A covey of regulatory changes including new seasons, liberalization of equipment requirements and bag limits are awaiting hunters heading afield this fall and winter. Here are some of the most important -
• Crossbows will be legal for hunters of all ages, during any big game season in Kansas this year. Last year only youth and those 55 and older, and hunters in four select deer management units, could use crossbows during archery deer seasons. Chris Tymeson, Wildlife and Parks attorney, said the change was made to provide more opportunity for hunters.
Those hunting with a crossbow in the upcoming seasons must possess a Crossbow Hunter Survey Number, which are free and can be obtained at www.kdwpt.state.ks.us. Obtaining numbers allow the department to contact crossbow hunters after the 2013-14 seasons for survey purposes. Those hunting without the number could be issued a citation and fined.
• Deer can now be legally hunted with any centerfire cartridge or shotgun slug. The past law said .230 and 20 gauge were the respective minimums. Only expandable bullets are legal. Full metal jacket ammo remains illegal for big game hunting in Kansas.
Tymeson said the changes were made to help simplify the department’s deer hunting regulations, make it possible for hunters with only one centerfire rifle and youth to enjoy deer hunting.
There will also be a new statewide firearms season for antlerless whitetails Oct. 12-13. Regular permits and game tags will be honored. Archery hunting will be allowed that weekend, and archers can still bow-kill a buck with the proper permit and equipment. Bowhunters must, however, meet hunter orange deer hunting requirements those two days. Tymeson said the special two-day season was created by the legislature, in hopes of reducing deer numbers in some areas.
• Many kinds of electronic devices will now be legal for archery hunting, including rangefinders and cameras attached to bows. Transmission devices that aid in recovering arrowed deer and other big game will also be legal for the first time. Most attach to an arrow, then to the deer when it’s shot.
• All hunters hunting doves on public lands specifically managed for dove hunting, like the sunflower and wheat fields at about 20 Wildlife and Parks wildlife areas, must use non-toxic (non-lead) shot while dove hunting on those lands. Often seeing thousands of hunter days per field, the department wants to reduce the amount of lead in those areas at those times, and reduce the problem of doves and other birds injesting possibly toxic lead pellets.
The possession limit for doves will be 45, which is three times the daily bag limit of 15. Last year the possession limit was 30.
• Fall turkey season will remain open during the special Oct. 12-13 and January whitetail antlerless-only firearms deer seasons. During the Dec. 4-15 regular firearms deer season fall turkey season will be closed. In the past fall turkey hunting was closed during all firearms deer seasons.
• There is no longer a minimum gauge requirment for shotguns used for turkey hunting in Kansas. For years the 20 gauge was the smallest shotgun that was legal. Any hunter can use a crossbow during the state’s archery turkey season, too.
• Several daily bag limits on waterfowl have increased for the upcoming seasons, including a limit of six per day during the September teal season. During the regular seasons hunters will be able to shoot two canvasbacks per day, up from one last year. The limit is three scaup, down from six last season.
• The daily limit on Canada geese has been raised from three to six, and the daily limit on snow geese has increased from 20 to 50. The possession limits on all species of waterfowl will be three times their daily bag limit.