Kansas Preps For September Bird Swing

PRATT, KS -- Kansas duck hunters don't have long to wait before seasons open. The early teal season runs Sept. 17-25 in the High Plains (west of U.S. 283) and Sept. 10-25 in the Low Plains (east of U.S. 283), and there should be plenty of birds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that blue-winged teal numbers are 91 percent above their long-term average (a record), and green-winged teal numbers, although down from last year, are still 47 percent above their long-term average.

The only problem is lack of water. Long-term drought throughout much of the state may make finding migrating waterfowl difficult unless rainfall hits critical marshes in late August and early September. If that happens, Kansas could have an excellent opening waterfowl season.

"We still have time," says Carl Grover, manager of Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, near Great Bend, one of the premier marshes in the country. "One storm could change everything." Grover adds that the Bottoms will probably not be as good as last year, but there will be water. The holding pool had about 39 inches of water as of Aug. 23, and staff plan to release water to pools 3B, 4B, and 5.

Nearby Quivira National Wildlife Refuge also reports that they are moving some water, and they are "cautiously optimistic" that they'll have water for teal season. Farther east, McPherson Valley Wetlands reports that as of Aug. 3, only pools 8 and 15 in the Big Basin have any water. At Neosho Wildlife Area in southeast Kansas, the refuge pool is 2 feet low. Area staff have been pumping for about two weeks to fill ditches in both Pool 1 and Pool 2. However, they have had several inches of rain recently, which should help finish out the moist plant soil seed production.

Localized areas of the state have had good rainfall at times this summer, so good hunting may be found in many areas of the state, both public and private. For weekly updates on public waterfowl management areas, visit the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) website, www.kdwpt.state.ks.us, and click "Hunting/Migratory Birds/ Waterfowl Reports." KDWPT biologists will begin updating these sites about Sept. 1. Phoning the nearest KDWPT office may be the best way to decide where to hunt. Theses numbers may be found on the website under "KDWPT Info/Locations."