Moisture needed for good pheasants this fall

Opening weekend of pheasant season is still eight months away but biologists are already showing some concern for this year’s crop of birds in western Kansas.

With very little snow for moisture, much of western Kansas is needing some timely rains for both the wheat and pheasant crops.

Much of the region from about Highway 283 (Hays) westward is in a pretty long dry spell. A good friend in Scott City has only had about five inches of very dry snow since Sept. 12. That doesn’t bode well for nesting hen pheasants.

“It’s been awful dry and that’s not good,” said Jim Pitman, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism small game biologist. “That means vegetation and wheat won’t be getting a good start. It’s not too late, though. We could get some rain and still get a good spurt of  vegetation.”

Pitman said many of western Kansas’ hen pheasants nest in growing wheatfields. The thicker and taller the wheat the better the nesting success, generally.

With high grain prices it’s also possible a lot of farmers may disk poorly-growing wheat fields and plant it to milo, corn or soybeans. Sure can’t blame them for that. Pheasants seldom nest in such crops.

Ideal pheasant nesting conditions is a wet spring and a great wheat crop that’s harvested about two weeks later than usual.