Known as the geographic center of the contiguous 48 states, Kansas’ open windswept landscape is right in the heart of the Great Plains. When Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act in 1862, settlers flocked to the state for the160 acres of free land given to those willing to claim it. Americans looking to stake their claim on a new life, thriving agriculture and giant whitetails have been flocking to Kansas ever since.
Dubbed America's "breadbasket," Kansas produces more wheat than any other state. Incredible cattle and corn production round out the state's other top, income-producing commodities. Yet, there's one more crop Kansas is known for: sunflowers. The Sunflower State's farms, fields, wild prairies and roadsides are painted yellow and crimson by sunflowers.
In Southwest Kansas, the Cimarron National Grassland preserves 100,000 acres of beautiful prairie. This is not a docile place. Remote and windy, the grassland tests your endurance and skills. Thunderstorms can be seen far away on the horizon, but still create surprise. The landscape is much the way it was when settlers heading west traversed the area. You can still see the swales left by Conestoga wagons from a time long past. Kansas also offers over 5 million acres of forest. Maybe a little unexpected for a prairie state, forestland is mostly found in the eastern third of the state. These timbered landscapes provide exceptional habitat for thriving wildlife.
Grasslands, winding river and creek bottoms, sloughs and thickets teach us what Kansas is all about. Broad, free country features plenty of open space to build momentum and hit adventure hard. Waking up on a cool, crisp morning before sunrise with high hopes of spotting a buck of a lifetime cruising bedding areas and food sources is a consistent occurrence each fall.
Hunters in the western portion of the state often find themselves choosing between a big whitetail or big mule deer. This diversity adds to the attraction Kansas offers. Patiently ducking behind tall-grass cover and glassing along edges of streams and hills can pay off big out here. Miles hiked with strategic movements and calculated decision-making can become hunting stories shared around the dinner table or at hunt camp for years to come.
Fort Riley just east of Topeka on I-70 accommodates one of Kansas' only wild elk herds, while pronghorn roam the state's western counties. Both elk and pronghorn hunts in Kansas are draw-hunts. Grassy fields are also prime pheasant, dove, predator and other game hunting territory.