PRATT – The key to a successful upland bird hunting season is flexibility. Scouting and locating new hunting areas will definitely add birds to your bag, and with the 2017 Kansas Hunting Atlas, Kansas State Park Guide, and 2017 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary in hand, you have almost infinite possibilities.
Pheasant, quail and greater prairie chickens, for the most part, found good to excellent nesting and brood-rearing conditions this spring and summer, so the hunting forecast is positive. However, as always, there were weather incidents, such as hail, a late-April snowstorm, and heavy rains that affected populations locally. If this happened in an area you usually hunt, traveling just 30 miles could be the difference between disappointment and great hunting.
Check out the 2017 Upland Bird Forecast and you’ll see regional predictions on bird numbers based on spring and summer surveys. Use the atlas to find public hunting areas and Walk-in Hunting Access (WIHA) areas in the good regions. However, even if the area you select has abundant public access, finding good hunting still requires some scouting. A pre-season drive-through can help you pinpoint good fields. Remember that WIHA lands are open only to hunting and only during dates specified in the atlas and on posted signs.
Once you’ve figured out where to hunt, the next step will be figuring out where to stay. Now is the time to make plans. Lodging can be limited in many rural areas of western Kansas, as some motel rooms are often reserved a year in advance during the first two weeks of the season. However, there are other options. Kansas has 26 state parks scattered around the state, and many are right in the middle of some of the best hunting. They are also conveniently located near large public wildlife areas that surround federal reservoirs.
For hunters with an RV, Kansas state parks can be the perfect base camp. Call ahead now to find out what hook-ups are available this winter at the state park you’re considering. Some have heated showerhouses open through the winter. If you don’t have an RV, there are more than 100 cabins available for rent in Kansas state parks. You can learn more about state park cabins and availability at www.ksoutdoors.com.
Deluxe cabins offer full amenities, including heat, air conditioning, a full kitchen and bathrooms. Rustic cabins and yurts offer beds, electricity, and heating and air conditioning. Some Rustic cabins may also have a refrigerator, microwave oven and coffee maker. And all rustic cabins are located near a showerhouse.
If you’re a tent camper, state parks provide ample primitive camping sites. Keep in mind that camping is allowed only in designated areas on public hunting areas.
All of us have at one time or another thought about hunting a different part of the state, either because we’ve heard good things or we just wanted to see new country. This is the year to do it. Grab an atlas and forecast and find a part of the state you’ve always wanted to explore.