The outlook is good for hunting seasons in Kansas because of good moisture and habitat.
While some some sports enthusiasts have sports fever for football season, other sports lovers are taking care of their fever with the fall hunting season that opened Sept. 1. Dove hunters have their guns out and are heading for their favorite hunting area.
Mike Miller, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism chief of information, said, in general, Kansas has consistently high numbers of doves.
The number of hunters expected this season should be comparable to last year or even better because of an anticipated increase in bird population. Miller said last year's estimate was around 33,000 dove hunters and for 2016, KDWPT sold 90,000 resident hunting licenses and 61,000 nonresident hunting licenses.
"Most of the bird hunters are eager to come back after what they found last year," Miller said.
Dove hunters know they need to get out and get their hunting done quickly. It's not long until cool, wet weather pushes in and doves head south.
As far as the number of doves harvested, Rich Schultheis, KDWPT wildlife research supervisor, said, on the average, about 500,000 doves are harvested in a year. Doves are a state wide species and a lot of hunting happens where a lot of people live. There are dove specific areas where the hunting success rate is high.
While most of the dove population had good nesting areas this year, some areas in western Kansas were damaged where they had more rain than expected.
Dove hunting is popular and draws many hunters. It doesn't take a lot to be a successful dove hunter and for that reason it's the first type of hunting introduced to children, Schultheis said.
Wes Sowards, KDWPT assistant director of Wildlife Division, agreed and said its an easy sport for children to get hold of it. The weather is not too cold and kids can get out in the fields.
"Dove (season) is always a good time," Sowards said.
In the Pratt area, Texas Lake and Pratt Sandhills Wildlife area are good for doves along with Cheyenne Bottoms.
September is the start of hunting season with doves heading the list but other seasons soon follow. Teal and snipe populations are looking good this year. Sowards said the upland bird season should be improved this year because ample precipitation provided good habitat for nesting season. A few areas got precipitation through nesting season and that was a setback but overall it was a good season for habitat.
Looking ahead, the southwest portion of the state has really good habitat and that means good pheasant and quail hunting, Sowards said.
Miller said KDWPT was very optimistic about pheasant and quail this year. The improvement in habitat should produce good numbers.
"Most Bird hunters are looking forward to this fall," Miller said. "We haven't seen good numbers like this in a really long time."
For the big game hunter, deer numbers are pretty steady. There have been some ebb and flow because of disease but the disease problem has decreased lately. Deer numbers have leveled out and hunters should have some good opportunities this year.
"I think this season is setting up to be a pretty good one," Sowards said.
Deer numbers had setbacks in population from the drought years. Miller said the good habitat has produced plenty of food and mature white tail does are producing more twins this year than in the drought years. Ample food also means better fawn survival rate so the deer hunting outlook is good, Miller said.
For those that haven't gotten their license yet, They are available at KDWPT headquarters, Walmart stores across the state, sporting goods stores and county courthouses, Sowards said.