Among pheasant hunting states, rankings are assigned based on the number of birds harvested in a season, which is dependent upon the number of pheasants available. Although South Dakota consistently ranks first, Kansas pheasant hunting can rank from second to fourth depending on the pheasant population that year. Kansas pheasant hunting offers a varied habitat of tall grass, draws and crop fields, which gives hunters a choice of locations in the event one area has experienced severe weather conditions, adversely affecting pheasant numbers, and limiting hunting opportunities.
Since so much of the Kansas pheasant hunting habitat is crop fields, the condition of the wheat crop is very important to the outcome of the pheasant nesting season. Most of the spring hatch occurs the second week of June, so the condition of the wheat crop and the timing of the harvest are crucial to the survival of the chicks. A harvest too early will decrease the success of the nesting, while a later one, even of a week or ten days, will make a significant difference in the nesting results. Also, hot, dry conditions can take a great toll on the pheasant chicks, which are very sensitive to extreme weather, consequently, prolonged periods of drought have taken a toll on the pheasant population over the past several years.
Changing agricultural methods have also affected Kansas pheasant hunting as well as in other pheasant hunting states. More use of herbicide, more intensive planting practices and shorter wheat stubble have all combined to decrease pheasant numbers over the last 20 years by eliminating much of the habitat the pheasants need. In an effort to reverse the trend of diminishing pheasant habitat, the organization Pheasants Forever was started to preserve and restore pheasant hunting habitat by helping to restore habitat, educate the public and influence federal farm policies, which have had such a huge impact on farming practices over the years.
In 1995 a program to boost Kansas pheasant hunting, the Walk-In Hunting Area Program, was instituted, quickly becoming a success with over 1 million acres of private land enrolled to provide expanded hunting opportunities. Landowners who allow access for public hunters, who do not need to get prior permission, will receive a payment determined by the number of acres enrolled and the length of the contract. Various types of habitat are represented in the enrolled acres, the land is posted with identifying signs, and the areas are patrolled. Hunters, for no additional charge, are given a guaranteed destination, and only walk-in traffic is allowed. The additional acres provided by the Walk-In program have reduced crowded conditions in other popular hunting areas and expanded desirable hunting areas for visiting hunters who come to Kansas for Kansas pheasant hunting.