The state of Kansas is one of the nation's top producers of big whitetails. How big? The state record typical scored a whopping 198 2/8 and the top non-typical scored 280 4/8. The state's deer get this big because of a combination of good genetics, good habitat and conservative management. Kansas is so conservative in its deer management, you may recall, that it did not allow any non-resident hunting of them until 1994, when pressure from hunters elsewhere forced the state to open its borders. Since then, the number of permits for non-residents has gradually increased. It's still difficult to be drawn for a permit to hunt deer, but the opportunities are there. What has been really difficult to find in this state, up to now, is a place to hunt on your own. In part, that's due to the fact that most of the good deer hunting is on farms, ranches and other private holdings which non-residents find difficult to access. The other part of the problem is a general lack of huntable public lands. Enter this state's innovative Walk-In-Hunting Area Program (WIHA).
Designed mostly to help bird hunters find a place to hunt on their own, WIHA also opens lands that have some deer on them. Through financial incentives, the program encourages landowners to open their lands to hunting. In effect, the state leases hunting rights from them for an amount that depends on the number of acres and the length of the season involved. At this writing, WIHA areas as small as 80 acres and as large as several thousand have been enrolled.
Begun in 1995 with only 10,000 acres, WIHA has now signed up a half million acres. The state's goal is one million. Some WIHA leases run from September through January, while others begin in November to run through January. The lengths depend upon the game available and the open seasons. Those with doves or muzzleloading seasons open in September, whereas those with conventional firearm seasons for deer will not open until November.
In addition to monetary........(continued)