The 2019-2020 hunting season has finally begun and hunters are arriving in Trego County to find upland birds and deer. The numbers are good this year, promising hunters an exciting season of pheasant, quail, prairie chicken, and deer hunting.
Pheasant hunters will find fair to good opportunities throughout the Smoky Valley region when the season kicks off on November 9th. Spring surveys found a slight decrease in crows following an earlier decrease in the number of broods, but numbers continue to remain above average overall. Regional harvest estimates were highest in the Smoky Hills, which experienced the larger than typical estimates last year, as well. The state is experiencing the highest roadside densities in its western regions.
Quail hunting season has just begun and prospects are good across the region despite a slight decline reported in the 2019 spring survey when compared to last year. The above average numbers follow an exceptionally bountiful year in 2018, where our region boasted the highest regional harvest in the state with good hunter success rates. This 2019 decrease is being buoyed by a 46% increase observed on roadside surveys.
Prairie chicken season is well underway and hunting opportunities are expected to be good. Spring counts were good, even while production rates were low. Along with our high densities, the Smoky Valley offers the best access to prairie chicken in the state. There are large areas of native rangeland intermixed with CRP and cropland.
Waterfowl hunting has begun and we are finding plenty of game along the banks of Cedar Bluff. Mallard, Pintail, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, and Diver ducks number 7,000 to 8,000 and Canadian Geese were surveyed at 800, while Snows and Whitefronts number around 100. This allows for good expectations for hunting expeditions, with morning hunts providing the best opportunity for a successful outing.
Mule and Whitetail deer can be found within our county, with mule deer being the more plentiful. Levi Jaster, Big-game Program Coordinator for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, reports that whitetail populations are stable and may be slightly increasing. Mule deer numbers are stable, and both species have stable buck-to-doe and yearling buck-to-adult ratios. Watch for new areas for hunting deer to open up as the excessive summer rain we’ve received may change the areas that deer tend to populate.
Get Ready for the Hunt with a Meal at WaKeeney’s Many Fine Restaurants
End your day out at one of WaKeeney’s many delicious restaurants, where you’ll find great steaks, baked goods, burgers, and beer.
Start your day at Hometown Bakery. Get there early to enjoy a freshly made cinnamon roll and fresh brewed coffee while you check your email on their free WiFi. (215 N Main St. /ph. 785.743.6494)
The Brazen Bull offers delicious steaks, burgers, sandwiches and salads and beer in a friendly relaxed atmosphere. They’re open Monday thru Saturday for lunch and dinner and feature mouth-watering specials every day. (717 S 2nd St./ph. 785-743-2653)
Enjoy the western ambiance and great food found at the Western Kansas Saloon & Grill. Housed in one of our county’s oldest buildings, the “Saloon” offers steak, pasta, burgers, salads, and sandwiches and a fully stocked bar inside a western-inspired building. (121 N Main St./785-743-2050)
Satisfy your spicy cravings at Tropical Mexican Restaurant. They have all your favorite Mexican dishes, plus beer and margaritas to will satisfy that “South of the Border” craving. (428 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-2219)
Mike’s Place is a fun pub where people can kick back while they enjoy a cold beer and pub grub over a game of pool in Mike’s game room. Their menu is full of regular daily specials that feature local favorites and they always have ice-cold beer on tap and ready for their guests. (111 N 6th St./785-743-2641)
Jake and Chet’s Cafe and the Sundowner Lounge are open all day to fill you up from breakfast to a late-night appetizer over drinks. Rib eyes cooked to order, southern fried catfish, or an all-American burger followed by a slice of pie a la mode is sure to satisfy you after a long day out in the field. (233 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-2211)
The Dairy Queen offers a classic menu with salads, wraps, sandwiches, hot dogs and burgers. Pair your meal with a shake, malt, or a Blizzard for a cool treat. (521 Barclay Avenue/ph. 785-743-2160)
McDonalds is everyone’s “go to” place for a quick, satisfying meal. In WaKeeney, the drive thru window makes it a quick stop, or you can get out and stretch your legs inside in their dining room. (745 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-2911)
Planning a long day out? Stop by WaKeeney’s Subway as you head out of town and pick up a custom-made, foot-long sandwich to enjoy later when those hunger pains kick in. (718 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-5248)
Call in an order at WaKeeney’s Pizza Hut on your way into town and pick up a fresh-from-the-oven pizza to take back to your hotel. They can also deliver right to your lodging, and you’ll want to ask about their weekly buffet and many specials, too! (324 S 1st/ph. 785-743-2383 – Call ahead to find out when their buffet is running!)