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Randy S

Lesser Prairie Chickens

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Randy S

I was just surfing the web to see if I'll have an opportunity in the near future to shoot a lesser chicken. Seems probable that our lesser prairie chicken hunting will never return. It appears they're about to join the ranks of the Atwater's chicken. I've certainly shot my share of greaters and I don't know that the difference between the two chickens is more than a few ounces and feathers, but it's still sad.

 

https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2017/1071/ofr20171071.pdf

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Jack L

Given the changes in habitat and climate this possibility does not surprise me.  Although it was somewhat hopeful for them to admit something else is at play as the bird should  already be extinct under their projections .

 

Maybe the LEPC won't be  found in numbers that allow hunting, but perhaps it can continue to fight off extinction. I suspect the LEPC will need some good karma in light of the bird habitat destruction I see in the upper Midwest .

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Kansas Big Dog

In the last three years I have seen significantly more prairie chickens in the short grass areas of KS than pheasants. Many, many more. Seem to be doing well there. Pheasants, not so much. Pheasants will probably become extinct before the Prairie chickens. 

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dogrunner

62BA9A25-E4DB-47A7-9215-7D631D16F573.jpeg

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oak stob

Any simple and sure way to field differentiate between the two birds in geographical areas where both may be found?

 

I saw as more chickens than pheasants in many KS fields...I assume they were Greaters...just not sure based upon location so, I never shot.

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Kansas Bound
1 hour ago, dogrunner said:

62BA9A25-E4DB-47A7-9215-7D631D16F573.jpeg

Another one of those top heavy organizations that does nothing to help upland hunters. 

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dogrunner
6 minutes ago, Kansas Bound said:

Another one of those top heavy organizations that does nothing to help upland hunters. 

Well of course. They just take people’s money. ;)

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NECarson
21 hours ago, Kansas Big Dog said:

In the last three years I have seen significantly more prairie chickens in the short grass areas of KS than pheasants. Many, many more. Seem to be doing well there. Pheasants, not so much. Pheasants will probably become extinct before the Prairie chickens. 

Yeah. No. Not even close. 

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Randy S
21 hours ago, Kansas Big Dog said:

In the last three years I have seen significantly more prairie chickens in the short grass areas of KS than pheasants. Many, many more. Seem to be doing well there. Pheasants, not so much. Pheasants will probably become extinct before the Prairie chickens. 

 

KBD, Were your observations in the closed area of the southwest? I heard anecdotal reports from ranchers that there was a minor hatch and hail killed many birds. I believe someone from Kansas reported that he hunted several days of the early chicken season in Kansas and didn't see a bird. I thought that report was from western Kansas. I know one hunter doesn't make a census, but if a guy believes the influence a single report has on hot spotters, it would seem that after that report know one would have hunted chickens in Kansas last season. 

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Kansas Big Dog

No, I did not see any in the SW. 

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Kansas Big Dog
2 hours ago, Randy S said:

 

KBD, Were your observations in the closed area of the southwest? I heard anecdotal reports from ranchers that there was a minor hatch and hail killed many birds. I believe someone from Kansas reported that he hunted several days of the early chicken season in Kansas and didn't see a bird. I thought that report was from western Kansas. I know one hunter doesn't make a census, but if a guy believes the influence a single report has on hot spotters, it would seem that after that report know one would have hunted chickens in Kansas last season. 

 

The birds I have been seeing the last few years are in an area that is not open for hunting south of US 24.

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Bill Calton

I have hunted in the area identified in NM as the shinnery oak area for my 65 years of hunting.  The last great year for prairie chickens was about 1989.  That year a hunting partner and I ate a lunch in a light fog at the edge of a recent CRP enrollment (had milo as a cover for the grass) with a milo field across the county road.  We watched chickens come in to the two fields by the 100's, well over a 1000 birds while we ate.  Everyone knows that prairie chickens pre-date milo but they surely did love it.  The huge enrollments in CRP altered the country forever.

 

"The Farm Bill of 1985 was the first act that officially established the CRP as we know it today. Many changes were made in this Farm Bill as compared to the regulations of the program set forth by the Agricultural Act of 1954. One of these changes was changing the contract lengths from the previous three-year commitment to anywhere from 10 to 15 years. The rationale was that this would allow the new vegetative cover and other management practices more time to become established and produce the desired benefits. Also during the time of this Farm Bill, the amount of land allowed to be enrolled in the CRP, which had to be specified as "highly erodible," rose from 5 million acres (20,000 km2) in 1986 to 40 million acres (160,000 km2) in 1990. Additionally, this Farm Bill allowed the Secretary of Agriculture to provide up to 50% of the cost to landowners for installing conservation measures. This Bill also prohibited any farming or grazing on land that became enrolled into CRP, effectively removing any CRP land from agricultural production".

 

My family recently added a parcel that was too small for a person to make a living but has a 320 acre field that was once in cultivation in milo which provided winter forage for cattle.  Dry land fields like this were all over Eastern NM in addition to those that were part of a strictly crop operation.  The chicken population crashed about 1990, as did blue quail, but the quail have come back. 

 

My prairie chicken story for the year.  In Dec while hunting on a ranch I hunt a lot I flushed a covey of blue quail and marked their landing pretty good near a mesquite.  When we got close my dog came to a good point and I walked up expecting quail.  A single prairie chicken got up - it was fun to see - and I have never seen one on the ranch.  We did find the quail

 

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Kansas Big Dog
On 2/14/2018 at 12:35 PM, Kansas Bound said:

Another one of those top heavy organizations that does nothing to help upland hunters. 

 

You can not hunt lesser PCs, so how does helping LPCs help hunters that hunt pheasants?

 

No doubt, I think that PF has helped the prairie grouse as one of many stakeholders. But, where I live I have not seen any habitat benefit. Most all CRP has been converted to crop land. So, maybe there should be Prairie Grouse Forever. And, they are minor players there.

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Kansas Big Dog
On 2/14/2018 at 5:55 PM, NECarson said:

Yeah. No. Not even close. 

 

From my experience hunting in the major PC areas in KS, they and the native bobwhites have come back very strong from the 2012 drought. Not pheasants. Most areas that once were good pheasant hunting areas are slowly fading away.  Pheasants are not native and are actually a domesticated bird from Asia. Unless they are continually stocked, I do not think that huntable populations of pheasants are sustainable. Most of the big destinations states for pheasants release many pheasants every year. If these releases are discontinued, I think pheasants would eventually fade away.

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Kansas Big Dog
15 hours ago, Bill Calton said:

I have hunted in the area identified in NM as the shinnery oak area for my 65 years of hunting.  The last great year for prairie chickens was about 1989.  That year a hunting partner and I ate a lunch in a light fog at the edge of a recent CRP enrollment (had milo as a cover for the grass) with a milo field across the county road.  We watched chickens come in to the two fields by the 100's, well over a 1000 birds while we ate.  Everyone knows that prairie chickens pre-date milo but they surely did love it.  The huge enrollments in CRP altered the country forever.

 

"The Farm Bill of 1985 was the first act that officially established the CRP as we know it today. Many changes were made in this Farm Bill as compared to the regulations of the program set forth by the Agricultural Act of 1954. One of these changes was changing the contract lengths from the previous three-year commitment to anywhere from 10 to 15 years. The rationale was that this would allow the new vegetative cover and other management practices more time to become established and produce the desired benefits. Also during the time of this Farm Bill, the amount of land allowed to be enrolled in the CRP, which had to be specified as "highly erodible," rose from 5 million acres (20,000 km2) in 1986 to 40 million acres (160,000 km2) in 1990. Additionally, this Farm Bill allowed the Secretary of Agriculture to provide up to 50% of the cost to landowners for installing conservation measures. This Bill also prohibited any farming or grazing on land that became enrolled into CRP, effectively removing any CRP land from agricultural production".

 

My family recently added a parcel that was too small for a person to make a living but has a 320 acre field that was once in cultivation in milo which provided winter forage for cattle.  Dry land fields like this were all over Eastern NM in addition to those that were part of a strictly crop operation.  The chicken population crashed about 1990, as did blue quail, but the quail have come back. 

 

My prairie chicken story for the year.  In Dec while hunting on a ranch I hunt a lot I flushed a covey of blue quail and marked their landing pretty good near a mesquite.  When we got close my dog came to a good point and I walked up expecting quail.  A single prairie chicken got up - it was fun to see - and I have never seen one on the ranch.  We did find the quail

 

 

Interestingly, a couple observations that I have seen.

 

Because of ethanol, hybrid corn varieties are now grown in PC areas in western Kansas that previously grew milo only. Because of the drought of 2011-2013, many producers have switched many acres back to milo. During the drought, most CRP was released allowing grazing and haying of 50% of the enrolled ground. Before the drought, I may see a few small groups of PCs during the hunting season. Now, I regularly see large groups, almost daily. One section in NW KS that I hunt I flushed 3 groups of PCs from a milo field. This year, the last week of the season, same section of ground, my dogs pointed a group of over 20 PCs.

 

From my observations, I think that grazing CRP and switching back to milo has greatly facilitated the come back of the PCs in KS.

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