Monthly Archives: December 2010

Wasting geese not acceptable- ever!

Jerry Dieckman has a request for the people who dumped 11 uncleaned Canada geese near his property around 31st S and 127th E – stop it.  He doesn’t want to deal with the mess.

I have a request to the same folks – stop hunting. Seriously.

Dieckman found the geese Wednesday and gave me a call. Off the top of my head I told him the yo-yos had violated laws like littering and wanton waste of wildlife.

As bad in my  mind is that such action in totally unethical.

The way I see it those geese could have provided 20 to 40 meals or several pounds of great goose jerky. It would have taken about a half-hour of time to simply remove the breast meat.

Come on, if you have the time to set out decoys you have time to take care of your kill.

If you don’t want them give them to someone who does. If you don’t know anyone who does clean them and freeze them until you find someone. Lots of people enjoy making jerky and goose breast works great ground or thinly sliced.

Simply tossing them away just isn’t acceptable.

If you can’t hunt right them please just stop. You’re wasting a precious natural resource and making those of us who work hard to hunt right look bad.

Missouri wolf or coyote, take two

Several days ago I blogged that the Missouri Department of Conservation had announced an animal shot by a hunter in November was a coyote and not a wolf has had been believed. DNA evidence was credited for the identification.

Missouri wildlife officials said DNA evidence shows this animal shot during their recent deer season is a just a large coyotes.

Missouri wildlife officials said DNA evidence shows this animal shot during their recent deer season is a just a large coyotes.

Several readers, though, say there’s no way an animal that reportedly weighed 104 pounds can be a pure coyote.

They have a point. Take a look at the photo.

I’ve seen a lot of coyotes but none that were half the size of the animal in the photos sent to me by a mutual friend of the deer hunter who pulled the trigger.

(At the time, he thought he was shooting a coyote. He called a local game warden as soon as he  saw the animal’s size and appearance.)

Does that look like a coyote to you? Me neither.

A little research shows it could be a wild wolf with some coyote DNA in its gene pool. That’s been documented.

Wolf, coyote or hybrid? It's a rare and huge midwestern coyote that makes it to 50 pounds. This animal was more than twice that size.

Wolf, coyote or hybrid? It's a rare and huge midwestern coyote that makes it to 50 pounds. This animal was more than twice that size.

It’s possible the animal is any sort of mixture of a wolf, coyote, domestic dog hybrid.

None of the above would be out of the question.

Pure wolves have wandered as far south as Missouri from packs around the Great Lakes.

Wolf/dog hybrids are sold as pets.

But sorry, MDOC, I’m not buying that it is just an abnormally large coyote based on the photos.

Merry Christmas!

Hope all are inside, warm and spending time with loved ones.

Also hope all get a chance to get out and enjoy the Kansas outdoors this weekend and coming week.

No shortage of geese around south-central Kansas and pheasants further west. Eagle watching could be productive up and down the Arkansas Rivers down to the Oklahoma border.

The huge numbers of bald eagles at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge are gone but there are still 40-100 of the big birds around.

Take binoculars and/or a spotting scope and check the trees across the Big Salt Marsh. That’s where the birds had concentrated to feed on fish killed by the summer and early fall drought. You may see them anywhere on or near the refuge, though. We saw several a few miles south and east of Quivira this week.

The marsh now has near-normal water/ice levels thanks to a mid-November rain.

Enjoy your days outdoors while you can. It looks like we may be getting a touch or real winter weather by the end of next week.

Kansas’ mountain lion #5 verified

Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks biologists just released verification of a mountain lion photographed by a trail camera in Nemaha County on Dec. 7.

Matt Peek, Wildlife and Parks furbearer biologist, said the department heard about the photos on Dec. 16. A staff biologist inspected the area where the photo was taken the next day to verify the landscape as pictured in the photo.

Peek said the department is honoring the landowner’s wishes to remain anonymous and that the photos not be shared with others.

This is the fifth mountain lion verified in Kansas since 2007, when a Barber County landowner shot and killed one on his property. Before that the last official verification was one shot in western Kansas in 1904.

It’s strongly believed the Kansas cats are wandering in from areas with expanding mountain lion populations, especially the South Dakota Black Hills. In March a mountain lion radio-collared in the Colorado mountains traveled roughly north to south across far western Kansas in less than one month.

That cat, a young male, eventually ended up in central New Mexico. It had traveled more than 1,000 miles from where it was collared and released.

In late October a Kansas bowhunter also found photos of a mountain lion on a trail camera in Republic County. Peek was one of the biologists who investigated that location and verified the photos.

Republic and Nemaha Counties are along the Nebraska border and about 100 miles apart. Peek said it’s possible the trail camera photos from the two counties could be of the same mountain lion but said he lacks enough details to officially confirm or deny that possibility.

Biologists in states with solid populations have long said trail camera photos and road-kills are easy to find when mountain lions are in an area.

Bird count notes

As is always the case, there are some pretty interesting things coming from this winter’s Christmas Bird Counts.

The 200-plus bald eagles found during the Quivira count will be talked about for years. It may be the greatest concentration of eagles in Kansas in modern times. Shoot, ancient times, too, for that matter.

You have to wonder how long it will take that many eagles to consume the huge amounts of dead carp and other fish that have caused the big birds to gather in such numbers.

I think most people would be surprised at the large numbers of robins wintering in Kansas this year. About 5,000 were reported on the Wichita count and about 50,000 in Lawrence.

About every winter I get a call from someone telling me they’ve seen a robin in their yard, wondering if that means we’ll have a very early spring.

Oh, if you’re wanting to head to Cheyenne Bottoms to look for the long-tailed duck reported on that count you can save yourself the trip. Saturday morning it was shot by hunters. It was perfectly legal and the bird is on the way to a taxidermist.

Most excellent eagle watching

To most people it’s still a pretty big deal to see a bald eagle in Kansas.

Imagine seeing more than 200 in one day.

It happened Tuesday to a crew of birders doing the annual Christmas Bird Count at the Quivira National Wildlife refuge.

The birds are stacked up at the refuge making good use of  a major kill on carp at the refuge’s Big Salt Marsh. The fish died when water levels dropped at the marsh.

Everything from tiny turtles to bald eagles are feasting on dead carp at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

Everything from tiny turtles to bald eagles are feasting on dead carp at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

About a month ago I photographed two whooping cranes picking at the carcasses.

Who knows how much longer the carp-fest will continue. No doubt 200 bald eagles can eat a lot in a hurry.

People wanting to enjoy the sight of so many eagles probably better get it done this weekend. Be sure to take good binoculars and be ready to use them scanning trees across the Big Salt Marsh.

But hey, if you can’t go this weekend go the next or the one after that. There should be eagles and clouds of waterfowl around for weeks to come.

Drive slowly down Q’s road’s, too. You don’t want to miss seeing any wildlife…especially a deer getting ready to jump in front of your car or truck.

Upon further review, Mo’s wolf really a coyote

A few weeks ago I blogged that a Missouri hunter shot what was thought to be a wolf in the northern part of the state on Nov. 13.

Click HERE to read the original blog.

The photos sure looked like a wolf and the thing was far larger than the average Missouri coyote. But that’s what it was, a coyote.

A very, very big coyote. Click here to read an update from the K.C. Star.

It happens in the wild. Every so often you come across the whitetail doe or male fox squirrel that’s the equivalent of the 400-pound woman or 100-pound adult man.

Still, wolves in northern Missouri and other midwestern states is far from impossible thanks to expanding populations in the northern Rocky Mountains and Great Lakes region.

White deer of Kansas better head to Oklahoma

The national news has been reporting teasing amounts of information about an Oklahoma state representative who shot a deer, got the local newspaper to do a story on it and then was issued a citation for doing it illegally.

Click HERE to read the original story.

A call to the law enforcement folks of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation found out the guy didn’t have the special, no-cost permit required to shoot a white deer in Oklahoma. He had the regular hunting license and the normal deer license.

Thing is, in Oklahoma hunters must get a special permit from the department director to shoot a deer that’s all or partially white. (The deer in question was a piebald, meaning it was partially white.)

In some states it’s totally illegal to shoot a white deer. According to Wildlife and Parks officials they’re treated like any other deer in Kansas. If you have the proper hunting license and deer permits take your time and squeeze the trigger or archery release.

The only white deer I’ve seen in the wild was a small spike buck on public lands in Pennsylvania. I’m guessing he didn’t last too long once gun season opened.

Twenty or so years ago there were photos around of some white mule deer in western Kansas. About eight or nine years ago Eagle photographer Travis Heying photographed a small white buck on the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.  It was very interesting that none of the refuge staff had ever seen that buck or gotten any reports that it was around.

Such deer are just unique color phases of run-of-the-mill deer we have roaming around Kansas.

So, with a few more bowhunts left this year and the January season for does, what would I do if a legal white deer walked out within range?

I’d probably let it walk, but that’s just me.

Life hunt continued…

One of the few drawbacks of my job are the limitations of the printed page. There’s only so much space so sometimes we run stories shorter than we’d like or use two or three photos when we have 10 to 12 good ones.

So it was with Sunday’s article about the Life Hunt for kids with life-threatening illnesses at Larned. Fortunately we have the wide-open world of online to help with that problem.

Residents of Larned paid all the costs for Michael Santonastasso, left,  to bring his son, Nicholas, on a special deer hunt in Kansas. this weekend.

Residents of Larned paid all the costs for Michael Santonastasso, left, to bring his son, Nicholas, on a special deer hunt in Kansas. this weekend. Nick was born with no legs, one arm and one finger.

You can click here to read the story. Be sure to check the photo gallery attachment after you open the story, too.

And now as Paul Harvey often said, “Here’s the rest of the story.”

*There are other Life Hunts in Kansas, though the one in Larned has the longest history, highest success on trophy bucks and most community involvement.
*Both boys – Nicholas Santonastasso and Matthew Billy – are from families of avid hunters. Both had taken a small buck and does before with the help of family and friends.That means they and the closest people in their lives can appreciate the size of the deer they took.
Both boys love all aspects of the outdoors, including fishing.
*The boys are largely opposites in terms of personalities. Nick, 14 and from New Jersey, is vivacious, outwardly friendly and grabs life by large bites at a time. The dude can shoot a mean spit-wad out of a soda straw. Guide Mike Hauser may be wishing he wouldn’t have gone there when he started the duel across a Larned restaurant. (Bald heads make a pretty inviting target, huh, Nick?)
Matthew, 11 and from eastern Oklahoma, is a classic case of still waters running deep. He didn’t say much after he shot the kind of buck none of his friends back home have ever seen. (Shoot, Matt, I’ve hunted Kansas all my life and I haven’t even had the chance to miss a buck like that big 12-pointer…and miss is what I would do because I’d be shaking so much!)
Even though he was quiet and reserved after the shot, a look in his eyes and at the slight smile on his face showed he was moved deeply inside.
*The Larned Life Hunt faces a few challenges as it looks to the future.
Tim Schaller, hunt co-founder, worries an outfitter might lease or buy the hunt’s 2,000 acres out from under the program. Schaller already leases the land but couldn’t compete with what an outfitter charging $5,000 per antler-crazed hunter could pay.
* (This is my favorite) Schaller said one of the biggest obstacles facing Life Hunts around the country is pressure from anti-hunting, anti-gun groups and many within the medical profession.
Most medical organizations working with life-threatened kids refuse to release any names or allow Life Hunt organizers to advertise within their publications.
Schaller had direct communications with one such administrator who refused to cooperate because he deemed hunting too dangerous. Schaller provided national studies that showed hunting is far safer than things like football, riding bikes and roller-blading.
“He refused to accept the facts from those studies,” Schaller said.
Employees within hospitals that work with life-threatened kids have been threatened with job termination if they recommend a child to Life Hunt organizers.
*Personally speaking, I’m always proud to be a sixth-generation Kansan but there are times when that pride climbs even higher than normal. Watching a small Kansas town – Larned – so open its arms to these kids is one of those times. Amazing, simply amazing.
My take on a motto for the hunt.
Ad cervus per aspera
(To the deer, through difficulty!)

And I get paid for this!

Pretty good morning at the “office,” watching 14-year-old Nicholas Santonastasso shoot the biggest buck he’s ever seen. His father, Michael, got so emotional I was almost afraid he was going to hurt Nicholas with a massive bear hug.

Nicholas Santonastasso, Bayville, NJ, shot this buck Friday morning near Larned. He was part of a special Life Hunt for kids with life-threatening illnesses or severe disabilities.

Nicholas Santonastasso, Bayville, NJ, shot this buck Friday morning near Larned. He was part of a special Life Hunt for kids with life-threatening illnesses or severe disabilities.

Nicholas was born without legs. He has one arm with one finger.

The Bayville, NJ teen is one of two kids in Larned this weekend as part of a Life Hunt for kids with severe disabilities or life-threatening illnesses.

This is the 10th annual Life Hunt and the goal is always to get kids trophy bucks. Most succeed thanks to the dedication of local sportsmen.

The community raises enough money to cover all expenses for the visiting youth, including taxidermy.

It was an amazing thing to see the smile on the faces of father and son when something once beyond their dreams was accomplished.

And I was paid to be there as a writer/photographer even though I’d volunteered to help for free.

Check Sunday’s Wichita Eagle for the story and photos.

Gotta run, I’m “working” with the other kid this afternoon.