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Marsh Musings
hoi kl marshmusings

BY Dr. Dan Witt

Pheasant season just ended in Kansas. It is by far the worst season that I can recall since moving here in 1990. Sandra’s recipe for pheasant with green chili sauce in conjunction with good numbers of birds has been a time-tested attraction for friends in other states to come visit, hunt and dine for many years. They didn’t come this year.  The drought has reduced our bird numbers to very low levels. I think it hurts our local economy, and we miss our friends.  
According to the KDWPT web site, 3,000 pheasants were introduced in 84 counties in Kansas in 1906.  Kansas supposedly is ranked in the top 3 or 4 states in terms of numbers.  Essentially, the season extends from the first or second week-end in Nov. to the end of January and the limit is 4 roosters per day.  I don’t know anyone that harvested very many at all this year.
KDWPT says “The ring-necked pheasant is a polygamous species. This means that one rooster will mate with many hens, just as a buck deer can mate with many does. Kansas’ cocks-only harvest regulations, and those of other pheasant states, are designed with this in mind. It has been scientifically estimated that 80 to 90% of the ring-neck roosters present in fall can be safely harvested through hunting without hindering reproduction the following spring.
Ratios of pheasant cocks to hens in spring indicate that Kansas’ pheasant harvest is very conservative, never remotely approaching this maximum allowable harvest. Under the cocks-only format, a reduction in season length or bag limit will do nothing to increase pheasant populations, although such requests are sometimes received from well-intentioned members of the public.”
That seems a bit simplistic to me.  If the season were shortened or the bag limit reduced, many roosters would survive.  I have to believe they would live to the next year which would mean more birds would be present.  I’m not very scientific, but a bird not killed this year seems to be one more bird next year.  I agree that fertilization rates might not be affected, but bird numbers seem to be reduced by this policy in my humble opinion. I leave it to the biologists I suppose, but I am not the only hunter in Kansas who is concerned about our pheasants.
There is really not much in the way of news or outdoor activates except some successful ice fishermen.  It makes me nervous to walk on something that cracks and makes noise.  The hot spot for birding right now is Cheney Reservoir. There is a large number of eagles staged up there, and they are spectacular!  
I attended the Safari Club meeting in Dallas-- there were over 4,000 exhibitors and it was over-whelming.  The hunting and fishing trips are just amazing. I was also very fortunate to be invited to Dick and Mary Cabelas Christmas party in Sydney, Neb. last Saturday evening. Their home is so very pretty and they are very gracious hosts. I have shopped with them for many years. They are certainly a vital part of the fabric of America and it was a honor to meet them.
Surely the weather will warm up quickly now.  I thought it was really cold until my buddy in Saskatchewan reported minus 32 at his house.  I have started taking Yoga classes to continue my new years resolution to become more healthy. Barton County is safer now-- I can actually turn my head around far enough to see behind me when I back out of a parking space......
Charlie Daniels can play “Fire on the Mountain” on my hamstrings in a few of those poses and not miss a beat.  I recommend it for everyone.
Our Marsh is getting ready to come alive!  Snow geese are already headed north-- there were lots of them in the Nebraska farms along I-80 this past week-end.  Polish your binoculars and get out the bird books-- it won’t be long!
Doc Witt is an avid outdoorsman and retired physician.