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North Central KS bad luck?
Sitting here waiting on some new tires, I got to thinking about my experience on public land in north central Kansas this year. I hunted from Wichita all the way up to the Nebraska border on walk-in properties and was terribly skunked for about 11 Days straight of hard all day hunting and scouting between October 25 in November 15th. Hunted with my fiancé and a friend from out of state who had similar experience. In 11 days of hunting I saw 3 bucks from the stand, all forkies.
I also hunted Se Kansas and no big bucks seen but was at least seeing good deer numbers and a few bucks? Very weird year for us. Killed a good buck on the 17th south of wichita on private.
I’m wondering? Was this North Central area hit with EHD? What has been your experience? Last year seemed quite a bit better for us up there. Or maybe I just sucked at hunting this year.
The craziest thing is how few deer I jumped while scouting also. I think two or three total!?
I saw far less deer in west central Kansas.
Numbers seemed to be down in SE Kansas. Almost no road kill.
I was just south of Wichita for 10 days saw 40+ bucks 5-6 were 4 1/2 years old or better. The best day I had I saw 13 different bucks of which one was a shooter. I hunted the same area last year and saw less bucks.
Maybe someone F and G could give you a better answer regarding EHD. Have a great new year.
Wasn't there but the no road kill is telling. I regularly go back from MT to MN for deer and when going east before the rut, deer kill is rare on the freeway. Returning after and during the rut there are a lot of bucks dead on the freeway.
I bird hunt NCK every year through the month of January. We hunt some big beautiful WIHAs that seem to be void of deer. That being said, 4 years ago we saw a lot of deer.
Michael, when I click on your user name it says you're from Oklahoma so I assume you're a non-resident of Kansas. Non residents are only allowed to hunt two adjacent units when they draw a tag. So my question is how are you able to hunt from Wichita all the way to Nebraska which looks like it would be 3 units and also hunt in another unit(s) in southeast Kansas?
FWIW, this was only my 3rd year hunting Kansas so I don't have a lot to compare it to but I was satisfied with the number and quality of bucks I saw and I killed a 150" class buck on 11/13.
Shug I was speaking of north of Wichita, numbers seem good south of Wichita where are you are speaking of
And no Cheesehead, I have been a resident here in Kansas for over two years just hadn’t changed my profile
And cheesehead Mike also I was not referring to the state as a whole but to the north central region, is that where you were hunting?
Forest I live in wichita and drive to a satellite clinic each Wednesday in Pittsburgh KS on hwy 400 I always make a mental note each year of the number of deer and it was down significantly this year but I suspect that was also due to the reduced traffic from the Covid concerns?
I went back up to north central Kansas pheasant hunting this last weekend. Walked some beautiful looking walk ins without laying eyes on a single deer and normally our dog finds those things well I swear he loves deer hunting more than pheasants
I'm up and down 54 400 and 99. Road kill seemed wayyyy down
Gotcha. Yes I was in north central Kansas. But I have a different perspective. I used to hunt far northern Wisconsin where deer numbers were always relatively low. But now wolves have wiped out the herd and you're lucky to see one buck in an entire season. It's all about your perspective I guess but I'm not doubting you guys that numbers have declined in parts of Kansas.
my family's farm is in North Central Ks. and yes, the numbers are down around that area without a doubt.
Cheese head, public or private hunting? Shawn
Congrats on your buck Mike!
Just across the border in south central Nebraska and the property I hunt was way down on whitetail numbers.
I hunted an area in eastern Colorado that is on the KS border. I didn't see any whitetail deer in the unit where I typically see 2-3 per day. I didn't see any on the roads while driving in and out in the dark, numbers seem to be way down.
Cole, I also hunted Nebraska this year for the first time. Passed up a small fork horn buck. I saw more deer in Nebraska than central Kansas by far which was odd. Especially while scouting. Still seemed low though for what I was expecting
Thanks Michael. I've been thinking about trying Nebraska too.
Very nice, Mike!! I have noy gone to Kansas in years but I hunt NW Kansas. I have never seen a ton of deer but always some great bucks! Shawn
I have hunted NW KS since 2000 .... each year, deer numbers and big buck numbers have dwindled, especially when outfitters started leasing up and selling 5-7 day hunts. THAT is the #1 killer of KS deer IMO .... guys fork out $4,000 and last day they shoot a 120-130 buck .... and when 20-30 guys do that on a creek bottom it really hurts longterm
EHD / CWD matters too I imagine but if outfitters were banned tomorrow in KS and tags for non-res reduced by 50% ... by 2025 I think it would be a huge difference
I hunted north central Kansas and Nebraska right on the Kansas border for 6 weeks.
My experience was the opposite. In Kansas, the numbers were about the same as every other year, maybe slightly up. Definitely not down. Trophy quality was down but that's a completely different issue.
My central Kansas property has been trending up since we got rid of the poachers hunting next to us a few years ago. That property went way up in population in just 2 years.
In Nebraska, the numbers are definitely up. We got hit hard about 6 years ago with EHD and the numbers have been slowly coming up each year since. This year the numbers seemed a lot better. Closer to normal.
That's my experience in the areas that I hunt. EHD can hit one property very hard and not affect a property 2 miles away. Your problem could be EHD or it could be over hunting. The only real way of knowing would be to interview hunters and landowners next to what you are hunting. That's not an easy survey to take.
Jim, How would you explain the lack road kill over a 50 mile radius that i experienced
The deer in Oklahoma seamed to have vanished too. It’s Texas and Iowa for whitetails now. ;)
I'm not sure I can explain the lower number of road kills. I noticed the same thing even in areas where the population wasn't down at all.
I hate to use this term because I've always denied it but the rut was off this year. There I said it. I've always poo pooed that statement because the does always give birth the same time, year after year. They are getting bred whether you see it or not. This was the first time I've experienced a significant down turn in the out of control chasing that you normally see from November 6 on. I also know guys who had pictures of bucks breeding does almost 2 weeks early. I've never seen that before.
I can only give first hand experience. My in person observations and trail camera data showed that the population was steady if not trending up. I saw just as many bucks from that stand as always, more in some places. I keep a journal and study years past to see what was going on in years past. I saw bucks locked down and chasing hard but I also saw more big bucks just cruising, which is what I like best. I also had pictures of more big bucks alone in that mid November range when they typically disappear for days at a time. It was a weird year and I heard that from lots of guys.
Did that cold spell in October bring the does into heat early? I've always doubted that happens but I saw proof for the first time ever. Did that spread out the breeding over a longer period so it was less chaotic? That is my best guess. I also think that there was something happening that slowed down or spread out the rutting activity. I have no idea what that was but it was different this year.
What I do know for sure is that I had pictures of more P&Y bucks on 2 of the 4 places I hunt than I have had in a long time. The trophy quality was off about 15" at the top end this year, which I can only attribute to the really dry weather last spring. Poor food quality during early antler growth. 160" was the top end on any of my properties where I usually have a couple over 170" and certainly higher if you are talking gross. I have no other explanation for that.
It is possible that EHD was a problem but that had to be very localized because I didn't hear of anyone finding dead deer in August and September when EHD kills the most. It just couldn't have been a statewide problem or we would have heard about it from all over.
Since you bring it up, this post and the one earlier by NCK are the only places I've heard people saying the population is down significantly. None of the guys I communicate with during the hunt shared these feelings. Most noticed the trophy quality being off but not the overall population.
Let's consider another option. Kansas has some great deer but compared to a lot of states doesn't have a lot of deer. If you are hunting areas that can tend to be over hunted then you could be hunting way fewer deer.
The guys I communicate with either own land, lease land or have friend and family land tied up that doesn't get over hunted. We all have issues with neighbors and poachers but we keep pretty close tabs on the deer that we hunt. We don't over hunt by any means. All of these friends had good to average seasons.
If you are hunting WIHA, private land that has multiple hunters, next to properties that get over hunted or next to an outfitter that shoots too many deer, things could be bad. There are areas that get way over hunted and areas that are thankfully overlooked. The land around my central Kansas property gets hunted unbelievably hard but for some reason tends to have bigger bucks. That area has more cover which allows bucks to survive in spite of the constant pressure.
While the NR tag numbers are limited, the resident tags are not. If hunting participation trended with all other outdoor activities for 2020, then there would have been significantly more resident hunters out hunting. If more people are trying to fill their freezers, it will have an impact. I don't believe that would have happened early enough in the season to explain the lower deer numbers that you all experienced but it wouldn't surprise me to see the harvest data up this year. More hunters will push deer off of public hunting areas quicker than normal.
Cheesehead Mike is that 150 you are referring to the one in your profile picture?
I thought the rut was watered down. Temps were all over the board. Different year for sure.
South Central KS. Great rut hunting for me this yr. Watched a buck breed a doe off and on for a couple of hours. Decoyed 5 bucks in one afternoon. Lots of daylight activity. One of the best seasons I've ever had.
I hunted over 60 days this year. Saw rutting activity until last week and passed over 40 bucks.
Had a great season in Kansas as usual. Some of you guys know where.
it was an off year for sure. My best days are the 6th thru the 9th. With temps in the 80’s and high winds it’s going to suppress movement and that is exactly what we had for weather on those days.
I don’t think SE Nebraska / NE Kansas have recovered from the 2012 EHD outbreak. At least not as well as what’s reported.
Easygo, yes he grosses 149 6/8. In my book that's "150 class".
This is not one of those I’m down playing Kansas because I’m from Kansas but, I’m not seeing the numbers in the SE part of the state I used to and I live here year round ( of course could just be my properties I’m hunting ).
The field photo of your buck made it look smaller......I can see the score with the second photo of the cape and head:)
I drive down every year through Montana and Wyoming, across Colorado and into Kansas on I-70. I normally drop south at Hays and hunt south central Kansas. I had a good hunt but was baffled with the warm weather in mid November. I saw virtually ZERO road kills through Wyoming and TWO in Kansas. That's both ways and last year I counted 12 rack bucks laying along the road just through Wyoming. I went back through trail cam pics with my buddy in Kansas and they had snow and cold in late October (22nd maybe?) and big buck photos and rut activity early. It seemed low key and suppressed in our areas up through mid November. Pockets of activity but not the crazy free-for-all I hope to see every year.
Another friend of mine that hunts a large lease in the same area had 3 giant bucks chase one doe that was in heat and the victor bred her within a couple hundred yards of his stand. That occurred on November 1st which I consider early as well.
ROUGH COUNTRY, yeah the field photos don't really do it justice. When I brought it to my taxidermist he said "wow that's a big buck". I think he was surprised because he had only seen the field photo too. That being said, it would net 12" or so lower.
This conversation has really sparked my interest and caused me to spend more time trying to figure this out.
I just finished listing to Barry Wensel on Ryan Furrer's podcast. Barry said the same exact thing. It was the worst rut he could ever remember. He also said he didn't see a single road kill between his house and the town where he does his shopping, 18 miles on a paved road. He did not think the population was down, he thought they did most of their rutting in the dark.
Ryan lives in Pennsylvania and he said the same thing. Weird rut and no road kills. He does think the population is down in his area.
Kansas, Iowa and Pennsylvania and we all experienced the same thing for rutting activity.
I also contacted a friend who works for Farm Bureau Ins. He said deer/car claims were way down but all claims were way down. They generally blame fewer miles being driven due to covid.
I thought about the times I drove between my south property, north property (60miles) and Nebraska lease (110 miles). A lot of the time I'm driving from place to place after dark. In years past, I would probably average at least one close call with deer on every trip after dark. This past year, I only recall a couple of close calls in 6 weeks.
We do know that the deer population is trending down in most areas. Blamed on habitat loss, predators, CWD, liberal licenses, etc. It will be interesting to see what next year looks like.
Couple of these guys aren't hunting at all Jim, just sitting corn piles, can't judge anything about the rut from that. I hunted over 50 days, drove over 8k miles and saw less roadkill and mature bucks than any season I can remember. This was spread out over 10 different farms in SC KS.
Need to eliminate baiting and cut NR tags, that will stop a lot of the leasing...and killing of younger bucks as well IMO.
Here's something to consider for you guys who would like to see fewer nonresident hunters.
I would have never started looking at places like Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, etc if wolves hadn't decimated the deer herd in northern Wisconsin. I also know of other Wisconsin residents who have branched out for the same reason.
So for you guys in wolf free states who are blissfully unaware of the wolf problems up north you may actually be affected without even knowing it. Therefore even though wolves might not affect you directly it might be in your best interest to be aware of the situation and support proper management and adequate harvest of wolves. Just say'n...
We saw less mature bucks this season during the usual rut dates in western Kansas. We still saw a lot of deer just only a few big ones and they were in about the first 20 minutes of light and then they were bedded up most of the day. It was also 60-80 degrees during our hunts too.
The decreased road kill observations could very easily be entirely due to not as many people on the road due to COVID.
Good observation Ike. I drive 125 miles one way to my farm each weekend. I observed a lot less road kills, and traffic, than in any previous year.
Living in wolf country myself, I'd have to say may be a little logic to what you say Cheesehead, even if I hate to agree with a probable Badger fan. Just say'n...
Yeah, well you're probably a Viking fan and I won't hold that against you... I may however offer my sympathy ;-)
Chuck’s used to disappointment......He’s a Gopher fan, too....;-)
sitO, I now understand your handle name now! sitO I believe is short for “sit out”? As in, “I’ll sit this one out.” You come on here condemning anyone that hunts over bait as not being a hunter. Yet you refuse to do anything to change things. You openly ignore others that reach out to you to get involved to do something. So I will tell you point blank...PUT UP OR SHUT UP!!! Get involved and do something or stop your bitching, whining and complaining and being an ASS about people that put out bait!!!
"The decreased road kill observations could very easily be entirely due to not as many people on the road due to COVID." Probably not. Maybe in CA? Not in Kansas or Colorado. Just as many on our roads as before Covid. I spent 3 days in Kansas bird hunting last week and never saw or wore a mask in any place we went. It was a nice break.
Had I posted that, you would have been enraged I was spreading the virus. Good job Quinn
Thornton, what does your post have anything to do with the topic? Oh that's right it doesn't.
Your normal post would of been something like this..... The lack of roadkills are directly related to the amount of non-residents killing so many deer on their leases where Kansas residents can't hunt.
All too often you come across as someone with no education at all but you had to obviously have some as you are a nurse right?
Sorry, back to the topic....
I'm from east Texas and have been traveling to SE Kansas for the last 20yrs bowhunting and this past season was by far the best I've seen in years. We hunt for a week each year and usually hunt all day the whole week. Seen over 10 different shooters and 3 of them being over 170 class deer. Although I was usually in the wrong tree to make it all come together, it was by far the best week I have personally had in Kansas. No, I didn't kill one, but what a site to see and experience. They were rutting wide open the entire time we hunted and it's almost impossible to pull a mature buck off of a doe.
I didn't hunt Kansas last year, but I can say without a doubt that deer numbers were way down around my place in central Colorado. And I didn't see any bucks that I consider "trophy" class. I usually have 2-3 running around. Oddly, hunting pressure was also way down in my area. I don't know if that was due to lack of deer, or some other reason.
My cousin in east central Kansas had decent numbers of deer, but he didn't have any mature bucks, either. That's been a reoccurring theme on his farm for several years now. Each year, he passes on 3.5 yr old bucks with good potential, but never sees them again the next year. Overall, I think Kansas is a mere shadow of the quality hunting state is used to be. I attribute that to outfitting, and over-publicizing on TV and social media. Kinda sad.
Interesting where this thread takes turns off course. My personal experience (and that of several hunters I know) is that it was a great season and rut movement was awesome this year. With that said I've ran a few trailcams and have seen few mature bucks since rifle season ended. I'm chalking it up to a couple of things; one being that deer patterns always change after rifle season, and two being that I know for a fact that disease, hunting, and poaching took a large number of mature bucks off of our place in the last year. Per my observations a lot more mature bucks died in the last year than I've ever experienced before. It makes me wonder what next year will be like. In the area's in question with lower numbers than normal... was last year a great hunting year? Did poaching ramp up due to covid shutdowns? Did disease run rampant?
I would think the extremely warm weather this year had to have an affect on deer movement.
I've been told that a lot of Kansas residents bait but I have no idea if that's true. I do know that in northern Wisconsin the presence of bait will reduce the amount of natural deer movement and if it's really cold the deer will bed close to the bait and move even less. Maybe that's true in Kansas too with bait and unusually warm weather...?
The early cold snap with a snow we had in SC KS was all that was needed for the best pre-rut I've ever seen here. Lots of nice ones fell that week. I watched rut activity during the entire rifle season and into late bow season in Mid December. Saw close to 40 bucks with 8 points or less and most were young. The nonresidents from Tennessee echoed my same observations. They said they had bigger bucks on their home farms in Tennessee and all 4 of them went home without pulling the trigger on anything more than a coyote.