Pratt, Ks – Each year the Kansas Department of Wildlife provides bird hunters with a forecast of the upcoming season. Well the surveys are complete, data is in, and the 2019 Kansas Upland Bird Hunting Forecast is ready for viewing. Hunters eagerly await the annual forecast to see what they can expect this year for pheasant, quail and prairie chicken this season. Based on this year’s crow counts for pheasants, whistle counts for quail, and lek counts for prairie chickens, overall upland bird hunting prospects are looking “good” for fall.
Pheasant hunting in Kansas should be fair to locally good this year. After a difficult year in 2018, due to heavy winter precipitation, that has helped entering the
2019 nesting season. After some late winter storms raised some concerns in western Kansas, the spring crowing index remained the same as 2018, indicating no harm on winter survival. The nests that hatched responded to the plentiful cover with relatively high chick survival, indicated by larger brood sizes.
Kansas continues to maintain one of the best pheasant populations in the country and the fall harvest should again be among the leading states. The highest densities this year will likely be in the High Plains regions of western Kansas.
Quail hunting in Kansas should be good in 2019. Kansas is still supporting above-average populations. While total harvest
has remained below average due to decreasing hunter participation, the average daily bag has remained at some of the highest levels observed in 20 years.
The bobwhite whistle survey in the spring of 2019 showed a modest decline following a tough season in 2018. The 2019 roadside survey index was just slightly higher than 2018 suggesting production compensated for any reductions previously recorded. The best opportunities will be found in central regions, extending into the northern Flint Hills and west into the Southern High Plains.
Kansas is home to both the greater and lesser prairie chickens. Lesser prairie chickens are found in the west-central and southwestern Kansas native prairie and stands of native grass.
Greater prairie chickens are found primarily in the tallgrass and mixed-grass prairies that occur in the eastern third and northern half of the state. Hunting opportunities will be best in the Northern High Plains and Smoky Hills regions this fall. Populations have been increasing or stabilized and public access is more abundant.
The Southwest Prairie Chicken Unit, where lesser prairie chickens are found, will remain closed to hunting this year.