Monthly Archives: April 2012

Hunter mistakes friend for turkey, shoots him — twice!

A Minnesotan hunting in Kansas mistook his friend for one of these and shot him - twice.

The law is pretty plain – spring turkey hunters can only shoot “a bearded bird.”

Rules of hunter safety are pretty plain – “always be sure of your target.”

Still, a Minnesota man somehow mistook his hunting partner for a turkey at the Milford Wildlife Area Friday morning and shot him – TWICE!


Terrance Spaeth told law enforcement officials he mistook Brian Hansen for a wild turkey because he was wearing camo. He shot him once, mistook his writhing buddy for a flopping turkey so he fired again.

According to investigators, he only realized he’d shot a person “because of the moaning”

Hansen was taken to a hospital and it appears he’ll recover from the shooting. Fortunately he was 45 yards from the shotgun and not 25. That certainly could have been fatal.

Law enforcement is calling it an accident but it’s not. One person purposely pointed a shotgun at something and fired, twice. An accident is when you shoot a goose and it falls on a hunting partner, or if you trip and break your arm because you’re keeping both hands on your rifle or a shotgun malfunctions and fires when the safety is pushed off…with  the muzzle pointing in a safe direction.

Mistaking a man for a bird is wrong, Shooting something when you can’t be 100-percent sure of what you’re shooting at is dangerous, stupid and carries no excuse.

And to do it twice?

It’s a wonder he didn’t field-dress his buddy to make it easier to drag him to the truck.


Commission meeting your chance go get involved.

OK, here’s your chance.  Rather than whining to your spouses, co-workers and friends about the hunting, fishing or state park situations in Kansas, take it to the people who make most of the rules.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meets Thursday – April 26- at the Great Plains Nature Center. The afternoon session is 1:30 – about 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. until completion.

For a list of items on the agenda you can CLICK HERE.

Also, time is reserved near the beginning of the afternoon and evening sessions for comments or questions on non-agenda items.

Having been to many commission meetings over about the past 30 years, and making all but three during the past 12 years, I can tell you the Kansas public does a very poor job of getting involved in the meetings – very, very poor. Some meetings, usually in some small western Kansas town, there have been no members of the general public in attendance.

But judging from the e-mails I get, comments I hear at outdoors stores and phone calls, there’s no shortage of people out there ready to share their opinion.

Tips if you want to address the commission. -

- Be sure to say your name and home town clearly when you begin to address the meeting. It is required and lets others better see and hear you as a person with a little personal information.

 - Questions are as welcome as comments. There’s no better place to get the straight-scoop since representatives from the law enforcement, wildlife, fisheries and state parks divisions are in attendance.

- Be organized so people will more easily understand your comments or concerns. Rambling doesn’t do your case any good, or make it any easier for others to comprehend what you’re saying. Jotting down a few notes often helps.

- Keep in mind that time isn’t unlimited. I think the record for one member of the public addressing the commission and guests is about 35 minutes, at a recent meeting in Salina. After about five minutes, eyes started to glaze and the guy lost more than he gained in his on-going rant that pushed the meeting well behind schedule.

-Stay respectful of the commission, department staff and other members of the public.

-Please don’t be surprised if some guy follows you to your seat to get the proper spelling of your name and a few extra questions…I’m just doing my job.

Ted Nugent guilty of wildlife violations — again.

Comments he has made against President Obama,other Democrats, and the resulting federal investigation, aren’t the only problems in Ted Nugent’s world.

The outspoken guitar-playing, gun-rights advocating, outdoors television show host ,has pleaded  guilty to charges of killing game illegally for the second time in two years.

This time Nugent recently entered a plea agreement for illegally killing a second Alaskan black bear after he’d wounded another while filming an episode of his “Sprit of the Wild” television program. In that part of Alaska  wounding an animal cancels the hunter’s permit. In most areas a big game permit is not used until an animal is recovered.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ more about the current case against Ted Nugent.

As well as paying $10,000, the article said Nugent will not be allowed to hunt in Alaska for several years. I’ll have to check if that means he won’t be allowed to hunt in Kansas as part of an agreement between more than 40 states to honor penalties leveled in one of the others.

In 2010 Nugent also plead guilty to a variety of poaching charges in California, where he illegally used bait to attract and kill a blacktail buck with spike antlers. Shooting spike bucks was illegal  in that part of California. State wildlife officials made their case from what they saw on a “Spirit of the Wild” program.


Life on a lek

THE MIDDLE OF A BIG RANCH, EDWARDS COUNTY – The day began with us getting lost in a pasture Tom Turner literally knows like the back of his hand. (Thank goodness we took GPS readings the last time I was out there.)

Our plan of taking down a flimsy blind by the lesser prairie chicken lek, and replacing it with a better photo blind, was dashed because gale-force winds would have taken the blind, and possibly us, to North Dakota as soon as we untied it from five t-posts.

So I sat in the blind that was bellowing in the wind. The chair I sat on collapsed and dumped my tender tush on a cactus.

And the only serious cloud in the sky seemed to be pasted to the sun as it rose in the east, keeping the lek shrouded in gray while surrounding ridges glowed in perfect light.

But the prairie chickens came, maybe as many as two dozen males, and danced and fought despite the jumping blind and the guy with a big camera lens within.

Of the 400 or so frames I shot, maybe 40 came when the sun finally appeared about two hours after dawn.

Ideal conditions – hardly.

Photography as good as I’d hoped – nope.

Worth the morning – you better believe it.

As they have for centuries, two male lesser prairie chickens vie for dominance on a lek Wednesday morning.

Lesser prairie chicken males fight for territory at a lek in Edwards County.

K-Stater wins national fishing championship, $100,000

So you thought you’ve had some good days on the water? Chances are none have been as good as Ryan Patterson had last weekend while fishing on South Carolina’s Lake Murray. He’s headed back to Kansas with about $100,000 in cash and prizes.

E-mails I’ve gotten say Patterson is from the Wichita area, though which town varies from e-mail to e-mail. He is a member of the K-State Fishing Club who was fishing in the College Fishing  National  Championship. Patterson earned his way to the tournament by doing well at other fishing events.

The tournament, by the way, is based on two-man teams. When Patterson’s brother/partner was ruled ineligible, he was forced to fish the event by himself.


Never too old to start hunting for turkeys

I get a lot of e-mails and photos about someone who has just shot their first turkey, on their first-ever hunt. Usually it’s a young child in the photo with the bird.

Last Friday I got such an e-mail and photo, but it was a 76-year-old grandmother hefting a nice longbeard.

Jane Hershberger waited 76 years to start hunting for turkeys, but she got off to a heck of a start with this 21-pound gobbler that carried an eight-inch beard.

That Jane Hershberger would try something new at her age isn’t a surprise to any of us who know her. She’s about as Type-A as a person can get and seems to have hit the ground running every day of her life.

Since the death of her best friend/husband, Glen, she’s taking over running their assorted rural properties in Chase and Harvey counties, and lavishing enough attention on their family for two grandparents.

A year or so ago she dropped what she was doing in Kansas and headed to Spain by herself to visit a granddaughter there for a while after college graduation.

Jane, who I have known for quite a few years, said she decided to go hunting to scratch another “someday I want to” from her bucket list. It also gave her a chance to spend some time outdoors with her visiting, son, Todd.

The gobbler was shot on one of the family properties, weighed 21 pounds and carried an eight-inch beard and 3/4-inch spurs. A two-year-old turkey for a 76 year-old turkey hunter.

I have no idea what else is on Jane’s bucket list – sky-diving, swimming with sharks, climbing a 13,000-foot mountain peak – but she’ll probably get it done.

Rock Chalk, Jane, and you go grandma, you keep on going.


Wichita Mayor takes trophy bird

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer headed to this week’s Governor’s Turkey Hunt in El Dorado hoping to scratch another item from his bucket list — shooting a nice tom turkey.

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, center, with the trophy-sized tom turkey he shot Friday morning at the Governor's Turkey Hunt. Former Gov. Mike Hayden, left, called the bird into range on land scouted by Ramon Criss, right.

Early Friday morning he did that, taking a great Butler County gobbler called in by Mike Hayden, on land scouted by Ramon Criss. Brewer’s turkey had a beard of more  than 11 inches.

At the end of the first day of hunting his bird was the second largest shot at the hunt. Gov. Sam Brownback has yet to shoot a bird and hopes to hunt an hour or so Saturday morning before heading to another engagement.

Friday he declined several opportunities on young toms, called jakes, called in by Will Johnson while hunting with Brad Young.

About half of the 70-plus hunters shot birds.

The hunt ends at 5 p.m. on Saturday.


Dawn in the turkey woods

I was on the road  by about 4 a.m.

Before 6 a.m. I was in the Greenwood County woods, sitting with my back against an oak, turkey calls spread on the leaves before me. A pair of decoys to my front.

Being in the woods at daylight is an important part of turkey hunting, though not always the best time to shoot a turkey.

Shooting hours didn’t start for at least another 30 minutes.

For years I’ve said I’m going to forgo such very early rising through a turkey season. Looking back, I’ve shot far more turkeys after 10 a.m. than before. Both of last year’s birds were after 2 p.m.

One year when I traveled a lot, hunting a variety of states, I was in on 25 turkey kills. I think about five were shortly after the birds flew down from their roosts. One season our Missouri camp accounted for 32 toms. I think 30 were after 10 a.m.

But there’s something special about being in the spring woods well before daylight, listening to assorted creatures awaken. At every owl hoot or coyote howl you hold your breath, wondering if it will spark the first gobbles of the morning.

And man, are there ever gobbles. Most days you’ll hear more gobbles in the first-half hour of the day than you will the following 10 hours.

So it was this morning, the opening of general spring turkey season. As predicted my set-up was between two flocks of roosting turkeys. They gobbled at each other, my calls, calling crows and sometimes just for the heck of it.

As well as those sounds, I had nearby wrens, some sort of warbler and passing deer to keep me occupied.

The gobbles eventually slowed and I moved three or four times towards a flock in a meadow to the west. I shot a tom from that bunch at a tad past 10 a.m. – another mid-day bird.

Before I left the meadow, I picked the tree where I’ll set-up well before dawn next week.

There’s a lot more to spring turkey hunting than just shooting turkeys.

A family to admire


Christine and Bob Arndt, top row, with one of the young hunters that got a bird on Saturday's Beau Arndt Foundation youth turkey hunt.

I meet a lot of great people on my travels across Kansas. Few do I respect and admire more than Bob and Christine Ardnt, of Americus. In Dec. 2007 their 18-year-old son, Beau, had just finished his first semester of college and was being taken on a goose hunt as an early birthday present.

As he hid amid the decoys a truck on the road stopped, poked a high-powered rifle barrel out the window and shot at what Thomas Kent thought were real geese. Beau was killed and Kent eventually served about two years in prison.

Through the entire investigation and court proceedings, Bob and Christine took the high road. Their oldest child had been killed in a senseless act by someone who had to know they were breaking the law and the Arndts, remained steadfast.

I’m going to tell you right now, I don’t have the character to hold-up so well. I, like most of the people I’ve talked with, would have been bitter the rest of my life and probably never recovered from such a tragic, senseless loss.

Lately they’ve had to go through some of it all over again with the news that David Kent, Thomas’ brother, is charged with poaching a world-class whitetail buck in Osage County. Charges say he broke about every law imaginable when it comes to deer hunting. David Kent, by the way, was in the truck and watched Thomas Kent shoot the bullet that ended Beau Arndt’s life.

Yet the Arndt’s are continually striving to make positives from such a profoundly negative experience. Their Beau Arndt Foundation is working towards getting hundreds of area kids exposed to the outdoors.


I pray I never have to live through an ordeal like they have weathered. If so, I pray I could do it even with half as much composure.

Bob Arndt watches a young hunter proudly carry in a turkey, much like he used to watch his son, Beau, return from successful hunts.

To heck with walleye, I want to catch some elvers!

Seriously, you can have your great-tasting crappie and walleye. To heck with those acrobatic rainbow trout and powerful stripers. I’d even trade a trip to Panama for marlin and tuna for a decent shot at catching some match-sized little fish in Maine!

They’re called elvers, which means they are basically fingerling eels. They’re kinda of ugly, swiggly and worth about $2,000 per pound. YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT THEM ON THE OUTDOOR HUB.

Apparently a shortage of eels around the globe, which I guess some people consider fine dining, has sent the price of elvers through the roof. Last year they were “only” selling for around $900 per pound. (Wow, who’d have thought about adding 50 pounds of elvers to their 401K last year  Wish I would have.)

Only about 400 commercial fishermen are given permits to harvest elvers in Maine this year, but surely these prices will have poachers and assorted fortune seekers out in full strength. (“Whata ya in for buddy…you were selling WHAT on the black market?”)

The article and video clip doesn’t really say how the elvers are caught, though nets are shown, or how many ounces or pounds per week a hard-working commercial angler might catch.

The report says one pound of Maine elvers will grow into about $30,000 worth of edible adult eels in Asia. That kind of makes you wonder why some of these elvers are not being grown in American aquaculture ponds, too. I guess it’s mainly because there is no ready market for eel fillets in the U.S.

When it comes to on the table, I’m not alone in preferring crappie, walleye or a big tuna steak.