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Kansas DIY... First Attempt

Kansas DIY... First Attempt

Postby aksportsman » Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:28 am

Hey guys,

I'm finally planning my first out of state DYI public land hunt in almost 4 years...

I've settled on Kansas, with Pheasant and Quail of course as my target species. I've never hunted the state so I feel ill prepared to say the least! I will be taking my father on his first pheasant hunt since he grew up in Nebraska and shot them in corn fields as a kid. Obviously I'm hoping to make it a special 4-5 days with him and my 4 year old Brittany. We are looking at mid November and currently trying to narrow our search area and gain any and all knowledge possible prior to the trip. I'm hoping some of you wouldn't mind offering advice on WIHA as well as other public land opportunities, lessons learned, etc.


Just some side information,

-We will be taking a RV/motor home, and a truck, thus very mobile to change locations.

-Both in good shape and shouldn't have any difficulties reaching public land opportunities less pressured (should those actually exist)

- My Brittany has limited experience with quail and really performed well when we find a lost covey but none on pheasant or running birds (woodcocks are behave like a proper game bird none of that running stuff :lol: )

- Wouldn't mind paying for access to private property for a hunt or two in the beginning but would like to hunt with my dog.

I don't have a lot to offer in return unless someone is interested in chasing mudbats in Louisiana swamps, to those select few who may be, I'd be happy to re-pay the favor pointing you in the right directions in my neck of the woods. Just hoping to dredge up as much information as I can, thanks for the time!
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Re: Kansas DIY... First Attempt

Postby Timewise65 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 12:45 pm

I live near Kansas City and hunt waterfowl, quail, and pheasants. I have three field trained Golden Retrievers that I use as flushing dogs for upland and as retrievers for waterfowl. As I watch some of the field reports for the upcoming season, by state, I have read two that say Kansas is having its 3rd consecutive good year (weather wise) for pheasant and quail broods survival. The one I use the most is the 'Annual quail and pheasant forecast' in Gun Dog Magazine. It is in the September 2018 issue.

In summary from this issue ...the Kansas "Crowing Survey" says that "Pheasants have been on the upswing throughout much of the state in recent years after the low point around 2014. As for quail, the 2017 bobwhite 'Whistle survey" produced the highest results since its inspection two decades earlier, which should mean that there will be plenty of quail..."

Kansas has lots of good well managed public land, check out http://ksoutdoors.com/Hunting/Where-to-Hunt

As far as hunting on private land, it is tough as many "hunting clubs" have lease access to the good areas and others cannot hunt on that land. I have in the past drove around and knocking on doors, some land owners allow hunting. Many don't and some get down right mad for bothering them.....so use this as a last result!

I am going to a hunting lodge to hunt wild Pheasant in Western Kansas this year. These guys actually seed the wild population in the Spring with hens to keep the population of wild birds high. (note they do offer hunts with 'pen raised birds' good for training young dogs or hunters) The have many options, including a self guided hunt with your own dog! Not the cheapest, but for my money one of the best. Check them out …

Outdoor Obsession, in Downs, KS.

Good Luck
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Re: Kansas DIY... First Attempt

Postby KCKLH » Sat Aug 11, 2018 3:30 pm

Youll find birds plenty of places. Head west and south to avoid crowds.
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Re: Kansas DIY... First Attempt

Postby aksportsman » Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:40 am

Thank you both for the responses!

I've heard mixed reviews on the WIHA available. Some people seem to love them and have great success, others complain that they are over pressured and throw out the usual excuses of "they aren't what they used to be".. I feel as though the spread out nature of that program and the habitat diversity would be better hunting than available WMA or govt. managed tracts. Is that a decent assumption? If so are there any habitat types or various ques (tree lines separating agg fields creek bottoms etc) that you would suggest I base some of my planed hunting locations on?

Ill look into the western half of the state to start. Thanks again!
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Re: Kansas DIY... First Attempt

Postby Timewise65 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:12 am

I did not mean to suggest that public hunting areas were free from other hunters, obviously they are not! This is true in all states I have hunted in...You mention the military managed properties. They take reservations and therefore have less pressure. If you can get on one take it, they consistently are better that public land (this is what I have heard from others, I personally have not hunted any of these units.) The key point here is that other hunters, like you do their homework. Locals have the advantage of scouting a property before opening day. So If you find a good area, you will find hunters...on that land.

That being said, I never go on opening day and seldom hunt on Saturday's or Sunday's (I am retired) as that is when the level of hunter is the greatest. I usually have a plan to drive around checking out multiple public plots, I start early in the day so that I am in the area at sun up. I usually can find an area that is free of other hunters or only a few hunters. If it is a large property and only one or two others are on the land, I will hunt that land also, trying to go in where they have not been.

My favorite properties are those that have corn or maze fields next to them, or actually are part of that plot of land. The roosters will work between the corn and where they have good cover (better yet if the corn has been harvested, if there is some corn on the ground. Watch out for corn fields that have been harvested and stripped where only bear soil remains, these field and cover on those fields are not worth hunting. Having said that, my second priority is cover, usually in the form of tree lines or better yet, ditch filled with cover (these are usually really good if you have a tough dog), also sometimes fence lines can be good if they are clogged with tumble weeds and cover. Third I look for a water source. These types of fields are plentiful in Kansas.
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Re: Kansas DIY... First Attempt

Postby aksportsman » Mon Aug 13, 2018 4:11 pm

Timewise65, Thank you very much your input has been extremely helpful. Very excited about the trip and hopefully finding a few birds!

In the process of researching plots to focus on, I've noticed many are in close proximity to seemingly active homes or farms, do you ever avoid those? I ask because although they are more likely to have tree and shrub cover I don't want to step on anyone's toes and feel as though those home owners may have hunted them hard already? I'm not sure but thought Id ask someone from the area. Thanks again!
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Re: Kansas DIY... First Attempt

Postby zrp » Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:44 pm

Those WIHA are well posted and leave a safe zone around homes. And mid Nov is the opener for quail and pheasant in Kansas. My experience is that all the public areas are hit pretty hard opening weekend. The locals and leaseholders hunt public on the opener and save their private for a few days. They essentially have two openers with naive birds that way. Lots of guys walk and block so a couple guys with a good dog working the better cover can still have good success even following those groups on the bigger tracts. My advice is don't have extremely high hopes on the first day. A good part of day 1 is scouting, even if you've scouted from home w Google Earth. My experience is some of those tracts are plowed or have just germinated wheat and so you'll drive to a few tracts that you don't even get out of the truck. If there's a little patch of thick cover around a tank in the middle of one of those plowed fields, it's probably worth the walk though. I hunt more in Oklahoma but cross the border now and then. Should be a decent year up there. Last fall and winter and spring was very dry but they've had some late summer rains and the climatologists are predicting El nino to return this fall. Good luck
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Re: Kansas DIY... First Attempt

Postby porochi » Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:05 pm

I live and hunt in KS. Western third of the state has plenty of Walk-in-Hunting-Areas (WIHA). Check out the map on the KDWPT website for details or pick up a free atlas at any Walmart or most sporting goods stores when in the state. The middle part of the state has had good quail numbers the past 2 seasons. I don't typically hunt further west than Larned, KS, not sure what quail numbers are like further west but the last 2 seasons I've been relatively pleased with the number of coveys I've kicked up hunting mainly central KS. WIHA is pressured quite a bit opening weekend and the first couple of weeks of season for sure. But if you go further west, western third of the state, that's where most of the WIHA is and you'll find places to hunt that aren't so pressured. Some of those WIHA tracts are big, full sections (640 acres of tall CRP) tough to hunt with just a couple guys unless you focus on edges. I'd avoid trying the military bases, e.g. Ft. Riley, main Army post in KS that would have birds. It's a pain to hunt on post, I had to register my shotguns, in advance, with the Provost Marshall on post, then check in before hunting, and check out. And really, Ft. Riley is still a bit far east in KS to have a great bird population. If I were you, grab a WIHA atlas and head out to the counties in the western third of the state. You'll find plenty of opportunities and your dog will get to run itself ragged, after all, watching the dogs work is really what it's all about.
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Re: Kansas DIY... First Attempt

Postby aksportsman » Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:44 am

porochi wrote: If I were you, grab a WIHA atlas and head out to the counties in the western third of the state. You'll find plenty of opportunities and your dog will get to run itself ragged, after all, watching the dogs work is really what it's all about.


Sounds like a plan and I couldn't agree more, to be honest I plan on focusing on the dog and hopefully putting my dad on a rooster right behind her. After all the years he has taken me I am thrilled to be able to take him.
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Re: Kansas DIY... First Attempt

Postby porochi » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:24 pm

Counties in the NW part of the western 3rd of Kansas seem to usually come in higher during the annual bird count. And those are easily accessible off of I-70, which crosses the NW part of the state and WIHA tracts are heavily concentrated there, e.g. Graham and Trego counties.
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Re: Kansas DIY... First Attempt

Postby Timewise65 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 11:07 am

Wow, folks really come through on this post! Since I do much of my upland hunting in Kansas I can assure you that most of this is spot on! One thing I want to mention is that many of the hunters on the public properties do not have dogs, when compared to private/leased properties. This also helps as if you are on a very large plot and other hunters are working the area, without a dog, they will actually move birds into a 'predictable' part of the plot. Hunt that plot with your dogs....sometimes this works better that having a group working birds to you as a blocker....

Good Luck and be safe!
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Re: Kansas DIY... First Attempt

Postby aksportsman » Fri Aug 24, 2018 4:11 pm

Thanks again to everyone who responded! I'm really looking forward to the trip and I'll try to let everyone know how it went. I sure hope I can put my dad on his first pheasant since he was a kid, but we'll have a good time regardless.
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Re: Kansas DIY... First Attempt

Postby blanked » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:36 pm

Get that dog in shape too. One dog for 5 days in a row he needs to be in top shape.
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Re: Kansas DIY... First Attempt

Postby aksportsman » Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:06 am

Its been difficult to get her out for significant lengths of time. Its 90 degrees by the time the sun gets up right now but October isn't far off.
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