Last year hunters bagged 91,357 whitetails and 2,713 mule deer. Three straight years of drought have taken their toll on all deer, including trophy bucks. In 2012, the state had the lowest number of deer entered into the Kansas Trophy Award Program in over a decade. Also in 2012 game officials received 1,274 EHD reports of dead or sick deer in 46 of the state's 105 counties. Areas along the Nebraska and Missouri borders were most severely impacted.
(See our National Deer Forecast 2013 here.)
But even with the past EHD problems and lower harvests, Kansas remains a whitetail powerhouse in the Midwest.
In 2013, hunters will find a myriad of deer hunting regulation changes.
"All hunters can now use crossbows during archery season, and any centerfire rifle, handgun, and shotgun gauges are now legal firearms equipment," said KDWPT biologist Lloyd Fox. Anyone hunting with a crossbow must obtain a Crossbow Survey ID, which is available on the state website."
Archery hunters will now be able to use additional equipment that attaches to an arrow or bow, including lighted pins; dot or holographic sights; illuminated nocks; rangefinders; video cameras; and radio-frequency location devices.
There's also a new antlerless hunting season open during the pre-rut. From Oct. 12-13, hunters can harvest an antlerless deer using any legal firearm.
While more deer are killed in the eastern part of the state, hunters have higher success rates in the West. Severe Drought in the Southwest and deaths from EHD in the East will mean lower numbers of deer compared to recent levels. Deer Management Units 3, 4, 5, and 7 will provide some of the best hunting opportunities.
In 2012, about 12.7 percent of deer hunters used public lands, harvesting 5.8 percent of all deer. Despite the fact that more than 95 percent of the state is privately-owned, Tuttle Creek's 12,000-acres of walk-in hunting provide hunters plenty of room to find mature whitetails. Tuttle Creek is prone to flooding in the fall, creating isolated islands where big bucks like to hide out. The Marais des Cygnes Wildlife Management Area in the Southeast also offers plenty of bottomland oak and hickory hardwoods where deer feed all fall.