Monthly Archives: February 2012

Charges filed in poaching of potential state-record deer

Charges have been field against a Topeka man for poaching a deer that could have broken a state record that’s stood for more than 35 years, according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

David Kent was charged in Osage County Court with about eight crimes in the Nov. 11 shooting of a large, 14-point whitetail buck, KDWPT information officer Mike Miller said. Charges include hunting with an artificial light, hunting during a closed season, illegal hunting from a vehicle and the use of an illegal caliber for deer hunting.

The buck has been unofficially scored at 198 7/8 inches of antler on the Boone & Crockett system. The deer was measured by an official scorer, but hadn’t met the requirement for a waiting period of at least 60 days after the time of the kill to make the score official.

The state record for a typical whitetail deer shot with a gun is 198 2/8 and was shot in Nemaha County by Dennis Finger in 1974.

Charges against Kent were filed Feb. 1 and Kent was served on Monday. What makes the case more interesting is that Kent contributed to his own arrest in several ways.

He brought the antlers to public attention at the well-attended Monster Buck Classic last month in Topeka, where he said he had killed the deer in northeast Kansas. Photography surfaced at the show placing the buck alive, in Osage County, earlier in the fall. Wildlife agents compared the photo to the antlers and determined it was the same deer.

Kent was taken into custody and the antlers confiscated shortly after he was recognized as having brought the largest typical antlers to the event. He confessed to the crime, a law-enforcement source said.

This is the third Kansas buck with antlers that could qualify to be a state record that isn’t officially recognized. A typical buck that scored 199 7/8 was shot by a rifle hunter in 1999. It was confiscated when it was learned the non-resident hunter used a relative’s resident permit to tag the animal. Also, a typical mule deer scoring about 207 typical points is on display at Cabela’s in Kansas City, Kan. It’s about five inches larger than the state record, but Wildlife and Parks won’t certify it as the state record because there’s no record of the person listed as the hunter having a permit for the listed year. Miller said they are not making any accusations of wrong-doing with the deer.

More disease in Kansas, Missouri deer

Chronic wasting disease continues a slow but steady advance across the midwest. Three cases have been found from deer killed during the 2011-12 Kansas deer seasons, with about 35-percent of about 2,400 samples tested.

Missouri found it first two cases of CWD in wild deer during their seasons. Both bucks were in the northwestern part of the state, not far from Heartland Wildlife Ranch, where the disease was found in a captive deer in 2010.

A release from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism said recent positives were found in whitetail bucks from Decatur, Rawlins and Wallace counties. All are in northwest Kansas. It’s the first confirmed case from Wallace County.

Kansas has been testing for the disease for about 15 years. The first positive in a wild deer was in 2005 in Cheyenne County. Since, 43 cases have been found through testing. The disease appears to be gradually spreading to the south and east.

CWD was first diagnosed in deer along the Wyoming/Colorado border more than 40 years ago. It’s spread as far east as New York within about the last decade. The transport of diseased captive deer and remains of infected wild deer taken to other states for disposal are possible ways CWD has been spread.

The disease has been found in most members of the American deer family, including whitetail and mule deer, elk and moose. It has never been documented in livestock or humans, though it closely resembles Mad Cow disease.

More good and bad about mountain lions in the news

Several stories about mountain lions are again in the news, and again there’s a Kansas twist.

CLICK HERE TO READ AN AUDUBON OF KANSAS RELEASE  asking for better public understanding and compassion for a building mountain lion population in northern Nebraska. The big cats have steadily increased in that area the last few years, though it’s still a low population, as the reproducing population in the nearby Black Hills continues to send young animals wandering to possibly as far east as Connecticut.

CLICK HERE TO READ A STORY PUBLISHED ON THE SAME DAY  I got the release from Audubon of Kansas, comes news of a mountain lion attacking a six-year-old boy in Big Bend National Park in Texas. The boy is recovering fine after his father used a pocket knife to fight-off the attacking cat. Texas authorities are still looking for the guilty mountain lion.

Attacks by mountain lions on humans are increasing nationwide but are considered to be very rare, even in areas with high mountain lion populations.

Audubon of Kansas has been involved in issues pertaining to mountain lions for several years, including a 2007 release stating they had the first “proof” of the big cats in the state in modern times.

CLICK HERE TO READ a release that was widely panned by biologists for an inconclusive photo and tracks that aren’t those of a mountain lion.

The first wild  mountain lion documented in Kansas in more than 100 years was shot near Medicine Lodge that same year. Since, a total of about six mountain lions have been confirmed in the state via photographs and a GPS tracking collar on a cat from Colorado.

 

 

Mud-athon goose hunting

Last Friday’s weather system dropped up to three-inches of rain in parts of central Kansas. That’s great news to pond owners who watched their impoundments drop or go totally dry last summer. The moisture was a huge blessing for wheat farmers who haven’t  had much moisture for their crops for more than a month.

But it sure complicated things for hunters wanting to be out the next to last weekend of goose season.

Coby Stewart with his limit of geese from hunting amid Saturday's mud and muck in Butler County.

Before daylight Saturday morning Coby Stewart, Bill Mills and I slipped, slided and slogged our way to a Butler County pit blind in a field of very well-watered wheat. A draw behind the blind was filled with knee-deep water so I packed in a dozen floating decoys.

Amid the drizzle, clouds and wind, the geese coming from local lakes decoyed  very well. Stewart and Mills each got a bird from a trio that came to the water spread. They each took a bird from a pair that passed over the field spread. No big bunches worked the decoys but a pair of geese headed for the water filled our collective limit of nine birds well before  nine-o’clock.

It seemed like every inch of the hunters and hunting equipment was mud-encrusted when we finally made it to our trucks. I tossed a stick into the flooded draw so Hank swam enough to get relatively clean before letting him into Ol’ Red.

It was just Mills joining me Sunday morning and the field was down to just being muddy compared to the slop-fest of Saturday. Lots of sun, little wind, and wary birds offered few shot opportunities.  We were toting three big geese when we trudged towards our truck.

Bill Mills watches for geese Sunday morning, a slower day than hunting in Saturday's drizzle and wind.

Muscles hurt far more from any other hunt because of the pounds of muck on my boots. It’ll be a while before I get all the dried mud off a few dozen decoys and the rest of my goose hunting gear.

They’ll be plenty of time for that after the season ends next Sunday.

 

And I never curse moisture in Kansas, especially after last year’s crippling drought.

Happiness is finally fetching a coot

Birders have life-lists they value. It’s their collection of every feathered species they’ve seen, no matter how fleeting or how few times, in their birding lives.

I figure a dog should have the same rights. So ever since Hank began hunting at a tad under five-months-old, I’ve kept a mental list of the species he’s fetched. The number was more than 15 species by the time he was a year-old, thanks to some serious waterfowl hunting.

After 10 years of waiting, Hank finally got to fetch a coot last Sunday. Scaled quail and woodcock are about the only Kansas gamebirds he needs for his life-list.

Just this past season he added two more. We got a ruddy duck in November. Sunday he made a biggie – a coot.

The birds have always fascinated the dog. I think it has to do with their slow, water-spraying, wing-flapping take-off so resembling a wounded duck that needs to be retrieved.

(Yes, there’s a season on coots. Yes, they are very edible and the limit is a generous 15 per day.)

I’d always intended  to do some coot hunting with Hank but we always seemed to get distracted by things like mallards, or teal or geese.

Sunday friend Andy Fanter flushed one from some flooded weeds and made the shot. Recognizing the bird for what it was, Hank’s ears perked and his attention was fixed on the floating bird. When I said his name he was off in a hurry. (Well, a hurry for Hank…he’s one of the most mellow Labs ever,… until it’s time to get to work.)

So with coot officially added to his life-list there’s no much more in Kansas that we can add. All I can think of are scaled quail and woodcock, and I doubt they’ll ever come.

No biggie, I’m sure in Hank’s mind he got the most important one last weekend.