Deer Hunting in Kansas

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  • B
  • 685,000

    Est. Whitetail Population

  • 108,000

    No. Licenses Sold Annually

  • $70 and up

    Hunting license is $27.50. Deer tag is $42.50.

    Resident hunting license and deer permit

  • $540 and up

    Hunting license is $97.50. Deer tag is $442.50. If you don’t draw a tag, preference points are $26.50. The optional mule deer stamp (which validates your deer tag as whitetail or mule deer) is $152.50.

    Non-resident hunting license and deer permit

  • 200"

    The top-scoring Kansas typical was taken in 1995 by Albert J. Daniels. It’s the 19th-largest typical whitetail on record.

    Record B&C Typical Stat

  • 481

    Total B&C Typical Entries

  • 321 3/8"

    Killed by Brian Butcher in Chase County in 2019. The buck is the 4th-largest nontypical whitetail on record.

    Record B&C Non-Typical Stat

  • 431

    Record B&C Non-Typical Entries

Art Helin arrowed this big Kansas buck. Image courtesy of Art Helin

Season Dates (2021):

Archery season opens September 13 and runs through December 31. Muzzleloader season is September 13-26. Firearms season is December 1-12. Youth and disability season is September 4-12. There are also extended archery and firearms seasons for certain areas. These are the dates set when published. Please check the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism website to confirm.

The Grade: B

Kansas hasn’t received an A for quite a while now. There are several reasons for that. The “secret” of Kansas hunting is out, hunters have flocked there, and the hunting quality now reflects that. Nonresident hunting license sales have steadily increased throughout the years, and public lands reflect it. Overall harvest isn’t close to what it was in the late ’90s and has been declining ever since 2010. Plus, tags are expensive, and becoming more so. Third, there isn’t a lot of public land. The state’s Walk-In Hunting Access (WIHA) program isn’t as robust as it once was. Each year, the properties enrolled in the program change, decrease in number, and seem to decline in quality. Lastly, more nonresident hunters apply every year, which means it’s even harder to draw. Leftover tags are almost a thing of the past.

Still, the Sunflower State’s whitetail hunting is good, even by Midwestern standards, especially on private and public areas with good management. This is still a solid destination for both resident and nonresident deer hunters.

“I expect a fairly average season if we get summer rains as needed. If not, we have the potential to see an EHD outbreak,” said Levi Jaster, big-game program coordinator for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. “And 2020 also was the first time in several years that resident hunter numbers increased, so there may be strong hunter numbers afield this fall. Nonresident applications increased 27% in 2021 year over year from 2020. While it is still reasonably possible to draw a permit with no points in Kansas, it is likely going to get harder in coming years.”

Antler Nation Knowledge:

For those who pull a tag and find a spot to go, the early muzzleloader season is greatly underutilized. Only 7,000 hunters carry a smoke pole during that season. Plus, deer are still in summer patterns at that time. Also, according to Kansas officials, very few hunters go afield during October. You can find yourself with little competition during this period.

Regarding trophy potential, the eastern half of the state cranks out Booners on a consistent basis. Anderson, Bourbon, Butler, Chautauqua, Cowley, Crawford, Doniphan, Greenwood, Jefferson, Linn, Lyon, Marion, Republic, Riley, Pottawatomie, and Shawnee take top honors in that region. The south-central part of the state does well, too. Barber, Clark, Comanche, Harper, Kingman, Reno, and Sumner are all contenders. Records aside, don’t forget about the prairie country to the southwest. Few hunters consider it, and those who do find pleasant surprises along timbered creek drainages.

“Kansas has very little public land available to hunters, but the KDWP managers on those public lands do an outstanding job,” Jaster said. “Typically, our public lands have higher deer numbers than the DMU they occur in, but they also have substantially higher hunting pressure too. The best thing a hunter can do that wants to hunt public land in Kansas is research what properties are available in the DMUs they are hunting in and try to find those overlooked spots. Also, check out the WIHA properties and look for overlooked pockets of deer habitat on those.”

Finally, note that regulations changed to allow hunters to quarter an antlerless deer in the field without first electronically registering it. However, they must still check game and retain proof of sex attached to a hindquarter until they do so. This change is to help prevent the spread of CWD by leaving high-risk carcass parts (with the most prions) at the kill site.

Kansas Harvests

  • John Hahn

    Finney, Kansas

  • Colette Coursey

    Elk , Kansas

From the Realtree Trophy Den