Kansas Quail Hunting Forecast 2017

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Looks like a banner year for Kansas quail hunting

Jeff Prendergast, small game specialist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, predicts “good to locally great” quail hunting in the state this fall, according to the Kansas upland bird hunting outlook. The bobwhite quail whistling survey this year indicated the highest numbers of quail recorded since the survey began two decades ago.

“Precipitation patterns observed over the past five years have altered vegetation – increasing both the quality and quantity of habitat – allowing for a modern quail boom,” Prendergast says.

Conditions were conducive for good quail production across much of the state this year, though some areas experienced extreme drought. Additionally, a heavy snowstorm in late April and early May in the southwestern part of the state caused some adult quail mortality. However, statewide estimates of quail numbers based on roadside surveys were similar to 2016.

“Success should remain high for Kansas hunters this year,” Prendergast writes. “Kansas maintains one of the best quail populations, and the fall harvest will again be among the best in the country.”

“While quail densities in the eastern-most regions are not as high,” says Prendergast, “all regional indices remain above their respective long-term averages. Opportunities should remain good throughout the state this year, with the best opportunities found in the central regions of the state.”
 

KANSAS QUAIL BY REGION

Smoky Hills
<75,576 acres of public land and 289,278 acres of WIHA open to hunters this fall.>
Hunt Prediction: Very Good.
Comments: “Quail hunting should be good to great throughout the region this year,” says Prendergast. “The spring whistle survey increased by 40 percent. With good production conditions, the roadside survey also increased. The Smoky Hills had the highest regional roadside index for quail in 2017.”

South Central Prairies
<19,534 acres of public land and 62,350 acres of WIHA open to hunters this fall.>
Hunt Prediction: Good.
Comments: “Quail hunting should remain good throughout the region,” says Prendergast. “Quail numbers are likely better than roadside surveys have indicated. The intermixing of quality cover provides more consistent opportunities in the South Central Prairies compared to other regions. The highest roadside counts were recorded in the northern and eastern portions, but hunting should be good throughout the region.”

Flint Hills
<128,371 acres of public land and 57,668 acres of WIHA open to hunters this fall.>
Hunt Prediction: Good 
Comments: “The region recorded a record index of whistling bobwhites this spring and the highest regional whistling index in 2017,” says Prendergast. “Regional reports indicate good bird numbers, very good cover, and weather that likely promoted production. Additionally, carryover birds from high spring densities will help maintain opportunity this year.” The southern half of the region recorded the highest roadside indices this year.

Southwest
<111,079 acres of public land and 170,959 acres of WIHA open to hunters this fall>
Hunt Prediction: Fair to good.
Comments: “Opportunities will remain good, but hunters should expect lower densities than observed over the past few years,” says Prendergast. “Whistle counts were only half of 2016 counts, following adult mortality from the snowstorm. Despite major losses, the spring surveys remained above the long-term average. Above-average precipitation created good conditions for production. Scaled quail are also found in this region but made up a smaller proportion of quail observations this year than in 2016.”

Glaciated Plains
<60,559 acres of public land and 54,218 of WIHA open to hunters this fall.>
Hunt Prediction: Fair
Comments: “Quail hunters should expect fair to locally good opportunities this year,” says Prendergast. “Bobwhites on the spring whistle count increased slightly, remaining above average. While urbanization and large-scale succession in the region have deteriorated habitat and caused long-term population declines, carryover birds from 2016 should maintain some opportunity in the area.”

Osage Cuestas
< 80,759 acres of public land and 33,156 acres of WIHA open to hunters this fall>
Hunt Prediction: Poor to Fair.
Comments: “Roadside surveys were down in 2017,” says Prendergast, “with production in the region being low, likely in response to heavy precipitation. Hunters should expect densities lower than last year, but still better than average.” The best hunting will be found in western counties along the Flint Hills.

Northwest
<12,889 acres of public land and 337,063 acres of WIHA open to hunters this fall.>
Hunt Prediction: Poor.
Comments: “Quail are limited in the region and are predominantly taken opportunistically by pheasant hunters. The best hunting will be found in the eastern counties in areas where adequate woody cover is present,” says Prendergast. This area is at the extreme northwestern edge of bobwhite range in Kansas
 

Kansas Hunting Tip

*“I don’t have anywhere I can hunt” is an undefendable excuse when it comes to ignoring Kansas for any kind of upland hunt. Just take a look at the public land and walk-in counts in the above regional reports, and imagine that total of more than 1.6 million publicly accessible acres ready to be explored.
 

LINKS

2017 Kansas Upland Bird Forecast

Kansas Public Hunting Opportunities Page

Kansas 2017 Fall Hunting Atlas