Monthly Archives: December 2009

Kansas working with other states against poaching

Kansas is one of 32 states working together to corral and punish game law violators.

Kevin Jones, Kansas Department of  Wildlife and Parks law enforcement chief, said the Interstate Wildlife Violator  Compact got started about 20 years ago. Kansas has been on-board about five years.

Currently five other states have passed legislation for their game departments to join the compact. Three other states are in the process of getting such legislation approved.

Basically states within the compact honor punishements imposed on violators by other states. If a person loses hunting priviledges in Kansas it can be the same in the other 31 states.

“It’s proven to be a deterrant,” Jones said. “People know what they do in one state can have serious reprocussions on them being able to hunt about anywhere in the United States, including their home state. People hold their hunting pretty near and dear to their hearts.”

Jones said the states have an on-going data base that all access. If a person has been banned from hunting in another member state the Kansas licensing system will refuse to issue them any kind of licenses or permits.

The compact also gives game wardens and minor violators more flexibility in the field.

In the past game wardens writing tickets to out-of-state hunters usually had to take them to a law enforcement office and get them to post bond to make sure they didn’t skip-out on the violation.

Jones said officers can now simply issue the citation if the person is from a compact state. If the violator ignores the charges law enforcement officials in their home state can get involved.

“It minimizes the impact on people for violations and it keeps our officers in the field more,” Jones said. “It just makes the system work better.”

Kansas whooping cranes linger longer

This morning four whooping cranes stood on a frozen lake in central Kansas while most of their kind bask in the relative warmth of South Texas.

Pete Meggers, of the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, saw the birds on the Little Salt Marsh shortly after daylight. He said it’s unusual for the endangered species to be in Kansas past mid-November.

“They’ve had quite a few chances to migrate on south but they keep staying,” Meggers said. “They’re feeding in corn fields to the south but their water supply is diminishing because of the ice. They’re pretty hardy birds.”

Meggers said biologists think the four at Quivira are the furtherest north of the flyway’s 280 whooping cranes. About 208 are at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas.

Six were seen flying southward over the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildife Area on Saturday.

It’s been a special year for those who enjoy seeing the white birds that stand more than four feet tall.

Meggers documented 112 whooping cranes on or near Quivira this fall. The previous record was 62 birds. Last year was considered a good year when 52 birds were spotted in central Kansas.

Most years the birds are seen in small family groups of two to five. This year Meggers saw as many as 18 together.

That’s more whooping cranes than existed in the world when their population shrank to about 14 about 65 years ago. Loss of habitat and uncontrolled shooting were blamed.

Since, the birds have been under tight federal protection and closely studied. The population took a major set-back last winter when about 20 starved in Texas. Reproduction was also poor this spring on their northern breeding grounds.

Meggers said whooping cranes can be long-lived. This fall he saw a bird with a research band that was 22 years-old. The oldest known whooper on the fly-way is a 31 year-old male.

Most years the first whooping cranes arrive at Quivira in mid-October and are gone by mid-November. About 12 years ago a female with a broken leg stayed until
Dec. 29.

“She took off a few days before a big storm,” Meggers said. “but we know she didn’t make it to Texas.”

Quivira remains closed to all types of hunting until all whooping cranes are gone from the area.

A morning amid a migration

As of 7:05 this morning we hadn’t seen a duck.

We fired our first shots at about 7:10.

We  had our combined limits of 15 by 7:25.

Yes, that’s averaging a duck a minute. It could have been faster.

So it can go when you find yourself amid a migration.

Since the season opened Oct. 1 we’d pretty much been hunting the same ducks. From green-winged teal to mallards they were well-scattered amid the ponds, marshes and field potholes around where we hunt in western Reno County.

We’d done well the first 10 days or so but success had usually been fair since. Birds wise-up pretty quickly no matter how good your spot or decoy spread.

And then came this morning.

Most of the broad pond was frozen when Bob Snyder, Andy Fanter and I arrived. Our three dozen duck decoys floated on a patch of open water about 50 yards by 50 yards.

The first birds in were a pair of teal that were followed by a virtual parade of ducks. Quite a few mallards came, as did pintails, widgeon, gadwall and shovelors.

Not only were ducks numerous but they decoyed extremely well. Most of the flocks were first seen with their wings locked. Most passes were within easy shotgun range. The majority lit or tried to land in the decoys.

We shot about half of our ducks while I was out of the blind working Hank on downed birds. There never was  a reason to take a shot past 30 yards.

We shot four species from one flock. Certainly more mallards decoyed right in than any time of the season.

We’ll go again in Monday morning, all of us hoping to see even half as many birds in close as we saw today.

It could be another morning of quick limits or we may never fire a shot.

You never know with migrations. There’s always a chance the birds moved on south with the coming cold and snow.

That knowledge makes hunts like this morning all the more special.

Meaty Venison Chili

The combination of the on-going firearms deer season and this severe cold got me thinking about a good batch of venison chili.

That ground venison is so lean and flavorful makes it ideal for making chili. I like to take it a step or two further with this popular family recipe.

1 venison roast of about 3  lbs.

1 bottle mesquite or fajita marinade

1 lime

1/4 cup liquid smoke

1 package Williams Seasonings chili mix

1- 14.5 oz. can Williams diced tomatoes

1-14.5 oz. can of beans (We mix red and black beans)

Thaw roast and slice into inch-thick slabs. Soak for 12 or so hours in marinade, liquid smoke and juice of 1/2 lime.

Place on hot grill or skillet to sear the meat on both sides. Cut into 1-inch cubes.

In a crock pot combine seasoning mix, tomatoes and beans as per mix package directions. Add the meat and the juice of the other 1/2 of the lime.

Cover and cook on low all day.

Quality care = Quality venison

In his 28 years of processing deer Mark Tittel has dealt with thousands of hunters. Most have delivered him deer he could easily process into great-tasting venison.

Others have dropped-off animals that were either of low-quality or sometimes were totally inedible. Usually one of a few things are to blame.

Read More »

Deer hunters – remember these laws

Dan Hesket, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks law enforcement assistant director, provides the following reminders for those heading afield for Wednesday’s opening of firearms deer season.

Trespass is the most common problem game wardens encounter. You must have permission to enter any private property you do not own.

If it’s posted “written permission only” or marked with purple paint you must have that written permission in-hand while hunting.

A biggie – you have the right to pursue wounded game on to property where you do not have permission. Wildlife and Parks suggests you try to contact the appropriate landowner but you can legally enter after the deer. They also suggest you leave your firearm behind.

If the owner of the land where you’re trying to recover your deer asks you to leave you must do so immediately. If you’ve already found and tagged the deer before you’re asked to leave you must take it with you.

Hesket suggests you call a game warden or the sheriff’s department if you’re asked to leave before you’ve recovered your game. They may be able to work out a compromise with the landowner.

You must sign and date the carcass tag immediately when the deer is down and dead. The deer must be tagged before it’s moved at all. That means before it is field-dressed and before it is taken to a vehicle.

Also, you must shoot and kill the deer that you tag. You can’t tag a deer someone else shot and you can’t have someone else tag a deer that you’ve killed.

Hunter orange must be worn per the letter of the law. You must have an orange cap or hat and it must be completely visible. It can’t be covered by a hood or covered with a non-orange stocking cap.

It’s the same with the 100 square inches of orange worn on the hunter’s chest and back. It must be completely visible and not covered by any other kind of garment.