Monthly Archives: February 2011

Eagle cam for a cool view

OK, I’ve seen enough bald eagles in my life that I don’t go out of my way to see others.

But that changed today when Wichita Eagle editor Sherry Chisenhall forwarded a link with a live camera view of a nesting pair of bald eagles in Virginia.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LINK TO SEE  NESTING BALD EAGLES.

It seems like a pretty cool project with the state’s wildlife department and the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

I have a feeling I’ll be checking this pretty often, especially once the eggs hatch and eaglets are being fed.

Deer season changes discussed

At the Kansas Bowhunters Association convention in Hutchinson Wildlife and Parks asked for opinions on three possible changes to current deer seasons.

Lloyd Fox, Big Game Program Coordinator, said the department is searching for ways to increase hunting opportunity and possibly take more whitetail does. He stressed the following changes aren’t yet being formally proposed.

-A youth deer season around the Christmas holidays while kids are off from school. Firearms and all kinds of permits would be allowed.

-An October weekend when firearms hunting would be allowed for antlerless whitetails. It’s thought the season may get more does killed, especially before rut when deer/vehicle accidents are highest.

-Extend archery deer season into or possibly through January. Archers would be able to take does or a buck depending on the permits they possess. Fox said the extension is to offer more opportunity and possibly compensate bowhunters if one of the above seasons ends up within the on-going archery season.

Bowhunters attending the talk offered few opinions on the possible season changes. Several questioned Fox about the state’s monitoring system on hunter success and overall harvest.

Fox also announced ten probable cases of chronic wasting disease had been detected in western Kansas deer shot during recent deer seasons. One case in Smith County is the furthest east the disease has been found in Kansas.

Native Americans get Yellowstone Bison

OK, so maybe it would be more realistic if they were using flint-tipped arrows or shooting with muzzleloading rifles from horseback. But it’s still pretty neat to see a treaty made  more than 150 years ago honored by the American government.

Several Native American tribes recently got to hunt bison near Yellowstone National Park, honoring a treaty more than 150 years old.

CLICK HERE to read about several northwestern tribes getting to hunt buffalo near Yellowstone National Park.

Sounds like a win-win situation to me. The hunt, (Well, getting buffalo has long been more of a “shoot” than a “hunt.”), helps keep herd numbers under control and provides tons of healthy meat for some who can really use it.

It also lets some people who saw their cultures almost totally trashed by the U.S. Government get a chance to enjoy some of the traditions of their ancestors.

And you know, if I was a bison I think I’d rather be shot and consumed by the native people than dragged down by a pack of wolves or slowly freeze to death some tough, Rocky Mountain winter.

Well done on all counts.

Sportsmen pay their way and more

Congratulations if you purchased fishing lures or a box of ammunition last year. Excise taxes on your purchases helped fund about $749 million that largely went to conservation efforts.

Sportsmen continue to raise millions for assorted conservation programs through excise taxes on equipment and licenses.

Here’s the recent press release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It leaves no doubt hunters, shooters, anglers and boaters are paying their way and much more.

SALAZAR ANNOUNCES $749 MILLION TO STATES
FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE PROJECTS

Hunting and fishing industry, as well as recreational shooters, hunters,
boaters, and anglers, continue to fund conservation in the nation.

(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today the distribution of more than $749 million in excise tax revenues generated by sportsmen and women to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration and Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Programs.

“Hunters and anglers have provided the foundation for wildlife conservation in America for more than 75 years. They continue to provide dedicated, critical funding for fish and wildlife agencies across the nation, especially at a time when many state budgets are under pressure,” said Secretary Salazar. “These funds will support important fish and wildlife management and conservation, recreational boating access, and hunter and aquatic education programs.”

Program funds come from excise taxes paid by manufacturers, producers, and importers on sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment and tackle, and electric outboard motors. Recreational boaters also contribute to the program through fuel taxes on motorboats and small engines.

The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program apportionment for 2011 totals more than $384 million, of which more than $79 million is for hunter education and safety programs.  The Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program apportionment for 2011 totals nearly $365 million, of which nearly $55 million is for recreational boating access facilities. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program reimburses up to 75 percent of the cost of each eligible project while State fish and wildlife agencies contribute a minimum of  25 percent, generally using hunting and fishing license revenues as the required non-Federal match.

“Our partnership with America’s hunting, fishing and boating community through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs is the cornerstone for funding fish and wildlife conservation,” said Curtis Taylor, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Section.  “Fish and wildlife can be conserved, protected and restored through science-based management and this year’s apportionment is critical in order for state fish and wildlife agencies to continue their work on behalf of everyone who values our nation’s natural resources.”

Please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program Web site at http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/ for more information on the goals and accomplishments of these programs and for individual State, Commonwealth, and territorial funding allocations. Some examples of activities planned by State fish and wildlife agencies in 2011 include:

Florida – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will construct a restroom facility and a pavilion at the Escambia County Archery Park. They will also construct a trap and skeet range and a .22 plinking range at Tenoroc Shooting Range. This will provide more recreational shooting opportunities for the public.

Rhode Island – The Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife will acquire approximately 85 acres adjoining Carr Pond near North Kingstown, Rhode Island. This property is a former Girl Scout property. The pond is the site of an extremely productive herring and alewife run. The property will provide protection of fish and wildlife habitat in the area and recreational opportunities for the public.

Texas – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will construct a new two-lane boat ramp, parking lot, courtesy dock, and lighting in Muenster, Texas. The new facility will provide the only public access to the lake for fishing and other recreational boating pursuits. This will be the first public boat ramp in Cooke County.

Oregon – The agency will identify sturgeon population limiting factors, develop responsive management strategies, and define pertinent monitoring and evaluation activities as part of management plan development.  They will also measure juvenile recruitment through young-of-the-year sampling in the lower Columbia River and carry out a pilot study of set line sampling for adult and sub-adult white sturgeon.  Sampling for young-of-year white sturgeon will increase the effects of environmental stressors on the population.  A supplementary benefit of this task is the opportunity to collect DNA tissue samples that represent fish in a single year’s recruitment.  DNA samples will be available for future characterization of effective spawning population size and for genetic stock comparisons with fish collected outside the Columbia River.

Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program funding is available to all 50 states, the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. One-half of the 11 percent excise tax on bows, arrows, and archery equipment and 10 percent excise tax on handguns, pistols, and revolvers make up the funding for hunter education programs.  The other one-half of the excise tax are for wildlife restoration purposes, including the 11 percent excise tax on firearms and ammunition.

Each state or territory receives a Wildlife Restoration Program apportionment derived from a formula that incorporates its total land area and number of paid hunting license holders.  Each state or territory may not receive more than 5 percent or less than one-half of 1 percent of the total apportionment. Fish and wildlife agencies use these funds to manage wildlife populations, conduct habitat research, acquire wildlife habitat, enhance wildlife habitat, and public hunting access, carry out surveys and inventories, administer hunter education programs, and construct and maintain shooting and archery ranges.

The Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program funding is available to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. States receive funds through a formula based on the land and water area of the state or territory and its total number of paid fishing license holders. Sport Fish Restoration funds come from excise taxes and import duties on sport fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels, and pleasure boats. No State may receive more than 5 percent or less than one-third of 1 percent of the total apportionment.

Fish and Wildlife agencies use the funds to pay for stocking sport fish; acquiring and improving sport fish habitat; providing aquatic resource education opportunities; conducting fisheries research; maintaining public fishing access, administering the  aquatic resource education program, and constructing boat ramps, fishing piers, and other facilities for recreational boating access.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs have generated a total of more than $13.7 billion since their inception – in 1937 in the case of the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program, and 1950 for the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Program.  to conserve fish and wildlife resources. The recipient fish and wildlife agencies have matched these program funds with more than $3.4 billion. This funding is critical to continue sustaining healthy fish and wildlife populations and provide opportunities for all to connect with nature.

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Five whooping cranes killed in two months

Disturbing news coming from Georgia and Alabama where five whooping cranes have been found shot to death since Dec. 30. That’s a total of six killed by poachers from the nation’s eastern flock in about 15 months.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE DETAILS.

Five endangered whooping cranes have been found shot to death in less than two months in Georgia and Alabama.

My first responses were shock and disgust. There can be no even remotely legitimate reason other than cold-blooded poaching.

The birds aren’t known to be edible so it’s not like someone was shooting them to survive.

They look nothing like any game bird in that region so it can’t even be blamed on a mistaken identity.

And there’s no way in heck they were any kind of threat to someone’s life, pet, livestock or property.

And six killed amid three seperate shooting incidents?

Come on, we’ve had two shot and mortally wounded in Kansas in modern history. That was a few years ago on opening day of sandhill crane and goose season west of the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. The hunters turned poachers said they mistook them for sandhill cranes coming out of the sun.

That’s a reason but not an excuse. They fired well before legal shooting time and one of the main rules of hunting is to be sure of your target or don’t fire. The guys got caught, admitted they were in the wrong and paid some hefty penalties – which they deserved. Every goose and sandhill crane hunter I know supported the .

Still, five in less than two months? Whooping cranes migrate through Kansas in much higher numbers and pass within shotgun range of many waterfowl hunters and nothing bad happens.

I can think of twice when I’ve had whoopers pass within 25 years while hunting. Buddies have had them land in their duck and goose decoys several times through the years.  Trust me, we were as fascinated by the big birds as any birder would have been had they been in our place. Shooting at them, and they’d have been easy targets, never, ever, entered our minds.

And now so many have been killed in so little time. Wow. Hopefully the reward money being offered will help bring the poachers to justice. Federal game wardens are incredibly good at what they do, too.

But I wonder if people see the Georgia and Alabama killings as seriously as they did the two shot near Quivira? Back then I was bombarded by calls and e-mails from frustrated people for at least two weeks after the shootings. Some honestly suggested the Kansas poachers get life in prison or worse.  One woman screamed at me over the phone because I wouldn’t give her the names and addresses of the poachers.

We lose whooping cranes every year to a variety of causes. Twenty or so died along the Gulf Coast a winter or two ago because of habitat issues. Coyotes, powerlines, sickness and eagles surely account for more than six per year.

But six killed for no apparent reason at three different locations. That’s all just so very wrong.

I really don’t understand it.

Kansan fifth at The Classic, Sport Show success

The big outdoors news of the weekend was the Bassmaster Classic in the Louisiana delta. Of local interest was that Kansan Brent Chapman was in the hunt for a coveted championship heading into Sunday’s final day of fishing.

After Saturday’s weigh-in he was solidly in second-place.

Kansan Brent Chapman, of Lake Quivira, headed into the final day of the Bassmaster's Classic in second-place. He finished a prestigous fifth by taking nice limits of bass all three days.

The prize would have been $500,000, not to mention obtaining near rock star status by winning the biggest event in fishing.

Chapman gave it a good go, and did well, but ended up in fifth.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.

Another Sports Show is passed and a big “thanks” goes to all who came by The Eagle’s booth and voted for the winners in our Great Outdoors Photo Contest.

Sorry we were in a booth that nearly took GPS coordinates to find. It was due to a mix-up at The Eagle. The Sports Show people did their best to get us in a good location.

Those who made it to the booth seemed to enjoy the display. Hopefully I came out with some good ideas for articles and gained some more online followers for the electronic outdoors page, the weekly e-letter and this blog.

Man’s bust friend

Another great reason why you shouldn’t  be hiding your marijuana in your dog’s favorite toy. Bad, bad, potbull. Er, I mean pitbull.

CLICK HERE TO READ A HUMOROUS STORY ABOUT A DOG GETTING IT’S OWNER BUSTED.

Game wardens have told me several stories about poachers stashing illegally-taken ducks and their dogs sneaking back to retrieve the hidden birds as the warden is checking hunting licenses.

Montana wolves, don’t forget to vote

The debate around wolf populations in the northern Rockies took another turn when the Montana governor came out in support of culling packs that are said to be killing livestock and decimating deer, elk and moose herds.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT HIS STATEMENT.

Wolf supporters say they’re just a natural part of the mountain’s eco-system that have been gone too long.

Opponents say the region lacks the vast herds of bison that helped support wolf populations historically and that populations are now too high and ranchers, hunters and outfitters are paying the price.

Not all states that now have wolves agreed to re-introduction efforts several years ago.

Court actions have had the wolves on and off and back on the endangered species list.

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A reminder to please go to www.kansas.com/outdoors and vote in our Great Outdoors Photo Contest. We’ve narrowed the field of about 425 entries down to 15 adult and 5 youth finalists and it’s time for the public to pick the winners.

All who vote can enter to win one of 15 large outdoors print photographed by Eagle photographers.

"Whooping Cranes at Dusk" is one of 15 outdoors prints that will be awarded to those voting in the Great Outdoors Photo Contest.

Voting will continue through about 2 p.m. Saturday online and at the Kansas Sports, Boat and Travel Show.

All who entered the contest have a free ticket to the show at the show’s ticket window.

Contest winners will be announced on Sunday’s outdoors page.

More legislative happenings

Two happenings in the legislature need to be added to the list of outdoors-related bills published on Sunday’s outdoors page. Click HERE to read Sunday’s list.

A hearing will be held on the Executive Reorganization Order to pair the Kansas Tourism Department with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks at 8:30 a.m. Friday in the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

House Bill 2295 is slated to be discussed in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee at 9 a.m. on Friday.

Brought by Rep. Joe Seiwert, R-Pretty Prairie, the bill includes the following -

- Extend the special season for antlerless whitetails until Jan. 23 statewide.

-Allow a wide-variety of relatives to hunt a landowner’s property without having to purchase a hunting license and to purchase deer and turkey permits at reduced rates.

-Require all hunters to donate $2 to the Kansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry at the purchase of every deer permit.

-Allow the use of crossbows by the general population during archery deer season.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks is expected to oppose all aspects of the bill.

Another season passes

Sometimes it seems like a few weeks and other times it seems like a few years since I covered the Sept. 1 opening of dove season at a tiny patch of sunflowers in southeast Kansas.

Sunday afternoon I  brought an end to the 2010-2011 hunting seasons in a goose blind in Butler County. Let’s just say it was a pretty sunset. Friend Ed Markel shot a nice double on geese that passed his end of the blind. Those were Hank’s only fetches of the day.

No biggie.

Thursday morning two of us shot limits from the same field. The previous Sunday four of us did the same in about 90 minutes.

Mostly the fall and winter seasons were very kind. I only hunted for doves five times but the worst of the five would still be considered “good.”

Teal season was disappointing and I didn’t get to go on as many duck hunts as in past seasons for a variety of reasons. But there were some very good hunts, especially in early and mid-November.

Didn’t put my archery permit on a buck this fall though I saw plenty and passed on a lot of smaller deer. The freezer is full of does, though, that came during assorted rifle seasons.

My deer season was made when Jerrod bow-killed a trophy-class buck on our farm on Nov. 11. That’s his second in a row on that date on our place. The habitat programs seems to be working. Trail cameras show a good crop should be available next season, too.

I was also there when my step-brother, Randy, shot his first-ever deer on our place. It was a decent eight-pointer. It was the first time we’d hunted together in more than 30 years and probably the first time he’d hunted the family farm in closer to 35 years.

For a change I went out of my way to make time for some good pheasant hunts, something I’d burned myself out on many years ago. It was obvious populations were especially high in many places. I fear the current drought in western Kansas could cause them to plummet by next fall.

My best bird hunts were a solo limit in Reno County in about 50 minutes and a half-day hunt way out west when we saw an honest 500 pheasants. Both were amazing.

I’d liked to have done a bit more fall turkey hunting but Hank and I enjoyed a good afternoon on Jan. 31.

So it’s really no big deal Sunday’s goose hunt wasn’t action-packed. Maybe that even makes it easier to move on.

It’s time to put some serious thought towards fishing. And on the way home Sunday night I reached in a shirt pocket and found a turkey call I didn’t know was there.

I considered it a sign of good things to come. Archery turkey season opens on  April 1.

Bring it on.