By Brent Frazee [Admin note: This post--targeting an audience of hunters--is telling in so many ways it just had to be included on this site.\
Poor hunting, controversial regulation changes, disappointing finishes in national bass tournaments, a large poaching case … that pretty much sums up a year in the outdoors in Missouri and Kansas.
No, 2013 wasn’t the best of years. Here are some of the lowlights, with a few highlights sprinkled in.
1. Where did all the deer go?
The 2013 Missouri firearms deer season came as a shock to many residents, who are accustomed to some of the best hunting in the nation.
In some parts of the state, the deer seemingly disappeared. Heavy losses to hemorrhagic disease in 2012 played a major role in the dramatic reduction in deer numbers. An abundance of acorns, which kept the deer in the deep woods, weather, and the cumulative effects of liberal hunting regulations in northern Missouri also played a part.
The result? Missouri hunters took only 157,224 deer in the 11-day firearms season in November, a whopping 47,444 fewer than were shot in 2012. It was the lowest November firearms total since 1993.
2. Cheyenne Bottoms’ rapid turnaround
During the summer, the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in central Kansas looked like a giant dust bowl.
The entire wetlands complex was dry, save for a few puddles. And the outlook for the duck season was dismal.
But a period of heavy rain in later summer changed the situation dramatically and provided a rare ray of hope for hunters and bird watchers. Water filled all of the pools, moist-soil food was flooded and the ducks poured in.
During the teal season and the early parts of the regular duck season, hunters enjoyed some of the best shooting at the wetlands complex they have in years. An early freeze cut that short, but it was still a fall to remember at Cheyenne Bottoms.
3. Come back, pheasants, come back
Kansas pheasant hunters were prepared for the worst. And that’s what they got.
Surveys by the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism indicated that pheasant populations were down sharply after several consecutive years of drought. And hunters bore witness.
Even on opening day, large parties of hunters shot only a few birds in areas where they were accustomed to taking quick limits. The season is still open; it will run through Jan. 31. But odds are that this will go down as one of the worst pheasant season in modern history. More....