Norton Wildlife Area
Keith Sebelius Reservoir/ Norton Wildlife Area News
Norton Wildlife Area –Fall Hunting Forecast
Waterfowl Waterfowl hunting could be a little tougher this year as compared to the last few years. The reservoir level had a steady drop this past summer due to extremely low rainfall and high irrigation releases. The water level is currently 10.0 feet below pool and dropping due to evaporation. The drop in water level has left the shoreline void of any vegetation which is necessary to hold duck numbers. Concealment will also be an issue for waterfowl hunters. Drift wood and flooded timber will be the best bet to find a place to hide.
Generally, the first large flights of ducks can be expected in late October. Weather fronts in November usually bring more Canada geese and mallards to the area. The early season goose hunter should have some decent opportunities at resident honkers.
A seasonal waterfowl refuge is in effect from November 1 through January 31. During these dates the area designated as refuge is closed to all activities (special hunts only). Maps showing refuge boundaries are available at the Area Office and are posted at all of the information kiosks around the lake. Weekly waterfowl updates can be viewed on the agency’s website or call the Norton Area Office at 785-877-2953.
Pheasant & Quail Pheasant and quail numbers tend to be down this year region wide. The Norton area experienced extremely low rainfall coupled with long lasting extreme heat that left the brood numbers low. Vegetation around the wildlife area is reduced compared to years past due to the drought. Pheasants and quail can still be harvested on the area given enough exercise!
Turkey Turkey numbers have been on a steady increase on the wildlife area. This year, turkeys had decent nesting success. Fall Turkey season opens October 1st. Getting out early in the month of October should provide your best chances of harvest success. Later in the season turkeys are pushed off the area by increased disturbance and hunting pressure. Limited numbers of turkeys have wintered on the area since 2006. However most large winter flocks are located on private land.
Deer Deer numbers on the wildlife area have been increasing since 2001, mostly due to the availability of habitat with declining reservoir levels. The Wildlife Area is primarily home for white-tailed deer, some mule deer stay on the area during the summer but move off the property in the early fall. Expect light to moderate hunting pressure during the muzzle loader and archery seasons and high hunting pressure during the regular firearms season. All archery hunters are required to wear blaze orange if archery hunting during a firearms season, including muzzleloader season.
Rabbit Rabbit populations are high and should provide good opportunity for those who choose to hunt them. A cotton tail hunt after a fresh snow is a great way to introduce kids to hunting.
Coyotes & Furbearers Generally, hunting and trapping pressure is directly linked to local fur prices. Expect light to moderate trapping pressure this season. Calling for bobcats or coyotes can be good early in the year, before they become wary of the call, but pelts are usually not prime until later in the season. Raccoon and bobcat rate as the most targeted furbearer species on the wildlife area. Trapping and snaring are allowed on the wildlife area. Remember that you are sharing this area with other sportsmen, and use good judgment when selecting a site for a set.