Monthly Archives: November 2009

Disease killing raccoons

Nobody who’s spent much time outdoors thinks Mother Nature is always nice.

The past two weeks I’ve seen where she’s being pretty rough on a lot of raccoons.

Every time I’ve spent time scouting, hunting or taking photos around a section of land southeast of the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge I find freshly dead raccoons and ‘coons in the act of dying.

Low fur prices and quality habitat has the Kansas raccoon population very high. Canine distemper is working through the population, killing many.

Low fur prices and quality habitat has the Kansas raccoon population very high. Canine distemper is working through the population, killing many.

It’s not pretty but it’s not uncommon, according to Matt Peek, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks furbearer biologist.

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Stuck happens

I drove to a place so special this morning I about stayed there all day.

Ok, so maybe I did get Ol’ Red a little stuck.

How was I supposed to know I’d sink to my axles a few feet from dry dirt, over where marsh plants sprouted from land with scattered pockets of water?

And I really didn’t need my buddy Ed Markel to put a tow-strap on the back of Ol’ Red and use his four-wheel drive, which he’d parked nearby on dry ground, to pull me out.

I could have worked a bit and driven my huntin’ truck right on out of there -

-after a drought of at least three months.

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Thanksgiving thanks

The legendary meal is long gone and the dishes are done.

Thanks for the really important things in life – like family, friends, health and prosperity – were made at the table.

Though not of such magnitude I have plenty of other things for which to give thanks.

Blessed is the hunter in the company of good dogs and living in a place where both can reach their potential.

Blessed is the hunter in the company of good dogs and living in a place where both can reach their potential.

I’m thankful most of my life has been spent with good dogs with which I’ve enjoyed thousands of days of training and hunting.

And it’s good to be in a place where I’m only minutes away from the upland and waterfowl hunts it takes to make an exceptional dog. Few places in the nation can someone shoot a limit of ducks in the morning and four rooster pheasants that afternoon.

It doesn’t always happen here, but I’m thankful it’s always a possibility.

That I live in a state where non-residents pay $5,000 or more to hunt deer is also appreciated…almost as much as the few close friends who freely give me access to their deer-rich lands.

And there is probably no other state where one can find mule deer and whitetails to match the quality of Kansas.

The older I get the more I appreciate Kansas’ truly wild places for what they are as much as the game they produce.

I like that I can drive less than an hour and be in the Flint Hills or, better yet, the Smoky Hills. They’re two of the world’s largest tracts of tall prairie.

While it took me about 40 years to really appreciate them I’m thankful to have two world-class wetlands within two hours of home. They’ve become favored photography grounds.

Rare are places where I can go and shoot more than 1,300 frames in a day as I did at Cheyenne Bottoms last spring. I can get more great shots of waterfowl, deer and other wildlife in three hours at Quivira this time of year than some photographers can get in three weeks in other states.

Life is most certainly good for me in Kansas.

Oklahoma’s 1st bear season successful

State wildlife officials are labeling Oklahoma’s first-ever bear hunting season a success.

A total of 19 bears were shot amid four southeast Oklahoma counties during a season that ran Oct. 1-Nov. 1.

Micah Holmes, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation public information supervisor, said the state had placed a maximum quota of 20 bears that could be killed from within a population estimated at about 450 animals.

He said the season makes Oklahoma the 29th state to allow black bear hunting. Kansas occasionally has a bear wander in from a neighboring state but has no true bear population.

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Goose hunting by ear

RENO COUNTY – This morning we had thousands of geese within 50 yards.

Unfortunately we could only see 30 yards most of the time.

It’s seldom good when foggy conditions and calm winds mix with waterfowl hunting.

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Things I learned on my recent vacation

Some of the most important lessons of my life have come while I was sitting in a tree.

Well, some of my most enjoyable lessons.

Six straight days of bow and duck hunting showed the following -

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Zebra mussels found in Milford Lake

This morning wildlife officials announced zebra mussels have been found in Milford Lake.

Jason Goeckler, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks aquatic nuisance species coordinator, confirmed the invasive species was found in the 16,200 acre lake near Junction City.

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Perfectly miserable weather

Reno County – Monday’s weather was all most people fear a November day can be.

A biting north wind stung exposed skin with a mixture of rain, sleet and snow. Quickly soaked, anybody who spent much time outside felt a cold that went to the bone.

But for some of us it was all we could hope a November day could be.

Personally, I thought it a perfect way to start a week of vacation.

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Pheasant thoughts

Word from around the state is that most hunters found what wildlife experts had forecast for pheasant numbers. Some had their hunts hampered by standing crops they couldn’t access.

Hundreds of thousands of such moments were enjoyed across Kansas on Saturday's opening day of pheasant season. Most hunters were pleased with their success.

Hundreds of thousands of such moments were enjoyed across Kansas on Saturday's opening day of pheasant season. Most hunters were pleased with their success.

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A hunter’s buck, a family’s accomplishment

About 7:30 this morning I got a text message that said, “Buck down,” from Jerrod.

An hour later our son sent a text that described the buck as a long-tined, massive, main-frame eight-pointer with several stickers, and extra tines. About an hour later a message said the buck tallied about 148 inches of antler.

That’s a heck of a trophy, his best whitetail ever and more antler than most avid deer hunters ever put their hands on.

But the buck’s location was far more important that the dimensions.

He got it on our family farm north of Lawrence.

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