Are we gaining?

Every year at this time I get myself all pumped up to pull the old shotguns out of the safe and head out to the harvested grain fields in search of the coveted quail and pheasants that we all hunted in the years past.

For the past several years — more than I want to remember — it has basically been a waste of time. In fact, I have not actively pursued any quail or pheasants now for at least five years. Now, that is sad. Now if I would venture to the west of our location in this bountiful state I would fare much better, but I have not done so.

This upcoming weekend marks the opening of the upland bird hunting season. Just like all the years past, I am pumped up for it to open. Why? I am not sure but it sure does not have anything to do with the upland bird forecast produced by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

After reading the latest forecast for the 2018 season in our area of the state there is not much to be optimistic about. We reside in what is known as the Glaciated Plains area according to the report. Since I am sure that there will be several people in our area venturing out next weekend, this is what you are up against this year.

According to the report, pheasant densities in this area are very low. The forecast for hunting pheasants is poor. There will only be pheasants in isolated pockets of habitat created by landowners. If you thought 2017 was bad, this year will be even worse. It looks like there is no end in sight for the pheasant hunting situation in our area.

Enough of the bad news! If you have your heart set on bagging some quail, things are finally looking up in this area. I personally have seen more quail this year than I have for a very long time. While combining beans the last several weeks numerous coveys of quail have been spotted, many more than the last several years. According to the report, quail numbers are steady and above average for the last several years in this area.

Are they as good as they were several years ago? No! But there has been a dramatic increase over the last five years. Now just because our area of the state is still a poor bet for success doesn’t mean there are no birds to hunt in our state. If you head west from here, you will steadily increase your odds of bagging birds. The report states that the 2017 season in Kansas had the second highest pheasant harvest in the nation. Hard to believe isn’t it?

This year is supposed to be even better and the prediction is that Kansas will have the highest harvest numbers in the nation. Hard to believe isn’t it? Last year’s statewide quail harvest was the highest in the country with Texas coming in second. Now according to the report, this year’s harvest will not be as large but it will still be good.

With all of the quail that I have been seeing in the area, I am definitely going to be heading out with my faithful hunting dog. I am positive that I will not run into any pheasants, but I am very positive that I can locate some quail. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

It has been a long time since there has been a quail in my game bag. Some of my greatest hunting memories deal with the pheasant and quail hunts in my formative hunting years. So yes, we are gaining in some areas of the upland bird hunting in our area. Enough that I am excited about this upcoming quail season.

Tim Kellenberger108 Posts

Tim Kellenberger serves as Owner, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for The Sabetha Herald since 2004. He specializes in sports reporting and column writing, as well as sports photography. Tim is a Grace University graduate with a dual degree in agricultural economics and human resource management. He lives in rural Sabetha with his wife and has four grown children and two grandchildren.

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