Monthly Archives: November 2009

Moose – it’s what’s for dinner

A trip to Topeka just saved the lives of a few Kansas deer this season.

We now have about 150 pounds of moose meat. It’s from the bull that buddy Chris Tymeson shot on our trip to Maine. He graciously offered me half of the animal.

The first steaks came off the grill last night.

As well as a great trophy for Chris Tymeson the bull moose he shot in Maine will supply hundreds of meals for the Tymeson and Pearce families. Moose tastes somewhat like elk but is even more mild-flavored. It's also ultra-healthy.

As well as a great trophy for Chris Tymeson the bull moose he shot in Maine will supply hundreds of meals for the Tymeson and Pearce families. Moose tastes somewhat like elk but is even more mild-flavored. It's also ultra-healthy.

The flavor was great, very mild and kind of like elk. Moose are notoriously great on the table.

Rather laid-back creatures their meat’s not usually tough. They eat green, succulent plants all spring and summer.

Like elk and venison it’s also very healthy with less fat and cholesterol than chicken.

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Whooper mania

Ed Markel called today with a story about seeing 17 huge white birds on a wheat field that borders his Stafford County farm. He sees a lot of wildlife every year but the tone in his voice said these were special.

Ed is one of many inflicted with whooper mania in the past few days.

The past week has probably offered the best whooping crane viewing in modern times at the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.

whoopingcraneblog001

The past week has offered some of the best whooping crane viewing at Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira in memory. These three cranes photographed by Bob Gress were some of the 28 he saw last Friday. Photo by Bob Gress.

The birds were first seen by a hunter at Cheyenne Bottoms on Nov. 1. When word got out about last Thursday people from all across Kansas and several other states traveled to take a look.

And the looking has been great.

Some birders spending part of a day at both marshes had seen 30 or more whooping cranes.

Quivira’s Pete Meggers said the birds have often been seen in flocks of 15 or more. Most years they’re seen from one to six in a bunch.

As of this morning up to 30 had been seen at Cheyenne Bottoms. Meggers said at least 18 had been on Quivira today.

That makes 71 different whooping cranes he’s documented using Quivira this fall. The previous record was 62 birds. If the birds at Cheyenne Bottoms happen to stop at Quivira on their way southward that could put the number close to 90 or 100.

That’s an amazing number since there are about 270 wild whooping cranes within the population that migrates through Kansas. That number is down from previous years because about 20 whoopers starved in south Texas last winter. Reproduction was also below average last spring and summer.

All forms of hunting have been stopped at Quivira until the cranes move southward. Pools the birds are using at Cheyenne Bottoms, currently 3A and 3B, are also closed to hunting.

Not all of the attention given to the birds has been positive. Karl Grover, Cheyenne Bottoms manager, knew of at least two instances when wildlife watchers approached too close and spooked flocks of whoopers.

As of an hour ago both wetlands still had birds.

On the subject of Cheyenne Bottoms, the world-renouned wetland lost one of its greatest champions today when Jan Garton died in Manhattan. Back in the 1980s Garton was a ring-leader of a public revolt that stopped the state of Kansas from basically letting the bottoms go dry.

The effort led to restoring Cheyenne Bottom’s priority water rights.

Hopefully those who’ve recently enjoyed seeing the whooping cranes at Cheyenne Bottoms  will be appreciative of the actions of Garton and others and also the huge amounts of sportsmen’s dollars that have almost exclusively supported the area for decades.

Young love

It’s not easy being a young animal in the wilds. Their slower body and mind often make them targets for predators. Mature animals are quick to physically force them out of their way to get to the best food.

Their inexperience means they go through the breeding season unwanted, unsuccessful and totally confused.

But they sure are fun to watch.

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Safety first

Word came yesterday of a friend who learned he doesn’t bounce very well from about 18 feet in the air.

That’s how far he fell when the treestand he was setting-up gave-way.

He’s banged and bruised and had a very deep gash put into his leg. Luckily it wasn’t his head. Last  year a Newton bowhunter wasn’t as lucky and his fall killed him.

Falls from treesstands are one of the most common accidents in deer hunting. Far more hunters are injured or killed from a fall than accidentally shot by another hunter…far more.

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Star athlete, coach, hunter

Up in the Hutchinson and Nickerson area John Ontjes is known as one of the region’s best-ever athletes.

At Nickerson High School he earned all-state honors in football, basketball and baseball. After two good basketball seasons at Hutchinson Community  College he headed to OU for more of the same.

John Ontjes was an acclaimed athlete at NIckerson HIgh School and OU and is now the coach of the Hutchinson Community College. He's been an avid hunter most of his life.

John Ontjes was an acclaimed athlete at Nickerson High School and OU. He is s now the coach of the Hutchinson Community College women's basketball team. He's been an avid hunter most of his life.

As point guard he was the Big 8′s top new-comer in 1994. He currently coaches the women’s basketball team at HCC. Under his guidance last year’s 31-6 record was the best in school history.

Ontjes, 36, has been into hunting about as long as he’s been into sports.

He started pheasant and quail hunting with his father, Jim, when he was about 12. Ontjes has since added other pursuits.

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Silhouette simplicity

It was because I had to squint to watch the dog go out on the retrieve that I reached for my camera early this morning.

Silhouettes photos are some of the easiest shots to get. Shooting them of  something moving across water adds action to the shot. This was taken this morning in western Reno County.

Silhouettes photos are some of the simplest shots to get. Shooting them of something moving across water adds action to the shot. This was taken this morning in western Reno County.

When the dog trotted back through the sun’s glare on the water I let the camera automatically focus and set the light meter on the blackened Lab.

Getting good silhouette photography is often that easy.

All it takes is a subject against a much lighter background.

Sometimes that’s the sky or the light coming through a window. It’s also easy to silhouette a subject against a broad surface of smooth water, like a pond or lake.

The main thing is to have the entire subject against the lighter background. If, for instance, you’re photographing a birder against a sunrise with the horizon going through his or her mid-section all you’ll see is the upper half of their body.

Often you have to raise or lower the camera to get a full silhouette. I’ve had to stand on top the cabs of pick-ups or be totally flat on my belly to get some shots in the past.

But thanks to today’s digital cameras you can see your successes and failures while still in the field.

Returning from a youth deer hunt the previous evening I'd seen a herd of bison along this ridge. I was back before daylight and blocked the rising sun with this young cow. It was a very simple photo go get.

Returning from a youth deer hunt the previous evening I'd seen a herd of bison along this ridge. I was back before daylight and blocked the rising sun with this young cow.

The neat thing about silhouettes is that about anything looks good darkened against a sunrise or sunset.

People can practice about anywhere and anytime the sun is rising or setting.

There’s no simpler shot to get, in my opinion.

Buddy and Paul

My friend Paul Christophel got adopted last week.

His benefactor is Buddy, a rat terrier-mix that last week walked into Meridian Fleet Service, Paul’s automotive repair shop south of Newton, and gave him a “So, what are we going to do together for the next 15 or so years,” kind of look.

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