Frosted stubble, crisp morning air and tremors of excitement define opening morning of pheasant and quail season in Kansas. By far one of the most popular seasons in the state, upland bird hunting combines rampant enthusiasm for dogs, shotguns and camaraderie with the love of the outdoors.

While Kansas is widely accepted as a high quality destination for avid bird hunters, the bird populations can fluctuate easily based on weather conditions throughout the previous and early part of the year. 

Due to extreme drought in both 2011 and 2012, the upland bird populations have been significantly affected. With the adverse weather conditions, all Kansas counties were opened for emergency haying or grazing of CRP (Conservation Reserve Program). This land, including the WIHA (Walk In Hunting Areas), normally provide nesting grounds and sanctuary for upland birds. With the decline of native grasses and the loss of CRP ground, the upland bird population has been struggling.

Despite these conditions, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism Upland Bird Regional Forecast pointedly confirms that “Kansas still contains a pheasant population that will produce a harvest in the top three or four major pheasant states this year.” Look for good pheasant hunting in the north central and northwest areas of the state.

It’s predicted that quail hunting will be best throughout the Flint Hills and the central parts of the state as well.With a focus on conservation and the continuance of our outdoors heritage, the state of Kansas has created a special youth season that runs the weekend of November 3-4. It’s an amazing opportunity to entice and prepare the younger generation for the regular pheasant and quail season, which runs November 10-January 31.

Prairie chickens are also a dominant bird in the Kansas Flint Hills, although they don’t usually garner the same amount of attention as the pheasant and quail hunting seasons. Home to both the lesser and greater prairie chickens, the Kansas early prairie chicken hunting season has predominantly passed. However, regular season will run from November 17-January 31.A perfect opportunity to enjoy the cooler weather of fall, quality hunting and good companionship, upland bird hunting is one season that most hunters anticipate longingly.

Despite the unfavorable weather patterns of the last two years, Kansas hunters are still preparing for a respectable season. You can be assured that on opening day you can find me with my favorite shotgun, my favorite hunting dog and my favorite group of bird hunters!

Photos courtesy of Brandon Wilmoth, Moose Seidl and Elizabeth Peterson 

Elizabeth Peterson is a lifetime resident of Kansas, an avid outdoorswoman, and a new mom. She spends her free time in the great outdoors, hunting and fishing, and writing about her life and passions on her personal blog DeerPassion. You can also find her on Twitter, @DeerPassion