Drought in Kansas creating unlikely locations to hunt pheasant, quail

Pheasant and quail hunting season has opened in Kansas, but the drought has changed a few things like where to find the birds.
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 10:27 PM CST
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GREAT BEND, Kan. (KWCH) - The pheasant and quail hunting season has begun in Kansas, but the drought has changed a few things like where to find the birds.

For most of the year, Cheyenne Bottoms is known as a refuge, but starting last weekend, parts of the wetlands are now an active hunting ground.

“We’d normally have 5 to 7,000 hunters out here throughout the year, that travel through the area and utilize the businesses, hotels, restaurants and stuff,” said Jason Wagner, the manager at Cheyenne Bottoms.

This year, he said, those numbers have changed.

“We’re not going to get anywhere near that,” said Wagner.

Now, they’re hoping to see a new type of hunter.

“Barton County and Great Bend, it’s going to be very reliant on the pheasant hunters, because of the drought that Cheyenne Bottoms is dry, which is typically known for a waterfowl destination,” said Wagner.

Normally, hunters would come to the wetlands to hunt a variety of ducks and waterfowl, but because of the drought, they’re not here. Now, quail and pheasant have taken their place, bringing those hunters along.

Larry Conger, a hunter from Colorado, said a dry Cheyenne Bottoms makes for good hunting for him.

“Was looking for a place to hunt some pheasant and quail and saw this was available, so we thought we’d come over and take a look at it, walk around, and see if we have any luck,” said Conger. “You know looking at the habitat behind us over here, it looks like it would be really good for pheasants. We actually made a little walk, and we bagged up six or seven birds, I think. Got a shot at a rooster but didn’t connect.”

Conger said he now wants to make the wetlands, an annual stop.

“I hunt several states. This is my first trip to Kansas ever. So I’m hoping that I’ll find some places, and I can return every year, and do a little bit of hunting out here,” Conger said.

If you’re interested in hunting pheasant or quail, Kansas rules state you can start thirty minutes before sunrise and until sunset. Hunting season continues through January 31, 2023.