Outdoorsmen don’t need favorable prospects — or even favorable weather — to head to their favorite hunting spots.
Luckily, the weather has been kind. Cooler fall temperatures have conservation experts in both Kansas and Missouri predicting successful harvests throughout most of both states.
Here’s what to expect as the meat of hunting season approaches.
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SEASON DATES: Youth firearm – Oct. 28-29 and Nov. 24-26; Firearms (antlerless) Dec. 1-3; Firearms (alternative methods) Dec. 23- Jan. 2; Firearms – Nov. 11-21; Archery – Sept. 15-Nov. 10 and Nov. 22-Jan. 15
OUTLOOK: Cooler fall temperatures have deer on the move, and that fact has already pushed the harvest rate above what it was last year.
“If that trend continues, and I think the forecast I’ve seen has temperatures being below what they were last year, it’s favorable to hunters,” Kevyn Wiskirchen, Private Lands Deer Biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation said. “We should see a higher overall harvest than we did last year. The one potential caveat is in southern Missouri. The vast forests have a higher acorn production, and that could reduce deer movement.”
SEASON DATES: Youth – Oct. 28-29; Regular – Nov. 1-Jan. 15
OUTLOOK: If you’re looking to bag your limit of pheasant and quail, the best bet is to head north, where forecasts look good. David Hoover, small game coordinator with the Missouri Department of Conservation, expects numbers to be up slightly, which is on par with the 10-year average. Longer periods of heavy rains shortened the nesting season in southern Missouri, but all is not lost.
“Where there is good habitat, there are reports of late broods. In areas with good habitat and enough of it, hunters can expect to see numbers at what they were last year, or maybe a little bit below, but better than overall early surveys,” Hoover said. “The bottom line is, hunters should expect similar to slightly better numbers than last year, all things being equal.”
SEASON DATES: Youth (South Zone) – Nov. 18-19; Youth (North Zone) – Oct. 28-29; Youth (Middle Zone) – Oct. 28-29; South Zone – Nov. 23-26 and Dec. 4-Jan.28; North Zone – Nov. 4-Jan. 2; Middle Zone – Nov. 4-10 and Nov. 16-Jan. 7
OUTLOOK: The good news is that the duck population is at near-record numbers. Success will depend on where and when that population moves, but the potential for a good season exists.
“How the season unfolds will depend on timing of migration and the weather we have,” Andy Raedeke, waterfowl biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, said. “Especially in western part of state, conditions are set up well.”
Raedeke said breeding conditions on the prairies were good for the third straight year. But…
“The prairies where most of the ducks come from experienced drought conditions. It’s a double-edged sword. There are good numbers of ducks, but it could make for more difficult hunting.”
SEASON DATES: Archery – Sept. 11-Dec. 31; Regular Firearm – Nov. 29-Dec. 10. Extended Season (Firearms Whitetail Antlerless Only) Jan. 1-14 (Units 10A, 15, 19); Jan. 1 (Units 6, 8, 9, 10, 16 and 17); Jan. 1-7 (Units 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 11, 12, 13, and 14)
OUTLOOK: Population stability across the state is good news for deer hunters.
“There’s getting to be some good weather, which is encouraging. Overall, it’s more of the same, another good Kansas deer season,” Levi Jaster, big game coordinator for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, said. “The southeast should be good again. There’s good deer numbers and good opportunities to harvest antlers. North central should have good numbers. The southwest is a little down. It’s still recovering from drought down there. In Unit 18 there’s no extended antler season because of that. But overall, it’s still pretty good.”
SEASON DATES: Regular – Nov. 11-Jan. 31. Youth – Nov. 4-5.
OUTLOOK: Wildlife, Parks and Tourism small game specialist Jeff Prendergast expects a good quail/pheasant season, with a better chance to see more mature birds.
“For pheasant and quail, annual survival is relatively low; therefore the fall population is more dependent on reproductive success than adult breeding population levels,” Prendergast said. “Weather was a limiting factor to nest success this year. The western third of the state received a heavy spring snowstorm on April 30-May1, accumulating up to 20 inches of snow. This storm caused adult mortality in quail in the southwestern portion of the state and occurred during peak laying for pheasants. Fortunately, temperatures rose and melted snow quickly, which prevented major losses of adult pheasants.”
But the weather, overall, has been favorable, which should lead to favorable hunting.
SEASON DATES: High Plains Unit – Oct. 7-Jan. 1 and Jan. 20-28. Low Plains Early Zone – Oct. 7-Dec. 3 and Dec. 16-31. Low Plains Late Zone – Oct. 26-Dec. 31 and Jan. 20-28. Low Plains Southeast Zone – Nov. 11-Dec. 31 and Jan. 6-28.
OUTLOOK: Continental duck populations have been a near record numbers for the past decade now, and a target-rich environment is good news for hunters. However, excessive rains may have already put a damper (literally) on expected harvest numbers.
“Kansas hunters will have to do a little more scouting and refine/adjust their hunting tactics. These rains also allowed many of Kansas’ wetlands to recharge as well as filling many reservoirs. However, these conditions also have negatively impacted some marshes,” Tom Bidrowski, migratory game bird biologist with the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, said. “Favorable fall/winter weather will also be needed to push birds into Kansas but not too severe as to maintain them in the state. With a warmer to normal fall, Kansas was off to a slow start but hunter reports last few weeks have been favorable.”