Kansas Pheasant Hunting - Bad Season
Bad Seasons Do Happen
A bad grain farm year, drought, and the results, poor gain, less to no waste grain for winter over survival. A failed crop, corn below.
Kansas and grain crops means we will have to contend with good and bad crop years.
The corn above is a 100% failure pictured after any hope of replanting. This spring’s planting reflects the change-over year of the South Pacific La Nina/El Nino water temperature change-over. A case when the jet stream and the storms it brings are not favorable to Kansas farming. This is by local weathermen account a 12 year cycle that has a fair rate of expectancy. Unexpected drought years do occur as nature is not the regular clock on rain as it is for the seasons.
A good private land crop year may also mean late harvest extending into the opening weeks of the season. There are only so many combining days/hours when weather and field conditions allow harvest. When there are a lot of crops more time is required to harvest. On such year the amount of protective cover doubles with standing crops. Those conditions are to the advantage of the birds.
Kansas Pheasant Hunting Is Good Somewhere Every Year
Even on drought years there is good self guided Kansas hunting.
Same day pictured between the failed corn field picture (top) and this one (above) that is irrigated.
This is one of the values of Mid-America Hunting Association. That is knowing what land to lease. A second value is even though this region is depressed in its hunting quality the Association has land elsewhere in Kansas outside of the drought region that does have good hunting. A case where the Association always has good hunting, just not always in the same location from season to season.
The field corners in the irrigated corn field picture are in tall or, native grass. The best protective cover available next to a reliable season to season food source. Each quarter section on this farm has a center steer pivot irrigation with four corners in grass.
Not All Is Perfect For All Pheasant Hunters
Some see a pheasant. Others see cut wheat.
Pheasant do feed on cut wheat. Upland bird hunters of any experience know it is a rare dog capable of successfully hunting to point for hunter flush peasants in cut wheat. The more likely hunting spots would be summer weed growth areas in the field and weed/grass edges and waterways.
Cut wheat is where any dog not truly steady to point may well see the pheasant when it is trying to avoid detection by remaining frozen to spot or takes to run. In most dogs it is common to find they are not as steady to point as the hunter desires. Most are given to chasing the seen pheasant rather than pointing. A much different condition than hunting tall grass when the bird is never seen by the dog.
The idea to remember when hunting some Kansas regions the best hunting will be in the dry localities. In these regions dry land crops of wheat and milo will be prevalent more so than irrigated soybean and corn. Between wheat and milo more dogs can successfully hunt milo than cut wheat.
The difference to understand has several points. It is that irrigation is expensive. Its profit lies in the higher to sell priced grains of soybean and corn. Soybean and corn require much during the growing season water to grow. The total irrigated acreage is always a minority acreage than total available hunting acreage. The bulk of the crop land in the better regions will be dry land crops of wheat and milo. The dry land grain areas will be in winter or green wheat meaning that planted that fall, cut wheat or wheat planted the previous summer or milo.
The upland bird hunters who most enjoy these regions are the ones with the well suited dog power. Steady to point being just one of those dog power aspects that this terrain separates the top dogs from the majority of average dogs. Not all dogs will hunt well in this terrain regardless of the number of pheasants that reside within eyesight.
A second dog power aspect required of this wide open country of long range direct observation will be for dogs that work close. Dogs that run the distance of direct sight of the hunter will more likely be well out of huntable range than in it.
There will be hunters that find this ground unsuited for their dog power. For those there are different regions of Kansas with different habitat types. Traveling but a few hours may make for the better hunt experience. That is if the dog power issue is related to terrain!
Kansas Hunting Perspective For Western Kansas
What do you see?
Some see only a Jack Rabbit. Experienced central midwest upland bird hunters see milo. The most desired food source for quail and pheasant and a dry land crop that grows well in the dyer, better Kansas hunting regions. Why dryer makes better is that during spring nesting and subsequent brooding period to weather survivable quill feather juvenile status is best during dry weather. Keeping the down feathered chicks warm and dry always makes of increased bird densities come fall.
The crop difference extends to milo that is planted as late as June. The seed requires a warm ground temperature to germinate. It has an extensive root structure that gives it drought survivability.
The picture at right shows well the ratio of root to stem. This milo seed stem had just broken the soil surface when we dug it out.
Corn in contrast requires an April planting for sufficient growing time before fall killer frost to mature the gain on the ears. On dry years dry land (meaning not irrigated) corn field that fail are often replanted in milo. The more milo planted the more quail and pheasant protective cover there is.
The difference is beyond the higher desired food source it goes to the mix of food and protective cover. The harvested milo field below shows well why we like milo.
The cut stems leave plenty of leaf for cover. The heads have sufficient grain to keep quail and pheasant fed through winter.
Pictured at right is a milo head well after harvest in late January. The bulky nature of the milo head keeps it up and out of the mud delaying its degradation due to moisture rot. It breaking through the melted snow shows well how this grain is readily available to ground dwelling birds.
There is more to learn about crop fields best experienced first hand. Give us a call about where to hunt and the Association has that hunting land available for the price of writing a check rather than hope to hunt knock on door approach.
Good Hunting During Bad Weather Seasons
The summer when the above drought pictures were taken that fall we did have an average hunting season, picture below.
Kansas allows turkeys to be harvested with dogs in the fall.