Kansas Quail Hunting Forecast 2019

db48e52d-3c9d-42ba-a8e1-a96a6429c309 With nearly 1.7 million acres of publicly-accessible ground, Kansas consistently ranks as one of the top wild bobwhite quail states in the nation, and this year’s quail-hunting prospects look to continue that trend with a “hold-steady” expectation for the coming season.
 

WEATHER AND CONDITIONS

“Southwest Kansas had some apparent losses due to a mid-winter blizzard, however roadside surveys have indicated that good production has largely compensated for these losses,” says Jeff Prendergast, small game specialist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism. “Heavy precipitation and flooding limited nest/brood success in some areas, particularly in the eastern units.”

However, while rainfall was also high across the western regions, a mid-summer dry period and improved habitat increased production in those areas, and it appears that while numbers in the eastern-most regions have decreased, other regions remained at or above their respective long-term averages.
 

HABITAT, BROODS AND COUNTS

Habitat across most of Kansas quail range is looking good going into fall – maybe too good. “Heavy precipitation across the last year has created ample cover going into fall and produced heavy crop residue,” says Prendergast. “This may challenge hunters as there will be a lot of cover for birds to spread out in. The heavy moisture also delayed crops so we are expecting a delayed harvest with lots of crops standing at the beginning of the season.”

Prendergrast says statewide roadside survey numbers were similar to last year, indicating above-average densities were maintained. “The bobwhite whistle survey in spring 2019 saw a modest decline following a generally poor production season in 2018. However, this is relative to a 20-year high in 2017, so despite the decline, spring densities were still well above average. The 2019 roadside survey index was just slightly higher than 2018, suggesting production compensated for any reductions previously recorded.”
 

Top Spots

According to Prendergast, hunters looking for the highest bird numbers might want to concentrate on the north-central part of the state. “The roadside survey index was highest in the Smoky Hills north-central region,” says Prendergast. 
 

INSIDER TIP

“Grazed pastures are often overlooked,” says Prendergast. “Lots of birds nest in these areas and will often stay in the rangeland early in the season until conditions get more extreme. These areas can be large and intimidating to many, and the habitat is more difficult to read, but targeting draws with some heavier grass/woody structure or areas near heavy use areas that get more weeds will often pay off.” 
 

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