There is a bill making its way through the Kansas Legislature that deserves our attention. It can potentially affect most of the deer hunters in Kansas.
This bill would allow landowners to acquire permits to sell to anyone — including non-resident hunters and outfitters. It is suggested that landowners could recoup money spent on predation and damage by deer herds to crop and pasture land. It is also noted that about 20 percent of all car accidents in Kansas are related to deer/car encounters and deaths do occur. Insurance companies hate deer.
I have done a bit of research and interviews to determine a response to this bill which passed the House by a vote of 63-60. It is headed for the Senate and this may be a good time for everyone on both sides of this issue to get acquainted with your representatives. Representative Joe Seiwert from Pretty Prairie supports this bill and has been very kind and helpful in providing relevant information. Tory Marie Arnberger is our local Representative, and Mary Jo Taylor is our Senator. Their contact information is easy to access. Representative Arnberger voted “yea” on House Bill 2167.
I have tried to see what this bill would actually do to me and my hunting buddies, the deer herd, the game wardens and the majority of the hunting public in Kansas.
It will limit access for the average hunter. Wealthy guys and outfitters will grab up the land. It is already happening in Kansas without this bill. Kansas is losing hunters every year — mostly due to the issues with access to the hunting ground. Kansas has the highest non-resident tag percentage (24 percent) in the nation; 97 percent of non-resident applications are approved. We have big deer and everybody wants one. It was suggested that this bill would reduce the deer herd and perhaps decrease deer/vehicle accidents. This won’t happen — non-resident hunters want big bucks and if you are interested in reducing the herd you have to eliminate does. A local hunter can get 4 or 5 doe tags each year. Increasing local hunting or increasing the number of doe tags would reduce the herd. Taking out a big buck gives little bucks access to the does. Sandra and I lost a dear friend a few years ago when he hit a deer down by Quivira and we understand the pain.
It has been suggested that family members would have more opportunity to hunt with resident landowners. There is a special “Hunt-own-land” permit that allows lineal family members and their spouses to hunt the family ground. A wise decision occurred when this permit went into place.
The game wardens hate this idea. When it was in place years ago (and only lasted a short time before being repealed), the game wardens said they didn’t have time to chase poachers — they spent most of their time figuring out who was hunting on which piece of ground.
I think this bill is not good for me and my local hunting friends that take our kids and grandkids to continue the hunting heritage that our forefathers lived and thrived with here in Kansas. Discuss it with your elected representative and senator — we elected them to protect us and they probably know that it didn’t work out too well in the past. Do it for our kids, our deer, and our ability to dine on some of the best deer meat in the world.
Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast.