Monthly Archives: June 2010

Endangered birds return to Wichita

For at least the second year federally endangered least terns are nesting near a sand pit in northwest Wichita.

Bob Gress, Great Plains Nature Center director, reported 12 nests at the Lafarge Aggregate Plant near 29th N. and West Street. Gress made the report on an online birding site.

LaFarge is cooperating with state and federal authorities to protect the nesting area. The entire sand pit area is private property and trespassing is not allowed by the general public.

Least terns nest on wide-open areas with sandy soils. Sand and gravel bars along the Arkansas, Kansas and Cimarron Rivers in Kansas had nesting birds within the past several years. Brush growing on some gravel bars in the Kansas River has discouraged some terns from again nesting in once popular ares.

Click here to see a photo gallery of nesting least terns taken last year at the Lafarge area.

Tiny fawn great west Wichita photo find

With a lawn that  borders farm fields Alan Disney sees so much wildlife in his west Wichita yard he keeps a camera with a telephoto lens by the window at all times.

Alan Disney thinks the tiny fawn with wobbly legs he photographed in his yard was probably only a few hours old.

Alan Disney thinks the tiny fawn with wobbly legs he photographed in his yard was probably only a few hours old.

About a week ago  Disney got photos he may never top with these shots of a wobbly-legged fawn.

Alan Disney got several good photos of this tiny fawn in his backyard in the Auburn Hills area of west Wichita.

Alan Disney got several good photos of this tiny fawn in his backyard in the Auburn Hills area of west Wichita.

“It seems like every day something else is coming through the yard,” said Disney, a retired fire-fighter. “We get a lot of turkeys and I’ve seen a lot of deer.”

Disney said he cautiously approached the tiny fawn as the maternal doe watched from just outside his lawn.

“I know it couldn’t have been very old because it was kind of wobbly as it tried to get around,” Disney said.

The fawn eventually joined the doe and left.

He’s seen the fawn and doe several times since. The young whitetail has gained coordination and strength quickly.

Flip Phillips – a short but full life

We said we’d get together soon when Flip Phillips and I last saw each other about a year ago.

Tomorrow I’ll go to his funeral.

Flip was 49 when he lost a short battle with cancer.

He was as tall and strong and vivacious as ever at our chance meeting at Gander Mountain. It was our first face-to-face in several years though it carried as much comfort as if we’d seen each other often.

Flip Phillips had a way of enjoying life, and making sure those afield with him did, too. Phillips, 49, died last week from cancer.

Flip Phillips had a way of enjoying life and making sure those afield with him did, too. Phillips, 49, died last week from cancer.

Flip first asked about my kids, with detailed questions about each. He talked long and passionate about his wife, Lana, when I asked “what’s new?”

Half-way through the half-hour conversation we began talking about hunting, which is what brought us together.

There were a few years when we’d shared quite a bit of time awaiting ducks and geese on his places and chasing turkeys and sharp-tailed grouse on some of mine.

For no real reason contact had been considerably less the past five years. No matter, it was still easy to consider Flip a good friend.

Some people are considered friends because of the quantity of time we spend with them. Others are cherished because of the quality of time, no matter how infrequent, that’s shared.

Flip was certainly the latter. I doubt I ever needed an alarm to awaken me mornings we met for hunts. There was no doubt something special was coming that day.

He was amazingly gracious and generous, especially when kids were along.

I remember Flip patiently helping Jerrod as they worked towards my son’s first limit of ducks. Flip piled layers of his own coats and jackets on Lindsey as she shivered on a goose hunt.

We laughed hard and often on most hunts. His enthusiasm was amazing.

Flip, as they say, always “got his money’s worth out of life.”

He went often, stayed late and had great skills on everything from fly-fishing for trout to teal, trophy whitetails to long-bearded turkeys. The guy had so many friends I’ve run into them in all parts of Kansas and several other states.

I guess that gives us a little solace for Flip’s passing at such a relatively young age.

In his years he enjoyed more and provided more enjoyment than any sportsman, of any age, I’ve ever met.

I was certainly fortunate to have been on the receiving end of his friendship.

Until we get together again, Flip.

Thanks.

Buffalo without wings, horns

Several times a year someone sends a photo of a big fish with something like “what the heck is it?” in the text.

Kendall Shaw sent such an image of his son, Caden, with a huge fish over the weekend.

As usaul, the fish was a bigmouth buffalo.

Caden Shaw got this 51-pound bigmouth buffalo while bowfishing near Manhattan last weekend.

Caden Shaw got this 51-pound bigmouth buffalo while bowfishing near Manhattan last weekend.

For a fish seldom seen by anglers bigmouth and smallmouth buffalo are amazingly common in many Kansas waters. Commercial fisherman J.D. Bell has netted hundreds of tons of the fish from within several reservoirs. He’s sold truckloads of the fish in markets as far away as New York.

Freeing the lakes of such amazing densities has opened a lot of growing room for other species of fish, including bass, walleye and crappie.

Both species of buffalo can grow to impressive sizes. The state record bigmouth buffalo is 58-pounds and Kansas’ largest smallmouth buffalo 51- pounds.

World-records are about 73 and 68.5-pounds, respectively.

Opening Day, Few Hunters Afield

This is the opening day of what could be an enjoyable hunting season for thousands of Kansans. But I’d be surprised if more than a dozen sportsmen across the entire state are afield celebrating the beginning of our new squirrel season.

Part of the problem is that the words “summer” and “hunting” don’t go together for most hunters.

And summer squirrel hunting has such challenges as ticks, chiggers, sweat-soaked clothing, mosquitoes and face-wrapping spider webs.

But the major limiting factor is simply a lack of squirrel hunters in Kansas. It wasn’t always that way.

As a kid I knew quite a few guys from my Dad’s generation who enjoyed slipping through the woods with a .22 or .410. Probably eight or ten of the boys in my small high school class hunted for squirrels on a regular basis.

But the last time I tried to find someone to be the subject for a squirrel hunting article it took a lot of looking. Jerrod and his buddy, Luke Templin, are the only hunters under the age of about 25 I’ve met in many years who occassionally hit the woods for squirrels.

I guess more glamorous things like hunting for deer, ducks, and pheasants take clear precedence over for such old-time favorites as rabbits and squirrels.

Kansas has some of the best squirrel hunting in the nation, but don't expect to find many sportsman afield for today's opening of the season.

Kansas has some of the best squirrel hunting in the nation, but don't expect to find many sportsman afield for today's opening of the season.

That’s a shame. Kansas has some great squirrel hunting on public lands, a long season that runs through Feb. 28, high success rates and squirrel hunting takes no more special equipment than a .22 or shotgun and a handful of shells. Still, hunters who like to use calls, dogs, stalking, stands and still-hunting can use those techniques on squirrels.

And yes, they are good to eat.

Hey, my Grandma’s family didn’t call them “limb-chickens” for nothing!

Several times in recent years I’ve had someone approach me with an interest in hunting but a frustration in finding good hunting lands and the costs and equipment it takes to get into deer, upland birds or waterfowl hunting.

None have taken my suggestion get try squirrel hunting.

No, I’m not just back from the woods with a quick opening day limit.

But I’ll try to go a few times before the Sept. 1 opening of dove season starts the roll of standard hunting seasons. Chance are I’ll find a lot of action and nobody else in the woods.

Like I said, that’s a shame.