Monthly Archives: February 2010

Photo contest time

Professionally speaking, this is one of my favorite times of the year. We’re deep into taking entries for The Eagle’s Great Outdoors Photo Contest. Entries will be accepted until 5 p.m. next Monday.

Every day is a new adventure as Bo Rader, our chief photographer, and I open envelopes or online entries. Every day there’s a new shot or two that really grabs our attention.

Some are amazingly good, especially this year.

We’re seeing a lot of the usual favored photo subjects – bald eagles and sunsets. We chuckle at how poorly a small percentage of entrants follow entry instructions.

This year there’s a run on owl photos for some reason.

As they have the past eight years the entries have gotten better than before.

To think, the first year a sizable percentage of entries came printed on regular computer paper.

Monday evening or Tuesday will be the toughest time as Bo, some other photographers and I try to narrow 300 or so photos down to 15 adult and 5 youth finalists.

As I look at the final selection of photos I can’t help but try to figure which ones will be voted the best when the public votes in a few weeks.

Last year I was right the first time I saw David Birmingham’s amazing photo of a brilliant male cardinal flying through a snow-covered cedar. A couple of years my initial favorite is voted out of the  pool of finalists by all the other photographers

This year?

To be honest, we have so many great entries I’m not even sure which ones I’d pick to be finalists, let alone which adult and which youth entries might win.

Like I said, it’s a lot of fun.

(For more details about The Great Outdoors Photo Contest go to

Midwest mountain lion factory going strong

Believed to be the source of most mountain lions found wandering across the midwest, the Black Hills of South Dakota continues to see its big cat population grow.

And that’s even after several successful hunting seasons.

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks website reports a 2003 study estimated the Black Hills population at about 127-149 mountain lions. A 2008 study showed the population had risen to about 220-280 lions.

Chuck Schlueter, department communications manager, said they had their first season in modern times in 2005. The current season  opened Jan. 1 and will close March 31 or whenever hunters kill a total of 40 mountain lions or 25 female mountain lions.

As of this morning 26 had been killed this year, including 17 females and 9 males.

“We’ve always met our quota before the season has ended, “Schlueter said. “It’s often the quota for females.”

While the entire state is open to mountain lion hunting during the residents-only season, Schlueter said very few have been shot outside the Black Hills. In 2009 only one was shot outside the true Black Hills and it was only a few miles to the south.

Unlike in most western states the use of dogs is not allowed for hunting South Dakota mountain lions.

“Hunters have had a great deal of success using predator calls, the basic wounded rabbit or wounded deer sounds,” Schlueter said. “Some have tried taking up a fresh track in the snow and getting themselves into position that way, too.”

Schlueter said on-going research has shown the Black Hills population to be very prolific and that the occasional animal just seems to take off across country.

Several tagged and/or radio-collard Black Hills mountain lions have made it to the Rocky Mountains to the west. One moved through North Dakota and into Canada. Another was killed by a train  in northern Oklahoma, about 40 miles south of Arkansas City. That cat had traveled more than 650 straight-line miles in less than two years.

“Most just seem to be young males out wandering,” Schlueter said. “We’ve seen no indication they’re trying to set up any home ranges outside the Black Hills.”

Croc found at Wilson Lake

Only days after news broke that angler Casey Scanlon found a sizable  alligator  floating dead at Coffey County Lake I got an e-mail of a croc found floating at Wilson Lake.

The e-mail carried a text assuring viewers that it is at Wilson Lake, though I suspect the pic was taken during a bit warmer weather

Experts say in this case where there’s one there very well be another just like the one in the photo.

Read More »


That’s Michael’s Mental Meanderings, by the way.

Interesting note from yesterday’s duck hunt near Quivira. Buddy Bob Snyder and I prefer hunting ducks to geese. Heading out we agreed we wanted to hunt the pond that would provide the best opportunity at ducks.

So, late in the day we’re watching a flock of three mallard drakes and a hen work the decoys, making their final pass. From up above four Canada geese dropped down and joined the mallards as they settled in to our decoys.

Two avid duck hunters rose – and shot all four geese. We didn’t get any mallards, though I missed one.

We were both shocked that we’d taken geese on the last day of duck season, when goose season runs another two weeks. I guess the bigger targets grabbed our eyes.

It was also the first time either of us had seen ducks and geese join flocks and land together.

Wow, they had 12 inches of snow over in that part of the world. Twice we saw the same covey of quail running down our same set of tire tracks. Don’t know if it was because it was packed and offered better footing or if they’d hoped we’d kicked-up some food.

Saw a prairie falcon while driving around.

Five swans came in to one of the ponds we hunt.

Enjoyed the KU/KSU game very much, except for the part when my 89  year-old mother-in-law decided to pick something up off the floor, totally blocking my view of the TV, with a few seconds remaining in regulation. She was just trying to help. I responded with a little light laughter. I knew there would be instant replays if I missed anything important.

Had I done such a thing in front of my wife or son – ouch!