Upland Game Bird Season a Bright Spot for Kansas Hunters

Steve Gilliland
Special to the Globe

OK, now that we’ve all grown accustom to bad news in this glorious year 2020, this year’s upland game bird hunting forecast for Kansas appears to be a bright spot on the horizon.

Opening day of pheasant and quail season is Nov. 14, followed by the greater prairie chicken opener on Nov. 21.

Both seasons run through Jan. 31, 2021.

Data from the annual spring count surveys done by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) shows bird numbers for pheasants, quail and greater prairie chickens appear to be faring well, and opportunities for harvesting birds look promising.

The complete “2020 Kansas Upland Bird Forecast” is available online at www.ksoutdoors.com/Hunting/Upland-Birds.

Here are some highlights from the forecast:


Jeff Prendergast, small game specialist for KDWPT says data suggests Kansas may have one of the nations best opportunities to harvest quail this season.

“Our quail did amazing things again this year, especially in the north-central part of the state," Prendergast said. "I’ve had landowners tell me in the 40 or 50 years they’ve been farming they have never seen populations like this.”

Quail numbers look promising in south-central Kansas too, and southwestern and northeastern portions of the state saw significant population increases also.

“Hunters who want to focus on quail and take pheasants as they come should be pretty happy this year, Prendergast said.”


Prendergast says in short, pheasant populations this year in Kansas were greatly affected by the summer rains, making good hunting spots more fragmented than usual.

Hunters may find great numbers in one spot, then move only a couple miles and hardly find birds. Northwestern and north-central KS should have the best populations this year with numbers similar to last season, while pheasant numbers in the south-central portion of the state may be slightly down from last season.

Prairie Chickens

Greater prairie chicken numbers have declined in eastern regions of the state, but populations appear to have expanded in northwestern Kansas, so this fall, the best prairie chicken hunting will be in the Northern High Plains and the Smokey Hill Regions where numbers have increased or remained stable and where public access is more abundant.

As a reminder, prairie chicken hunters must purchase a special $2.50 Prairie Chicken Permit.

Kansas has 1.7 million acres of public access land scattered throughout the state, much of it enrolled in KDWPT’s popular Walk-In Hunting Access program, commonly known as WIHA.

New this year is access to WIHA on your mobile devise using the app iWIHA, where WIHA areas can actually be reserved in advance.

For more information on iWIHA and to find WIHA maps, check out the department’s website at www.ksoutdoors.com.

Calling the year 2020 tumultuous is being kind, so I can think of no better way of leaving 2020 behind for a few hours than to get everyone out of the house and into the field to experience some of Kansas’ extensive fall hunting opportunities.

Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors.

Steve can be contacted by email at stevenrgilliland@gmail.com