ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
The tranquility of rural Marion County will be shattered Saturday morning when the upland game season officially opens for both pheasant and quail.
Beginning at one-half hour before sunrise, hunters from across the county, state and nation will invade areas that were safe havens for birds a few hours earlier.
This spring’s mild weather, coupled with favorable conditions in the early summer, signal another good year for the game-bird population, according to Randy Clark, public land supervisor for Region IV of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks in Wichita.
“In general, I’d say pheasant numbers are as good as, or better than, they were last year and the numbers of quail also look to be good,” he said.
“The population is up somewhat because of the favorable nesting conditions and weather conditions in general.
“It isn’t above the five-year average, though,” he added. “We had good numbers last year and I think this year should be very similar.”
As has been the case in recent history, daily bag limits for pheasant and quail remain constant from prior years. The pheasant limit is four and the limit for quail is eight.
In Marion County, pheasant and quail seasons open Nov. 12, but the schedule varies in western Kansas.
Clark said most laws remain unchanged although a wrinkle has been added for the younger hunters across the state in regard to hunter-safety certificates.
Hunters under the age of 16 are now allowed to hunt without having completed hunter education if they’re under the direct supervision of an adult age 18 or older.
“Other than those kids, anyone born after July 1, 1997, must have a hunter’s certificate,” he added. “They’re trying to make it so people can take their sons, or whoever, out until the age of 16, but after that it’s assumed you’ve had enough time to get the required hunter education.”
Marion County is home to about 10 Walk-In Hunting contracts that total 1,500 acres in addition to the 4,300 acres of public hunting available near Marion Reservoir.
“These are the only public hunting acres available in Marion County,” Clark said. “The main thing to avoid conflict is to stay off private land unless you have permission from the landowner.”
Clark said the season will run smoothly if hunters will take their time, follow the rules and practice good safety measures.
“Always know which way you’re shooting, and it’s a great idea to wear hunter orange even though it’s not a law for pheasant hunting,” he said.
“You still ought to do it for the safety aspect.”
Clark advised hunters to obtain a hunting regulation manual, which are available wherever hunting licenses are sold.
In Marion County, licenses are available at the KDWP offices, the Marion County courthouse, Canada Bait ‘N Tackle, Markley’s in Marion, the Marion County Lake office and at Alco in Hillsboro.
“I hope everyone has a great time and abides by the laws,” Clark said. “I think it’ll be a pretty good season unless it’s 80 degrees.”