2014 KANSAS UPLAND BIRD HUNTING FORECAST
After three consecutive years of statewide declines, the spring breeding populations stabilized in 2014. The only region showing a significant decrease was the Northern High Plains. Late summer rains that fell across much of the state in 2013 improved vegetative cover. However, the remainder of the fall and winter produced little precipitation and a majority of the winter wheat was in poor to very poor condition coming into the nesting season, creating less than optimal nesting conditions.
Precipitation returned in mid-May and continued through most of the summer. Despite the tardiness of the rainfall, conditions still improved greatly. And precipitation delayed wheat harvest, stimulated the growth of annual weeds, and promoted insect emergence, creating better nesting conditions and excellent brooding conditions throughout much of the state. These factors all had a positive impact on production, and combined for a statewide increase in the summer brood counts by 70 percent when compared to 2013. This increase should offer an improved hunting opportunities this fall although given that the population was at a modern day low, a few good years will be required for full recovery. Kansas will again have a below-average pheasant harvest this fall. Kansas still contains one of the best pheasant populations and the fall harvest will again be among the best in the country. The best areas this year will likely be in the Smoky Hills region.
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