Monthly Archives: January 2012

Good things in threes….

My Grandma Frances, all 4′ 6″ of her, used to say good things come in threes. They certainly did for me on three outings over the past two days.

Sunday morning's goose hunt brought a limit of three from a nice flock that decoyed perfectly. File Photo

Sunday morning Hank and I headed to a friend’s pond east of Newton. I got their late but by 8 a.m. I had a dozen goose decoys floating, another dozen bobbing on stakes and a lay-out blind grassed-in a few yards away.

A little more than an hour later a flock of about a dozen nice Canadas passing overhead banked to my calls and flagging, circled once and sailed low over the water about 20 yards away. About nine flew off. Funny, the last time I hunted the pond I shot a limit of three big geese from one flock,too.

After a little football and a little nap I headed to a buddy’s lease near Quivira for the last three hours of the 2011-2012 deer seasons for that unit. With only a few minutes to spare I put an anterless tag on my third deer of the seasons.

Monday's crappie fishing produced fish to 14".

Monday morning I had to “work” at Marion Reservoir with a friend who’d been catching crappie for several weeks. No, I didn’t just catch three but I came home with enough fillets for Kathy and me, and two friends at work to enjoy what should be great fresh fish dinners.

You can probably read more about the fishing trip on Sunday’s outdoors page.


Kansas seniors could pay for hunting, fishing licenses


SALINA – Kansas senior citizens could be required to purchase hunting and fishing licenses after this year.

For decades residents 65 and over have been exempt from the annual permits that currently sell for about $18, each.

At a Thursday meeting of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission, Chris Tymeson, the department’s attorney, said the agency will soon ask the legislature to remove the exemption.

Tymeson said the request is being made to insure continued funding for the agency as the average age of sportsmen continues to increase.

Those currently exempt would not be grandfathered in and would be required to pay no matter their age. Exemptions and reduced rates for landowners would continue.

As well as increased direct funding, the additional number of hunting and fishing licenses sold would qualify the department for more federal funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Currently federal excise taxes are charged at the sale of most hunting, shooting and fishing equipment. Those funds are distributed to states based on their number of hunting and fishing licenses.

The federal funds are often given on a matching basis of about 3 to 1. They currently pay for most of Kansas’ 1 million-plus acre Walk-In Hunting area program.

Tymeson had no figures about the number of hunters and anglers currently exempt from state licenses.

Mike Miller, Wildlife and Parks information chief, said the number is tough to track but added that since 2006 the number of Kansans 65 years old and older purchasing deer permits has increased 25 percent.

The department will also request Kansans 65 and older no longer get reduced rates or exemptions for state park fees, too.

Tymeson said the agency will seek legislative permission to create an annual vehicle “Kansas Park Passport” to be sold to residents when they annually renew their vehicle permits.

The passes would be optional and valid until the vehicle’s permit is renewed the following year.

In the past, Robin Jennison, department secretary, said if 10-percent of Kansans purchased the passes it could double park income.

With ideal legislative support, Tymeson said the agency would like to see the state park changes begin as early as July 1. The removal of exemptions for hunting and fishing licenses would begin in 2013.

He admitted things could change.

“What you start with and what you end with are often two different things,” Tymeson said.




A snowy storm

The temperatures are near 60 degrees and there is snow all over the place.

Well, make that snowy owls all over the place.

Wichita photographer Bob Gress was lucky enough to get close to the famed snowy owl east of Newton. PHOTO BY BOB GRESS

Just since Sunday a snowy owl has been found injured in Lawrence and another dead in Kansas City. A live bird was seen near Cabela’s in the same town, several were seen near Kirwin Reservoir and another flushed by pheasant hunters in Hodgeman County…and those are the birds I know about.

We saw one sitting atop a duck blind in Reno County Saturday morning. The funny thing is I wasn’t even surprised to see one!

Without question, though, the most popular of the 30 or so snowy owls currently spending their winter vacation in Kansas is the bird east of Newton, along the Harvey/Butler County line.

As well as pretty, the owl has to be one of the most patient birds in the world because of all its’ visitors. People have come from as far as Topeka to see the bird and some local birders check on it several times a week.

Keep your eyes open the next time you’re heading across the Kansas countryside. These big, easily recognized birds are common enough this winter you have a decent chance of seeing one.

There have been at least 30 snowy owls reported in Kansas this fall and winter. The Arctic-nesting birds normally winter above the Canadian border. PHOTO BY BOB GRESS


A duck season of garter snakes, mallard drakes and Landen Snyder

Looking back after the close of the first segment of duck season I’d have to say so far, so great. We had a lot of action, enjoyed some wonderful duck dinners, made some great hunting memories and I enjoyed some new hunting buddies.

My favorite was Landen Snyder. He’s the nine-year-old grandson of  very good hunting buddy Bob Snyder. I got to hunt with the boy from Bonner Springs the first and last weekends of the duck season. Both were great.

Young Landen Snyder started the duck season catching a garter snake that was coiled in the bottom of a duck blind.

Landen and I started the season in the bottom of a pit blind, catching a garter snake he proudly named after his grandfather. He eventually changed the name for some reason.

We had the snake in his pocket, in empty shotgun shell boxes and watched the speed of its flicking tongue tell us if the snake was cold or warm. He proudly kept the snake through the weekend, transporting it home within  a custom-made box from his grandmother, Judy.

Saturday morning there were no snakes, and not a lot of ducks, but one mallard drake that hovered over the decoys like a helicopter made my weekend.

When all was right, Russ Snyder let Landen take a few shots at ducks over the past week. With his own gun aside, Russ helped Landen get safely lined up on Saturday’s drake that slowly buzzed above the spread 15 yards away.

Amid his dad’s “Shoot him, Landen, shoot him. Landen, shoot him…” at auctioneers speed the boy dropped the gorgeous drake. It was a very good shot for any kid. It was a major deal for this one.

Three generations enjoy a mallard drake. From left, Russ Snyder, Landen Snyder (the shooter) and Bob Snyder.

While Snyder is his last name duck hunting is the boy’s heritage.

Grandpa Bob was literally raised amid the Quivira marshes where his family once managed private duck clubs.That he started cleaning ducks, caring for decoys and rowing boats by Landen’s age hasn’t dimmed his interest. Bob Snyder still hunts nearly every day of the season.

Russ Snyder spent many of his earliest fall and winter days sleeping in the bottom of a blind . He was learning to rig decoys about the age he was learning to read. At the end of Saturday’s hunt Landen wrapped cords and stowed some decoys perfectly in a special bag.

But my favorite part about Landen is he’s so happy to be outdoors. Unlike most his age he prefers playing outdoors to indoors and doesn’t need toys to be entertained.

Where we park to go hunting three or four big hay bales are forts or castles beckoning to be scaled by Landen. At one point he said he’d rather have such bales in his yard than his new XBox.

That’s my kind of kid.