Monthly Archives: September 2010

The amazing coyote

Friend Cheryl Miller e-mailed me a link to a really interesting article on coyotes in Monday’s New York Times.

Click here to read it.

I’ve long admired coyotes for how they’ve adapted to all of the changes on their homelands, survived more than 400 years of persecution and sometimes find unique ways to survive.

The article has some neat evidence of coyotes hunting with other animals, like badgers, hybridizing with wolves and thriving in urban areas.

Give it a read, if you get a chance.

It’s cool stuff.

Dove update

On Sunday’s cool afternoon, weeks after most Kansas hunters had given up on dove hunting, Brian Natalini and two buddies shot limits of the birds and were out of the field by about 6 p.m.

Brian Natalini and his Lab, Gunner, hunting doves on his one acre sunflower field Sunday afternoon.

Brian Natalini and his Lab, Gunner, hunting doves on his one acre sunflower field Sunday afternoon.

Earlier this month the outdoors page featured Natalini and the one acre sunflower field he manages in his backyard in southeast Kansas.

Natalini manages hunting pressure so the field’s not hunted during peak times of usage by doves and no more than two or three times a week.

Last year he and friends shot 980 doves off the one acre in Cherokee County. This year they’re “only” up to 502 doves this season. Natalini largely blames poor hatching numbers from the early summer for noticilby fewer doves this season.

Still, his hunting this year has been pretty impressive. Opening day ten hunters shot 150 in 75 minutes…during a monsoon like rain.

Brian Natalini recently installed two old utility poles and a connecting wire to help attract doves.

Brian Natalini recently installed two old utility poles and a connecting wire to help attract doves.

To make the field even better, Natalini recently placed two old utility poles in the field and stretched about 70 feet of wire about 20 feet above the ground. Doves love to rest on utility wires.

Several of Natalini’s friends have created their own small dove fields by planting sunflowers and mowing them just before the season opens.

“You have to keep those fields free of weeds,” Natalini said to those wanting to try his idea. “You can’t just plant it and leave it alone. You have to get out and spray to keep the weeds down in the summer.”

Click here to read more about Natalini’s special dove field.

Be sure to check out the photo gallery that’s attached to the above link.

Binoculars+cell phone = cool pic

Ever been afield and wished you had a camera with a telephoto lens so you could share something special with friends?

Nick Muche was earlier this week when a young bobcat came by his treestand while he was bowhunting deer.

Bobcat 1 Rather than let a cool opportunity pass he went to work with his  cell phone and binoculars, eventually getting these photos.

Pretty cool, huh?

Those who know Nick aren’t surprised at his ingenuity. The 20-something is getting to be well-known, and even better liked, in the local bowhunting community.

He’s super-friendly, works hard at the sport, stays positive and goes out of his way to help others.

He’s stashing money away in hopes of buying hunting land in Kansas. The native of the Great Lakes region loves hunting enough to know this is where he wants to settle when his military career is over. Bobcat 2

Here’s a link to a story we ran on Nick about a year ago, when he took a trophy buck on his first hunt after returning from Kuwait.

Whitetail doe on the go

For years books and magazine articles have told us white-tailed deer are home-bodies. Many authors claim bucks and does usually are born and die in the same small area.

“Evidentally she didn’t read those articles,” Phil Kirkland said of a doe that went on quite the walk-about. “I figure she’d gone at least 120 straight-line miles.”

Research on tagged deer on the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge show that many don't travel far. But a doe recently road-killed 40 miles north Salina had probable traveled at least 10 miles.

Research on tagged and collared deer on the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge show that many don't travel far. But a doe recently road-killed 40 miles north Salina had probably traveled at least 120 miles.

A few weeks ago Kirkland, a game warden, was called about a road-kill about 40 miles north of Salina. It was a doe that was wearing a tracking collar and ear tags from a Quivira National Wildlife Refuge research project.

For about four years biologists have been studying the movements and lifestyles of several dozen deer wearing tracking collars on the refuge about 45 minutes west of Hutchinson.

Some of the deer haven’t gone very far.

My hunting buddies and I have shot four of the marked deer on lands that border Quivira over the past two deer seasons. All were captured and collared within a mile of where they were killed. Biologists asked hunters to treat the marked deer like any other deer so they could study mortality rates as well as other things.

When he went to retrieve the collar from the road-killed doe Kirkland learned several locals had seen the doe in the area over the summer.

“They just figured she was somebody’s captive deer that had escaped. She’d been in that area for a while,” he said. “We’ve had collared bucks show-up three miles from the refuge. People say those deer never leave Quivira but some sure do. This sure proves it.”?

Huge ‘gator draws varied comments

That a woman from Massachusetts caught and killed a 1,025 pound alligator in South Carolina is pretty big news. The huge reptile was about 13 feet long.

She had a special permit to hunt alligators at Lake Moultrie. I can think of at least six southern states that issue limited numbers of permits to hunters to help keep area alligator populations under control.

Once feared to be heading to extinction in the 60s and 70s, alligator populations are now thriving across the south. They’ve become problem animals in some suburban areas.

Interesting story, even more interesting are the comments placed by readers, like on the below links. Below the CBS story you’ll find comments that are, well, pretty negative.

Then check out the comments from an article that ran in a South Carolina newspaper.

The CBS story.

South Carolina newspaper story.

More teal, Knot a problem

Word from friends in Great Bend is that Cheyenne Bottoms got a huge push of teal Saturday morning. Hunters told of nearly constant flights of 50-100.

And Friday the action was almost non-existant. Welcome to September teal.

Sorry, no word from Quivira or private marshes in the area. A second-hand report said the McPherson Wetlands have gotten more birds.

This week I saw several friends lose fish when their knots failed them. All were using improved clinch knots, which are the old stand-by. I’m guessing they didn’t cinch the knot down tight with a little saliva and their fingers. They also may have clipped the tag-end of the line too short.

If you’re tying the knot be sure it’s totally snugged down using your thumb and forefinger nails. Leave at least 1/4-inch of line showing.

Good fishing. A lot of assorted fish are being caught.

Notes on something and nothing

Yesterday afternoon I fished a stream in the Flint Hills and was absolutely stunned and what high water had done since I was there in late May. A gravel bar as large as a small house had been moved downstream about 50 yards.

Fishing was decent despite high, murky water. My personal highlight was a 12-inch largemouth that struck a spinnerbait as I fished from a high bank.

When the time was right I lifted the rod and pulled the fish out of the water and over the bank. It fell off immediately and flopped in the leaves. Thinking nothing of it I nudged him back into the stream with my foot.

About two seconds later I noticed there wasn’t a lure on my line. It had come untied and I’d obviously just released a fish with a $4 lure in his mouth.

Oh well, I guess he’ll be the prettiest bass in that stream. Hope the other fish don’t strike at the spinner as it flutters about when the fish swims. That would have to hurt ol’ Pretty Boy after a while.

Here’s an interesting press release from Ducks Unlimited about CRP and the habitat it provides in the prairie pothole region. You’ll need to scroll down a bit to read it.  I’m at a loss for how to get it higher. Sorry.

Loss could result in 100,000 fewer ducks in the fall flight each year

BISMARCK, ND, Sept. 16, 2010 – In spite of the good news that USDA is signing up nearly 32 million Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres, Ducks Unlimited (DU) is concerned the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) will still be losing more than 250,000 acres of CRP this year.  Those acres are especially important for duck production.
“Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack tried to keep environmentally sensitive land in CRP, but for a number of reasons, landowners in portions of the PPR were not as interested as we had hoped,” said Scott McLeod, DU governmental affairs representative for agricultural policy. “The resulting loss of CRP acres in the PPR will mean fewer acres available for nesting ducks when they arrive on the breeding grounds next year.”
DU scientists estimate a loss of 250,000 aces of CRP could reduce the fall flight by more than 100,000 ducks per year. Compounding the loss of CRP land is the ongoing conversion of native grassland to cropland, estimated at over 200,000 acres annually. Another 3.5 million, or 35 percent of the current CRP acres in the PPR, will expire in 2011-2012.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that slightly more than 4.3 million acres were enrolled in CRP in August. More than 4.8 million acres were offered nationwide by landowners during this general sign-up.
In the PPR, almost 674,000 acres were enrolled in the sign-up, while 973,000 are expiring at the end of this month. Some of those lost acres are likely to be offset by new enrollments in continuous CRP practices.  McLeod says landowner interest may have been limited in the PPR by factors such as the sign-up coinciding with the peak of small grain harvest in the Dakotas, CRP rental payments still being too low and possible competition with continuous CRP practices, which provide greater financial incentives.
“Landowners did not receive points for wetlands in the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) during this sign-up like they have in the past, and this undoubtedly was a factor in the lower acceptance rates in portions of the PPR,” he said. Only four states had a lower acceptance rate than North Dakota. CRP offers are given an EBI score that reflects the environmental sensitivity of the land and then compete nationally with all other offers. Offers receiving the highest scores are accepted for enrollment.
Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres, thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.
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Becky Jones Mahlum Bismarck, ND  701-355-3507 bjonesmahlum@ducks.org
Jennifer Kross Bismarck, ND 701-355-3515 jkross@ducks.org

If you would rather not receive future communications from Ducks Unlimited, let us know by clicking here.
Ducks Unlimited, One Waterfowl Way, Memphis, TN 38120 United States

Chaplin a special place

Kansas has a lot of well-known places for those who enjoy spending time outdoors.

Wednesday afternoon I was blessed to spend a few hours at one that’s lesser-known but obviously very, very special.

A monarch butterfly sits on tall thistle at the Chaplin Nature Center. The center offers access to 230 acres of varied habitats.

A monarch butterfly sits on tall thistle at the Chaplin Nature Center. The center offers access to 230 acres of varied habitats.

I’ll contend the Chaplin Nature Center is one of the best outdoors destinations within an hour of Wichita. It’s 230 acres of natural Kansas that’s open to the public for free.

Owned and funded by the Wichita Audubon Society, Chaplin contains sizable portions of tall grass prairie, upland timber, bottomland forest, a small stream and a long section of the Arkansas River.

Hiking trails totaling 4 1/2-miles make for ideal birding or pleasure walking for nature  lovers of any age.  There’s an education center and a lot of great programs scheduled through the year.

Sept. 25 is their annual Fall Nature Day and includes monarch butterfly tagging and a variety of educational programs for kids and adults.

Signs a few miles west of Arkansas City on Hwy. 166 lead the public to the center.

If you’ve never been,you need to go. Soon. It’s a special place.

And did I mention it’s FREE?

Cold pop for “sell”

Driving through small Kansas towns often provides a few chuckles.

A year ago Travis Heying and I were in St. John when I noticed a decent stand of marijuana plants growing up from the bed of an old pick-up.

Earlier this month I spotted this sign on a broken soda machine in Columbus.

blogshots09070002_mp I wonder if they were saling Dr. Peper or Koke?

But I guess it’s certainly not like I haven’t had my share of typos in my time.

Watch out for wood ducks

It sounds like a lot of teal were shot at Cheyenne Bottoms on the recent opening weekend of teal season.

Unfortunately it sounds like quite a few wood ducks were shot, too.

Teal are all that’s legal during this special September season that’s held so hunters can get a crack at the early migrations of blue-winged teal.

Hunting is always an on-going chore of target identification. Is it in range? Is it a legal animal? Is that animal in a place that allows a safe shot?

But things appear to be particularly complicated this September because of very high numbers of wood ducks at several central Kansas marshes. A good friend said he saw more wood ducks on Cheyenne Bottoms Saturday afternoon that he’s seen in all of the 25 seasons he’s hunted the marsh combined.

But the friend afield Saturday afternoon saw seven illegal birds shot in less than three hours by other hunting parties. What he didn’t see, unfortunately, was a game warden working the marsh.

(Hey, big state, few wardens and only so many hours they can work in a week. It happens.)

Anyway, if you’re heading out after teal be doubly careful this season.  Remember that target identification is one of our greatest responsibilities.