Michael Pearce

Some Kansas deer hunters to see reduced opportunities this year

Permits for buck and doe mule deer will be lowered for the coming seasons in western Kansas. Opportunities to shoot whitetail does will decrease in units 8 and 16.
Permits for buck and doe mule deer will be lowered for the coming seasons in western Kansas. Opportunities to shoot whitetail does will decrease in units 8 and 16. The Wichita Eagle

Mule deer in western Kansas, and whitetails in two popular deer hunting areas, units 8 and 16, will see less hunting pressure this fall, according to Lloyd Fox, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism big game program coordinator.

"The concerns we had were the trends in numbers over about the last four years, (including) our spotlight surveys, deer/vehicle collisions and the harvest surveys," Fox said."We're looking at multiple things we can do. We're making some adjustments, not any major kind of turn around."

At past Wildlife and Parks commission meetings Fox expressed concern over the current deer populations in Units 8 and 16. Roughly the Red Hills area from Harper to Ashland, the latter unit was once considered one of the best deer areas in the nation. Heavy poaching, high hunting pressure and several years of drought seem to have taken their toll.

Fox said the number of permits that allow the non-resident hunter to shoot a whitetail buck will be decreased by about five percent in both units. That follows steady increases for about 20 years.

Residents and non-residents will see tighter restrictions on how many antlerless whitetails they can kill, and how many days they'll be allowed field in the coming seasons in those units.

Fox said both units will reduce the number of whitetail antlerless-only permits to one per hunter, down from up to five some years. Hunters in those areas will be allowed only three days during the annual January season designed to increase the kill on antlerless whitetails. Some years that season has lasted 12 or more days in those and other units.

"Those (fewer days) will have more of an impact on our deer populations than the number of non-resident permits and the authorization of fewer antlerless permits," Fox said. "A shorter season affects every hunter."

Kansas' eastern mule deer zone, which includes management units 3,4,5,7 and 16 will see sizable permit reductions for hunting the speices with rifles. Fox said special permits that allow the taking of mule deer does in the region will not be available this year. Also, resident firearms permits that allow a mule deer buck to be taken will be reduced from 750 to 600 permits. Non-resident opportunities for mule deer have been sharply reduced, too.

There will be a lesser reduction of resident permits for mule deer bucks and does in Kansas' western mule deer zone,which encompasses units 1,2,17,18. Fox said resident archery and muzzleloader permits that allow mule deer to be killed will remain unlimited

"We're attempting to increase our mule deer population," Fox said. "I imagine we'll try a couple of years like this then we'll see what happens."

Fox predicted no other changes per resident and non-resident deer permits or seasons in Kansas compared to last year.

The topics will be discussed at the March 26 commission meeting in Topeka. While the commission and public can comment on the changes, Robin Jennison, Wildlife and Parks secretary, has final approval of deer permit numbers and seasons.