All About Kansas Pheasant Hunting | History

Upland Traditions for Generations

The state of Kansas holds a long tradition of hunting the ring-necked pheasant. According to the Department of Wildlife,  Parks and Tourism, Kansas ranks in the top 3 or 4 states as a top destination for pheasant hunting every year. In its current format, pheasant season opens the first Saturday in November and runs through the last day of January.  During pheasant season the daily bag limit is four male pheasants known as roosters or cocks.  Every year, hunters come from all over the U.S. to hunt opening weekend.  In 2014, the long season and millions of acres of crop and CRP fields, Kansas will offer unique opportunities to hunt late in the season.

The tradition of upland bird hunting takes many forms in the United States. Hunters in different regions typically pursue similar birds.  Some examples include pheasant, quail, woodcock, grouse,  prairie chicken, and chukar. In most regions comprised of wilderness or crop fields, hunters usually pursue only one or two species native to a specific area. For example, in many parts of Kansas, licensed hunters can sometimes shoot ring-necked pheasants and quail in the same CRP field. In “controlled shooting areas,”  hunters have the opportunity to shoot multiple species.  Most upland bird seasons range from early autumn to mid-winter,  depending on the state and species.

Pheasant Species

There are approximately 50 types or species of pheasants in the world according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Most pheasants originated in China or Malaysia and were originally transplanted to Europe several centuries ago. While different pheasants are found in zoos, the ring-necked pheasants are primarily viewed as game birds, whether stocked artificially in fields or hunted as wild birds. Male pheasants can be up to 35 inches in length. Ring-necked cocks are colorful and have long tail feathers while ring-necked females are ordinary-colored, usually brown or tan. Pheasants have an amazing ability to survive extreme climate changes as found in the Midwest, and they prefer grassy areas and grain fields. According to Kansas wildlife biologists, hunting pheasants has no negative effects on the pheasant population.

Pheasant Habitats

The ring-necked Pheasant is an upland game bird and was originally imported to the U.S. from China in the 1800s. Today, Ring-necks thrive in the Midwestern U.S. because many areas in this region provide the ideal habitat. Ring-necked males, are known as “cocks” or “roosters” and are very colorful birds. These birds mate in the spring with up to a dozen hens. The average life span of a ring-necked pheasant is about 10 to 20 months, according to National Geographic.

Pheasant Habitat and CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) habitat fields greatly benefit the ring-necked pheasant. According to a 2006 study conducted for the Department of Agriculture, pheasants can have a 22% increase in populations when located within a 1000 meters of  788 acres or more of CRP habitat. Starting in 1985, the federal government offers farmers a voluntary opportunity in 10 to 15  year contracts to preserve lands likely to experience erosion by  planting CRP native grasses and plants and receiving program  payments. Pheasants love these fields as the biodiversity of  multiple grasses and forbs provide roosting areas and supply food for their young by way of seeds and insects.

In Kansas, ring-necks are often found and are hunted in grassy CRP fields, cut grain or “stubble” fields (especially milo, grain sorghum, wheat or corn). Pheasants can usually be found in weedy earth silos, shelter belts, corner fields on irrigation circles, weedy or brushy creek bottoms, weedy or brushy draws, ditches, canyons and wetland areas. Although pheasants can survive without water for several days, successful pheasant hunts usually take place within a mile of the habitat features listed below.

Pheasant Hunt Types

The venerable Datus C. Proper proclaims in his classic book, Pheasants of the Mind, that there are three types of pheasant hunts . Two types of hunts involve following either a flushing or a pointing dog and allowing the dog to find the birds in the cover  while the hunters tag along for the shooting. The third type he  calls “fishing.” That is hunting without a dog; the comparison to fishing, of course, suggests that a dog-less hunter does not know exactly where the birds are and possibly could have a challenging experience finding them or could walk by them without flushing  them. Hunters can pursue pheasants without a dog and can be quite successful that way; however, a pheasant hunt with a fine bird  dog can be extremely enjoyable.

Sound of the Pheasant

When pheasants are flushed by dogs or hunters, they take  flight suddenly. The first thing an upland hunter will hear is  the rapid beating of wings, whether it is a rooster (cock) or  hen. Roosters usually make a cackling sound as they take flight  as well: it may sound similar to a decrescendo of “kawk-kawk- kawk-kawk-kawk.” This sound occurs normally when a rooster takes  sudden, flushed flight; however, roosters also make this sound  when flying to feeding fields in the morning or back to the  roosting fields near sundown. Just before daybreak, a rooster  will make a “kaw-KAWK!” morning call to announce the sunrise and  stake territory. A hen, howeveer, when flushed will make a higher  pitched sound–if any–and it resembles a soft, repeated,  “squeet-squeet-squeet” as it flies away.

Pheasant Hunting Dogs

Pheasant hunters typically identify 1 of 25 breeds of bird dogs as being “the best” breed.  In most cases, any “upland hunting dog” is considered a good dog for pheasants.  Much has been written about the ideal bird dog for pheasant  hunting, and hunters today continually vouch for their favorite  type and breed. Bird dogs or “gun dogs” typically fall into these three categories: flushers, pointers and retrievers.  True pheasant hunting dogs either “point” (become  stiff at the scent/presence of a pheasant) or “flush” (cause a  pheasant to fly up relatively close to the hunter). So, pointers and flushing breeds are typically the best bird dogs for pheasant hunting.

Originally,  flushers, such as those with “Spaniel” in the name, were the  primary bird dogs used for pheasant hunting. But now, pointers  and retrievers are commonly found in hunters’ kennel boxes.  Many dogs in the “retriever” lines are known for retrieving waterfowl but can make excellent pheasant dogs as well. If properly  trained, retrievers have the potential to flush pheasants. The  most popular pheasant dogs in Kansas are likely included in this  list: Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Brittany, German Shorthaired Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, English Pointer,  English Setter and English Springer Spaniel.

When you go out with dogs, pay close attention to all of the bird dogs in the hunting party.  When dogs start to act more excited and circle back into a spot  in the field, it is likely they are encountering pheasant scent and are considered “birdy.” Once on point, follow the directions from the guide to flush the pheasants. If no specific  instructions from the guide, avoid approaching the dog on point  from behind; instead, arc around to the side at a right angle to  the point and walk into the spot to obtain the flush. Finally, do not shoot at birds below the horizon of the land for fear of  accidentally shooting at the bird dogs.

Pheasant Stew Recipe


  • 3 whole pheasant breasts
  • 6 cups water
  • 6 tsp chicken bouillon granules (or 6 cubes)
  • 1 tsp salt 1 tsp pepper 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 4 big white potatoes, peeled & diced
  • 6 carrots, peeled & diced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 white onion, peeled & diced
  • 1/4 cup parsley flakes
  • 8 oz. frozen peas

Remove all skin, fat and feathers from pheasant breasts.  Slow  cook pheasant breasts on low in crock pot 4-6 hours or overnight  with 2 cups water and 2 tsp chicken bouillon. Remove meat from  breast bones, chopping meat into small pieces; discard bones.  Pour stock from crock pot into large pot on stove. Bring water, chicken bouillon, salt, pepper and celery salt to  boil; reduce to slow boil. Add pheasant, diced potatoes, carrots, celery, onion and parsley flakes. Cover and slow boil everything  for 45-60 min. or until carrots and potatoes are cooked tender.  Add frozen peas and cook until they are all soft–about 10 min.  or so. You could also add other frozen vegetables of your choice. Be sure to cook the raw vegetables first; always add frozen  veggies last. Serves 8 to 10.

Learn More - Join Your Local Pheasants Forever Chapter

Pheasants Forever is a nonprofit habitat organization dedicated to promoting conservation, pheasant hunting heritage, wildlife habitat, hunting access and all things related to pheasant hunting. Beginning in 1982, Pheasants Forever tries to establish chapters throughout the country, allowing pheasant hunters and conservationists to connect with others locally. Local members decide how to spend 100 percent of the locally raised money on habitat or pheasant hunting projects. The organization holds fundraising banquets typically comprised of a dinner and an auction to raise money for education, awareness and habitat production. PF periodical publications include Pheasants Forever JournalForever Outdoors and “On the Wing” newsletter. PF started a sister organization called Quail Forever in 2005 to promote the same type of things for quail hunting.

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    886 90th Ave
    Kinsley, KS 67547