The Kansas Department is Wildlife, Parks and Tourism recently released its annual Kansas Upland Bird Forecast, with an overall "Good" outlook across the state in 2020-21 for pheasants, quail and greater prairie chickens.


Here’s a rundown for each of those species and where they are thriving best in Kansas:


Pheasants


The department predicts a slight decline for pheasants across the state this year, though numbers in the northwest look to remain about the same.


"Opportunistic brood reports from department staff and others suggested that brood sizes were up this year," the forecast said. "However, summer brood survey results have estimated that there was a decrease in the overall pheasant abundance. ... Given the precipitation patterns through June were erratic, combined with the opportunistic reports, hunters will likely find that densities will vary widely on the landscape this season."


However, despite the apparent decline, the agency says Kansas continues to maintain one of the best pheasant populations in the country and "the fall harvest should again be among the leading states."


The northwestern portion of the Smoky Hills region, which includes Phillips, Rooks, Ellis and Trego counties, also looks to be a decent area for pheasant hunters in 2020.


Youth pheasant season runs from Nov. 7-8, with the regular season running from Nov. 14 to Jan. 31, 2021. Daily bag limits are two roosters during youth season and four during the regular season statewide.


Quail


The Kansas quail population has seen a boom in recent years and will again be among the highest harvests in the U.S. this fall, according to the KDWPT. The population saw stable or even higher populations across most of the state, with the notable exception being a decline in the southeast.


The state says the best hunting opportunities for quail will be in the central regions, though plenty of quality hunting will be available in the other regions.


The Southcentral Prairies region, which includes Reno, Pratt and Kiowa counties, among others, saw the second-highest regional index on the roadside survey this year, with the highest counts in the western half of the region and some declines in the eastern half.


The Smoky Hills region to the north maintained the highest roadside index across the state for 2020 after large increases last year and stable numbers again this year, the report said. Densities were highest in the northern half, which includes Rooks, Ottawa, Cloud, Jewell and Republic counties, among others.


As for the Flint Hills region, the report states quail production was likely impeded by above-average burning, which limited nesting cover.


"Hunters will find the best success in areas that maintained nearby nesting cover and have retained shrub cover that has been removed from large areas of the region during invasive species control," the forecast said. "The northern half of the region recorded the highest roadside indices this year."


The youth quail season runs from Nov. 7-8, with the regular season following from Nov. 14 until Jan. 31, 2021. Daily bag limits are four birds in the youth season and eight during the regular season statewide.


Greater prairie chickens


Hunting opportunities for greater prairie chickens look to be best in the Northern High Plains and Smoky Hills regions of the state, where populations have been increasing or stable. Hunting opportunities will remain similar to 2019 in the Flint Hills region despite heavier burning this year thanks to abundant summer rainfall totals creating good brood cover.


The Southwest Prairie Chicken Unit, where lesser prairie chickens are also found, remains closed to prairie chicken hunting this year.


The prairie chicken season throughout the rest of the state runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and Nov. 21 to Jan. 31, 2021, with a daily bag limit of two.