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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Kansas offers diverse hunting opportunities

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  • The rolling hills and broad plains of Kansas are a popular hunting ground for a wide variety of species.
    Pheasant, quail, deer, turkey, dove and geese are all familiar game animals that hunters, both local and out of state, have hunted for decades.
    But Kansas has more variety to offer hunters, some that might be a surprise.
    Some hunters have a taste for hunting bullfrog. Bullfrogs can produce hundreds of young so they are hunted for population control, depending on the amount of water available. Frog legs are considered a delicacy and worth a lot of money in the eastern part of the U.S., said Joe Kramer, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
    It's a cliché but frog legs do taste like chicken and are good eating. With a daily bag limit of eight, the hunting season runs from July 1 to Oct. 31. Most are hand caught using a flashlight to expose the eyes although some like to use a gig (tiny pitchfork looking tool) to catch them.
    If bullfrog doesn't get the taste buds going, hunters might try squirrel of either the gray or fox variety. The season runs from June 1 to Feb. 28 with a daily bag limit of five and a possession limit of 20. They, like bullfrog, taste like chicken.
    Squirrels are hunted for population control. With healthy populations, they can cause damage to houses and are a real problem to pecan and walnut growers, Kramer said.
    Elmer Fudd would feel right at home in Kansas during rabbit season. Both cottontails and jackrabbits can be hunted state wide and year round. They are good eating and daily bag limit is 10 with a possession limit of 30.
    Cottontails are pretty much statewide but jackrabbits are more common in the western third of the state. The produce several litters of five to seven a year, so overpopulation could become a problem.
    Rabbit season is open year round and state wide.
    Hunters looking for other bird species to hunt might try rail, woodcock, snipe (yes, they do exist), greater and lesser prairie chicken and or even sand hill cranes.
    Snipe and rail are migratory birds that are basically a bonus bird for duck hunters. They are found in marshland areas like Quivera National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms. They populate quickly and hunting is mostly done for population control.
    Woodcock are also wetland birds but are timber wetland species that are found in the eastern part of the state. They are a real challenge to hunters because they are skilled at flying through woods.
    Although they are associated with wooded areas, the land between the Pratt County Veterans Memorial Lake and KDWPT headquarters is a good place to flush them, Kramer said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Prairie chicken, both lesser and greater, are also on the hunting list. They have very limited seasons with a daily bag limit of one for the lesser and two for the greater.
    The possession limit actually helps KDWPT keep track of populations of lesser that are close to becoming a threatened species. If that happens, they can no longer be hunted.
    Sand hill cranes also have their own hunting season. They might look like they are all neck and leg but they have excellent breast and thigh meet that tastes like steak.
    When sand hill cranes migrate the feed grain and that produces some excellent quality meat. They are hard to hunt because they have excellent eyesight and are wary of people. Only about 1,000 hunt the cranes that are found in the central and western part of the state.
    A challenge to hunters is they migrate at the same time fly with whooping cranes that area endangered and protected. Hunters have to pass an electronic sand hill crane identity test before they are issued a license.
    Hunters with bigger game in mind might opt for elk or antelope instead of deer.
    Elk hunting is very limited, usually around Fort Riley. Elk are good eating but they can cause a lot of crop damage so KDWPT has a very liberal hunting policy. No application is needed, even though the state doesn't have a lot of elk. Hunting is usually up to the landowners who don't want the elk because of the crop damage.
    Antelope are found in the western third of the state, especially in the northwest part of the state and have a limited season.
    Some animals don't fit in the traditional hunting mold. Beaver and otter are trapped and harvested for their fur. Beaver are in good supply across the state but otter are found more in the east and their populations are growing allowing for a trapping season in just the last five years.
    Beaver has no limits but otter is limited to just two.
    One last hunting season to mention is crow. They are abundant and are hunted as a means of population control. They also cause crop damage and can cause disease in feed yards. They also spread West Nile Virus. They are not good eating unless it's absolutely necessary.
    "I suppose if I was starving, I would eat a crow," Kramer said.

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