Early season prairie chicken hunters can cover miles in a day’s hunt
PRATT – The early prairie chicken season (Northwest and East units),, gives bird hunters a unique opportunity to walk up greater prairie chickens and work bird dogs long before traditional upland bird seasons open. The early season was established to provide additional hunting opportunity for this tallgrass prairie icon and let hunters enjoy a true one-of-a-kind grassland hunt.
The traditional prairie chicken season isin the East and Northwest units, and in the Southwest Unit, and during this season, most prairie chickens are taken by pass shooting. Hunters scout feed fields near large tracts of native prairie for feeding prairie chickens, and then take up stations around feed fields well before sunrise. As the sun crests the horizon, prairie chickens will lift out of the prairies and fly to feed. Hunters lucky enough to be positioned in just the right spot may get shots. However, prairie chickens are strong fliers and challenging quarry for expert wingshots. Prairie chickens rarely flush within shotgun range of walking hunters during the regular season.
During the early season, flocks of young birds are more likely to hold for walking hunters and pointing dogs. However, prairie chickens are truly birds of the prairie, and hunters will walk many miles of grassland to find birds. While it can seem like finding a needle in a haystack, the unique hunting opportunity, scenery and connection to the prairie keeps hunters coming back.
All prairie chicken hunters must have a $2.50 prairie chicken permit in addition to a hunting license. Permits may be purchased wherever licenses are sold and online. Information provided by hunters at the time of purchase will help biologists estimate prairie chicken harvest and hunting pressure.
During the early season, the daily bag limit for prairie chickens in the East and Northwest zones is 2, and the possession limit is 8. For more information and a map of prairie chicken hunting zones, go to www.ksoutdoors.com.