Wednesday’s opening of the general turkey season has become a big time event for many thousands of Kansans. Those heading afield should expect to find plenty of birds.
“Things are looking really good in the central part of the state,” said Jim Pitman, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism turkey biologist. “Where we have habitat in far western Kansas there are a really decent number of turkeys, too.
Pitman said the population is still lower than six or eight years ago in southeast Kansas. Several years of very poor hatches due to flooding knocked the population way down.
“We had about average production last year so people should see more jakes,” he said. “It probably won’t be as many adult birds as most people prefer but hopefully one more year of good production should get us headed in the right direction.”
Archers, youth and disabled hunters have been headed “in the right direction” since their special early turkey season opened on April 1.
“I think we’ve more than doubled the number of archery hunters. We’re up to close to 5,000 who use the seasons,” Pitman said. “About 4,500-6,000 youth have used the season the last several years. That’s pretty good.”
A growing number of non-resident archery hunters use the early Kansas season because it opens before turkey seasons in their home states. Many hunters come from the east to try for a tom of the Rio Grande subspecies in Kansas.
When asked for the best place in the state Pitman said, “Probably northcentral Kansas right now. It has a whole lot of public access and a whole lot of birds. It’s a good place to be if you’re a turkey hunter.
Much of the public ground is enrolled in Wildlife and Park’s spring Walk-In Hunting Area program. Go to www.kdwp.state.ks.us for more information.