Kansas deer hunters may have fewer opportunities to shoot antlerless white-tailed deer this fall and winter. The The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism will state their case for shortening special season lengths, and season bag limits, in some parts of Kansas at Thursday’s commission meeting in Topeka.
“Our deer numbers have dropped the last couple of years, so we’re backing off on some of the antlerless-only opportunities where we’ve seen the decline,” said Lloyd Fox, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism big-game program coordinator. “Overall our deer herd is still in pretty good shape, but we have some areas where there certainly aren’t as many as there were.”
Fox said plans are to shorten, or remove, the January season that’s held for antlerless whitetails. There will be no January season in deer management unit 18, and the season will be Jan. 1-4 in units 6, 9, 10 and 17. The biologist said deer numbers appear to be down in units 9 and 10, in northeast Kansas, because of drought-related diseases and because of several years of severe drought in units 17 and 18.
“Unit 6 has always been an unusual unit, there we just seem to have some low densities,” Fox said. “Generally the central part of the state is pretty solid.”
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Fox’s proposal would be Jan. 1-11, the traditional season that includes two weekends, in units 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 16. Units 15 (around Wichita) and 19 would have a Jan.1-18 season.
“Those are areas where we have high deer densities and high human densities,” Fox said of the areas with the 18-day January season.
Hunters in unit 18 will not be able to purchase special whitetail antlerless-only permits for any season this fall and winter, the first time a unit hasn’t allowed such permits in several years. Units 6, 9, 10, 14 and 17 will allow hunters up to two of the whitetail antlerless-only permits, as well as an any-deer permit. The rest of the units will allow up to five of the special antlerless permits, plus the any-deer permit.
Even with the reduction in season days and season limits, Fox said most hunters won’t notice a lot of new limitations. He said of the about 121,000 deer hunters in Kansas last season, only about 3,500 bought more than two whitetail antlerless-only permits.
“What it does, is it sends a message that we’re cutting back opportunities on antlerless whitetail deer,” Fox said. “We’ll continue to do so in areas where we see the declines.”
Mike Miller, Wildlife and Parks, information chief, expects the following at the meeting:
• The agency will formally announce that fishing licenses will not be required at any Kansas water on June 7 and 8 as part of National Fishing and Boating Week. Also, all state parks will be holding open-house events on March 29, and admission to the parks that day will be free.
• As per commission request, agency biologists will report on research concerning the legal use of tracking dogs, usually leashed, to locate wounded or dead big game. The topic is expected to see further discussion with the commission and public at the meeting.
• Miller said discussion is expected on the current regulation that forbids hunting the same day a deer or wild turkey permit is purchased. He said it may be a limiting factor for some people to go hunting, and the new licensing system makes it easy to tell exactly when a permit is purchased.
The meeting will be at the Kansas Historical Society History Center, 6425 SW 6th, Topeka. Sessions are at 1 and 6:30 p.m.