By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

CHEYENNE BOTTOMS -- This 19,857-acre wetlands is anything but wet.

Yet, Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area manager Karl Grover just shrugs it off.

"I think, considering the summer we had, we're in pretty good shape," he said.

Recently, Grover and his crew opened the gates from Pool 1 -- the wildlife area's main water storage pool. But it only contained about 37 inches of water.

The shift comes just in time for teal season, which opens Saturday in the Low Plains Zone east of U.S. Highway 283.

The High Plains Zone opens Sept. 17. Both the zones close Sept. 25.

Conditions at Cheyenne Bottoms, Grover said, have been dry, even though nearly 3 inches of rain fell in August.

"But it all just disappeared," he said of the rain. "In July, less than two-thirds of an inch for the entire month."

Despite the dry conditions, Grover thinks the hunting outlook is bright, expecting teal to start dropping in at any point.

But with a smaller supply of water, he said hunters had better plan on more crowded conditions.

He admits, however, that the reduced water and crowded conditions "will discourage some guys."

But it's tough to tell how many hunters the wildlife area gets, even though hunters are supposed to fill out a hunter survey card every day they hunt there.

Compliance has been lackluster.

"To the point where there's some thought to requiring a check station once again," Grover said of setting up a spot where waterfowl hunters would be required to stop and let wildlife managers check licenses and the birds killed.

Compliance with the surveys, he said, has been less than 70 percent.

"If guys don't want to comply with regulations now, we can fix that," he said.

Despite the lack of hard numbers, Grover said he thinks anywhere from 400 to 600 hunters will be out on opening day, with anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 over the season.