Pheasant hunting and the western Kansas economy

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the second Kansas Governor's Pheasant Hunt in Oakley. Oakley did an outstanding job of showcasing western Kansas hospitality and the excitement of pheasant hunting. The next two years, the event will be in Norton.

Pheasant hunting in Kansas is a $4 million industry. Pheasant hunting is also a family tradition I have enjoyed all of my life. The drought conditions have hurt our pheasant population drastically, and after opening weekend, I am afraid not many people will be traveling here to hunt.

It is just one more way the Kansas economy has been hurt by our horrible weather conditions.

I was so concerned I contacted Robin Jennison, the head of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, and asked him if shortening the season or lowering the daily bag limit were being considered.

I received a very informative letter in return, and the gist of the information was that harvesting male pheasants has no impact on future populations: (1) female pheasants are by far the most important in terms of population growth and they cannot be legally harvested, (2) harvesting males has little potential to impact population change because a single rooster can fertilize more than ten hens, and (3) research shows it is impossible to harvest more than 75 percent of the rooster population.

The bottom line is we need wet weather for many reasons.

On a fun note, I got to hunt with the National Rifle Association lobbyist who gave me a D rating for voting against conceal carry in college dorms.

I shot two pheasants out from under him at the governor's hunt, and he gave me a hat when we were done.

Ward Cassidy, R-St. Francis, represents the 120th District in the Kansas House of Representatives. ward.cassidy@house.ks.gov