Casts and Blasts from Pheasant Opener, 2012

A few things that didn’t make Sunday’s Outdoors page feature on the opening of a pheasant hunting season with few pheasants and few hunters. YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ THE STORY.

— Returning from hunting mule deer in western Kansas Friday afternoon, it seemed strange to see “vacancy” signs on motels in Scott City, Dighton and Ness City. All three towns have long histories of great pheasant hunting, and motel rooms booking up a year in advaces.

A rooster pheasant that escaped hunters Saturday morning, Kansas’ opening of pheasant season.

– Cris Collier, Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau president estimated motels in her town would only have about 60-percent occupancy for the weekend. Rare has it been for years, for there to be even one room available for the opening of pheasant season. Collier said the drought has hit Great Bend businesses even harder than in most towns because thousands of nights’ lodging and meals are usually sold to people enjoying Cheyenne Bottoms. It’s been mostly dry through all of the waterfowl seasons.

– “Worst ever” seemed to be the common cry from hunters I spoke with, or heard about. The worst was a group of 40 hunters that shot just seven pheasants on opening day. That’s 1/6th a bird per hunter…easy to divide up the bag though….every hunter could go home with one pheasant leg, wing or breast half. In past seasons I’ve heard of many groups of 20 or more getting limits on opening day.

– Phil Kirkland, the game warden I featured in the article, knows a thing or 200 about quality pheasant hunting. Kirkland, 60, started pheasant hunting near his boyhood home in Dodge City back in the famed Soil Bank days of the early 1960s. He was also a game warden in bird-rich northwest Kansas in the mid to late-1980s, when CRP was in its beginning.

- Kirkland also knows a bit about bowhunting. For about 10 years a typical mule deer buck he arrowed was the Kansas state record. He’s also one of the most avid, and successful. trappers in the state, too.