds.
For women and youths looking to get into the sport, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is offering a cool event at Glen Elder (Waconda Lake) State Park later this month.
Women of any age and children 11 to 16 years old are eligible to participate in the 2019 Youth and Women’s Pheasant Hunt on Nov. 23.
Participants will meet at 9 a.m. in the Hopewell Church basement at Glen Elder State Park to begin the day. There will be a pre-hunt safety talk and participants will be divided into various groups based on their skill levels. The hunters, guides and mentors will then head out to various spots around the lake to pursue pheasants, according to a news release. A noon meal will be provided for all participants by the Waconda Lake Association. Previous hunting experience is not required, and some shotguns and ammunition can be provided to applicants who do not have access to their own equipment.
Applications should be submitted by Nov. 18 by contacting the Glen Elder Area Office at 785-545-3345 during business hours. Signups may be limited to the first 30 applicants.
The KDWPT also is seeking extra volunteers with hunting experience for the event to serve as hunting and instructional mentors. For further questions concerning the event or to get involved, contact Chris Lecuyer at the KDWPT Glen Elder Area Office 785-545-3345.
A strong cold front this past week has helped push more waterfowl into the area, and local readers may have heard the sounds of white-fronted geese (also known as specklebellies) cackling overhead at night recently, as well as a few snow geese.
That’s good news for waterfowlers, as geese had been a rare sight in previous weeks across the state — though we’re still not seeing big numbers in the area.
Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, previously known as Squaw Creek, near Mound City, Mo., reported about 1,800 white-fronted geese as of Oct. 28. The refuge in northwest Missouri offers a pretty good estimate of overall bird numbers in northeast Kansas, as well. More than 19,000 mallards were counted at the refuge, as well as 35,120 Northern pintails, 5,475 gadwalls, 259 Canada geese, 1,065 ring-necked ducks, 485 Northern shovelers and 7,450 American coots. A total of 64,826 ducks and 2,070 geese were counted in the report.
At Clinton Wildlife Area, the KDWPT counted 300 ducks, 2,000 coots and 75 Canada geese during its most recent survey Oct. 23. According to the report, the 10-acre Shadden Marsh is full and has good vegetation, providing some solid hunting opportunities for a limited number of waterfowlers.
Jeffrey Energy Center near St. Mary’s reported 500-plus mixed ducks and coots on Oct. 25 — mainly teal, shoveler, ringnecks and a few mallards with very few geese.
Also on Oct. 25, Perry reported a few hundred ducks consisting of a few mallards, good numbers of teal and shovelers, and also some wood ducks and pintails. On Oct. 30, Tuttle Creek reported 11,000 ducks and 14 Canada geese. Both wildlife areas are heavily flooded.
The Low Plains Southeast Zone’s duck season begins this weekend with a two-day youth duck season Saturday and Sunday ahead of the first segment of its regular season, which runs from Nov. 9 to Jan. 5, 2020. The second segment in that zone runs Jan. 11-26, 2020.
The duck season for most of northeast Kansas kicked off last weekend and continues through Dec. 29 before the second segment kicks in Jan. 18-26, 2020.
The daily bag limit in Kansas is six ducks, including no more than five mallards, of which only two may be hens; three wood ducks; three scaup; two redheads; two canvasbacks; and one pintail. The daily bag limit for mergansers is five, including no more than two hooded mergansers, while the daily limit for coots is 15. Possession limit is three times the daily bag limit.
The two-day first segment for the light goose and Canada goose season was last weekend across Kansas, as well, with the second segment for both set to begin on Wednesday and continue through Feb. 16, 2020. The conservation order extended season for light geese picks up the following day, Feb. 17, and runs until April 30, 2020. During that time, there is no daily bag limit, shotguns may be used unplugged and electronic game calls are allowed.
During the regular season, the bag limit for light geese is 50 birds. The Canada goose daily bag limit is six birds, including Brant, and for white-fronted geese — which have their own separate season Oct. 26-Dec. 29 and Jan. 25-Feb. 16, 2020 — the daily bag limit is two.
Waterfowl hunters are required to carry a valid hunting license, Kansas HIP Permit, State Waterfowl Stamp and Federal Waterfowl Stamp.
The Sandhill crane regular season also kicks off Wednesday and runs through Jan. 3, 2020, with a daily bag limit of two birds. Those hunting Sandhill cranes are required to have a valid hunting license, Kansas HIP Permit and Sandhill Crane Permit.
Deer are starting to move quite a bit, which is good for bow hunters but also leads to some interesting encounters.
For instance, I saw several does crossing Soldier Creek this week, then had them run in front of my truck on N.W. Menninger Road. Keep your eyes peeled while driving, especially this month with a hot mid-November rut in the forecast.
The statewide regular firearm season runs Dec. 4-15.