By COLE REIF
Great Bend Post
As the pheasant season has been open for two weeks now in Kansas, Cheyenne Bottoms Area Wildlife Manager Jason Wagner said the bird population appears to be down once again. While everyone’s hunting success can vary depending on location, Wagner has mostly heard of low results from hunters throughout Barton County.
With low pheasant turnout, conversations of shortening the season or reducing bag limits surface. Wagner said that should not be the case.
"We're only shooting the males, and a male can service up to 10 hens in the spring," said Wagner. "We're not hurting the breeding potential of the pheasants."
Pheasant season started Nov. 13 in Kansas and continues through Jan. 31, 2022. The daily bag limit is four male birds. Wagner referred to pheasants and upland birds as the "self-regulating species."
"When the population is really high, we have a lot of hunters," said Wagner. "Word gets out really quick. When the population is low we don't have the pressure on the resource. There's less people out there hunting."
Wagner went on to say more land has become off limits to keep it reserved for deer hunting. As deer hunting has gained popularity, unofficial refuges have been created for pheasants in the deer hunting areas.
While there are plenty of people concerned about the pheasant population numbers, Wagner said there is not one clear answer to explain the shortage. Some of the reasons that could be playing a factor include weather patterns and climate changes, loss of CRP, changes in agricultural practices and higher numbers in nest predators. With a big drop in people buying fur, less people are trapping coons, possums and skunks…nest predators of the pheasants.