It’s August, and that means hunting season is upon us once again.
The Kansas big game season has already kicked off rather unceremoniously this month, as the first segment of the elk firearm season for most of Kansas began Aug. 1 and will continue through the end of the month. The early season offers hunters outside of Fort Riley a chance to pursue the big cervid during the pre-rut in the heat of summer.
Elk is a bit of a rarity across most of the state, but every now and then a lucky hunter with a tag will come across one traveling through their area and come away with a trophy of a lifetime, much like Lawrence’s DJ Klenklen did in September 2018 when he shot a near-record bull elk with a muzzleloader just south of Winchester in Jefferson County.
Early fall is a time of great bounty in Kansas, with typically plentiful dove and teal seasons in early September a harbinger of great things to come. September also marks the start of the Kansas deer season, with a special season for youths and hunters with disabilities running from Sept. 5 -13 prior to the archery and muzzleloader seasons kicking off Sept. 14.
Upland bird season is about as big as anything in western Kansas, and so far reports are showing good signs for the quail population. Garrett Love, owner of Western Kansas Pheasant Hunts near Montezuma in Gray County, says he’s seen an increasing number of quail in recent years.
"Been up the last several years it seems like," Love said.
He said the pheasant population in his area was looking solid, as well.
Stacy Hoeme, of Scott City, said he’d also seen good numbers of quail and heard others say they’ve seen more quail than usual, though the pheasant numbers haven’t been where he’d like them to be.
"We had kind of a dry year and it was pretty damn hot, so it kind of knocked things down," he said.
Hoeme said the pheasant hunting between Scott City and Garden City to the south likely wouldn’t be that good this year because of the dry weather, but added that areas to the south and east of Garden City — such as Montezuma and Dodge City — saw a good deal more rain than the areas farther north and could lead to some excellent hunting opportunities for pheasant. He said the rainfall this year sort of followed a pattern along the Arkansas River to the south.
Youth pheasant and quail seasons in Kansas run from Nov. 7-8, with the regular season kicking off the following weekend, Nov. 14, and continuing through the end of January 2021.
In addition to upland birds, Hoeme said that he’d seen terrific dove numbers around his ranch, as well, particularly collared doves.
"There's a lot of doves, but they seem to do better in the dry weather," Hoeme said.
He added that he came across a power line the other day that must have had 100 doves sitting on it.
For the first time this year, veterans and active military will be able to begin duck hunting during the youth seasons, which begin as early as Oct. 3 in parts of the state, thanks to changes made in April by the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission regarding eligibility for the early seasons.
The Low Plains Late Zone duck season, of which Topeka and most of northeast Kansas belong, runs from Oct. 31 to Jan. 3, 2021, with a second segment Jan. 23-31, 2021.
The Low Plains Early Zone, which includes the Cheyenne Bottoms in Barton County, as well as Jamestown Wildlife Area in Republic County and the McPherson Wetlands, runs from Oct. 10 to Dec. 6 and Dec. 19 to Jan. 3, 2021.
The Low Plains Southeast Zone, which includes El Dorado Reservoir, runs from Nov. 14 to Jan. 3, 2021, and Jan. 9-31, while the High Plains Zone, made up of everything west of US-283 highway, runs from Oct. 10 to Jan. 3, 2021, and Jan. 22-31.
The daily bag limit is six ducks consisting of no more than five mallards (only two of which may be females), three wood ducks, two redheads, two canvasbacks, one pintail and one scaup.
The statewide Canada goose, white-fronted goose and light goose seasons all begin on Oct. 31 this year, as well.
For those looking to meet up with other waterfowl enthusiasts this fall, there are several good opportunities tentatively scheduled for this fall through Ducks Unlimited, assuming they can go on as planned amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Garnett chapter of Ducks Unlimited is hosting its annual banquet from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Anderson County Fairgrounds to maintain proper social distancing.
The meal will be catered by Jumping Catfish, and will include fried catfish, chicken tenders, potato wedges, hush puppies, coleslaw and beans. All drinks, including alcohol, are complementary.
Tickets for the event are $35 for a single ticket, $45 for a couple and $70 for a family.
For more information, contact Mike Kellerman at 806-437-9985 or Brent Johnston at 785-448-7155.
Meanwhile, Ottawa's banquet will be on hold until the spring, according to the chapter's Facebook page.
Other notable Ducks Unlimited events that are tentatively scheduled for this fall include:
• Salina DU chapter banquet, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Oct. 3, Tony's Pizza Event Center. For more info, contact Kody Tremblay at 785-557-6679, Cade Hays at 785-643-2153 or Aaron Blair at 620-802-1016.
• Hunter Appreciation Breakfast, 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 10, Kansas Wetland Education Center, east side of Cheyenne Bottoms. Breakfast is free. For more info, contact Kim Schneweis at 620-282-9592 or Curtis Wolf at 877-243-9268.
• Southwest Kansas DU chapter dinner, 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 21, I Don't Care Restaurant and Sports Bar, 1510 W. Spruce Street in Dodge City. For more info, contact Matt Harris at 620-682-0565, Dan Harris at 620-339-7989 or Mike Clark at 620-408-8857.
• Pratt DU banquet, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Oct. 28, Pratt County 4-H building. For more info, contact Brian Arensdorf at 620-388-2371 or Kent Domsch at 620-770-1358.
• Northern Sedgwick Co. DU banquet, 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 5, Best Western North, 915 E. 53rd Street North in Park City. For more info, contact Tim Grant at 316-573-5089.
• Hays DU banquet, 5 to 10 p.m. Nov. 7, Ellis County Fairgrounds - Schenk Building in Hays. For more info, contact John Lang at 785-650-1543 or Jason Kuhn at 785-650-4777.