Officials at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge want to remind hunters most hunting regulations remain unchanged for the 2013-14 hunting seasons.
Mike Oldham, refuge manager, is concerned some may have become confused because the refuge has been working to set up a comprehensive conservation plan. The plans are reviewed, and possibly changed, every 15 years. He expects the new plan to be announced later this fall, but it won’t be implemented until after the 2013-14 hunting seasons.
Again this year, the entire refuge will be closed to hunting when whooping cranes are present.
Possible changes in the upcoming conservation plan could include allowing hunting on the refuge while whoopers are present, but making areas where they commonly gather closed to hunting all year. Limited deer and turkey hunting on the refuge in the future are also possible.
“We’ll be sure to get the word out before the (2014-15) hunting seasons,” Oldham said. “We don’t want to wait and spring anything on anybody.”
For more details, go to www.fws.gov/refuge/quivira/.
Matt Peek, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism pronghorn antelope biologist, said summer fawn production was again below average across most of the animals’ range, which is roughly the western one-fourth of the state and south of I-70. A recent survey showed about 40 fawns per 100 does in the northern part of the range, and as low as 18 per 100 in the southern portion of the range. Ideally biologists like to see at least 60 to 80 fawns per 100 does.
In some areas, it’s the third consecutive poor fawn crop, meaning there could be fewer adult pronghorns for hunters for several seasons.
The department has reduced the number of firearms and muzzleloader permits, but the harvest isn’t dropping, largely because of unlimited archery permits.
“The interest in archery pronghorn hunting is growing in leaps and bounds,” Peek said. “Last year we sold about 380 permits. Ten years ago it was about 100.”
Peek said about 100 more archers took to the prairies for pronghorns last fall than in 2011.
Last fall’s archery kill of about 50 pronghorns is up significantly compared to years ago, when it was normally less than 20.
The archery kill could go higher this year, with the liberalization of crossbow laws allowing any hunter to use a crossbow during archery big-game seasons.
For years, only hunters with an approved disability could use a crossbow during an archery season. Last season, all younger than 16 or older than 54 were allowed to use the weapons.
“We used to average two or three, but last year we had 12 crossbow hunters,” Peek said. “Nine of the 12 were able to use them because of their age.”
The 12 crossbow hunters killed five pronghorns for a success rate of about 42 percent. The success rate of those using regular archery equipment is usually around 15 percent.