Monthly Archives: July 2012

Three more sentenced in major poaching case

Monday three more out-of-state men pleaded guilty and were sentenced for their parts in what some wildlife officials have called the biggest trophy deer poaching case in history.

In U.S. District Court, Bert Stelly, Amaudville, La, Ryan Pinkston, Center Tex., and Tim Metcalf, Lafayette, La., plead guilty to violating the Lacey Act, according to a U.S. District Court news release.

The Lacey Act prohibits transporting illegally taken animals across state borders and is a federal crime.

This brings to 25 the number of people charged with a variety of hunting-related violations while hunting out of Camp Lone Star, in Comanche County.

As had other defendants, all three men on Monday were given fines and will not be allowed to hunt, trap or guide for several years.

Stelly must pay $14,000 in fines and restitution and may not hunt for two years. Pinkston is to pay $8,000 and forgo hunting for two years. Metcalf is to pay $3,500 and may not hunt for one year.

Last year Camp Lone Star owner, James Butler was sentenced to pay $50,000 and 41 months in federal prison. His brother, Marlin Butler, was sentenced to pay $20,00 and 2 ¼ years in prison.

Their sentences are currently under appeal.

We’re not the only ones losing bait priviledges

This year we lost our ability to catch and transport Kansas baitfish to other waters. (The regulation is again under review, and may be changed to allow the transportation of bluegill and green sunfish…maybe.)

This fall Missouri anglers may not be able to buy and haul crawdads to their favorite stream, pond or lake. The Missouri Department of Conservation wants to implement the restriction to keep invasive crawdad species from being spread across the state.

You can click hear to read a detailed article on the topic.

I sure hope one of the game departments doesn’t discover some kind of invasive beadhead woolly bugger….I’d sure hate for them to outlaw my favorite fishing fly!!!!

The weather’s hot, the lake’s low, the fishing?


It’s so hot the lake water feels like a nice bath.

Trollers try to beat the heat, and catch some fish, early Monday morning at Cheney Reservoir.

The lake’s so low the most popular courtesy dock for getting into boats is sitting in the mud.

So it was when Mark Fowler and I hit Cheney Reservoir Monday morning. How’d we do?

– It only took us about 10 minutes to catch the first fish of the day.

– Mark was disappointed in the number of fish caught, but it was his best day of  the year for another factor.

– I caught my ugliest fish of the year, and was danged glad to have it.

– We were both disappointed we didn’t catch a single keeping-sized wiper.

– A walleye somehow pulled a magic act and turned itself into a small wiper at the boat.

– I got enough material for a feature story on next Sunday’s Outdoors page,

- and……

...things turned out pretty well, overall.

Like shooting fish in a nearly dry river

From the left, Dave Olds, Kelly Seal, Austin Freed and Gary Savage begin walking the Arkansas River, looking for deep holes that may contain fish.

Trust me, kayaking the Arkansas River just south of Wichita is no cakefloat. I hear fishing’s not much better

Both are because of this @#$@#$ drought that’s been choking us dry for two years.

Well, there are some people who are making the best of an arid situation.

One afternoon last week Kelly Seals, Austin Freed, Dave Olds and Gary Savage walked through 100-plus degree heat and out onto a river that was mostly ankle-deep. Seals said this year has been one of their best-ever for bowfishing. Gar, carp and other rough fish are concentrated in what few holes they can find on the Arkansas. In some places it’s kind of like shooting fish in a sandy-bottomed barrel.

The first place with consistent action was probably half-mile from where they entered the river, along an outside bend of the Arkansas where the current had scoured a hole probably four or five feet deep.  It was holding a lot of nice gar, carp and some bottom-feeders I’m not really sure of the exact species. At first the fish were high in the water and calm. After a few shots they were either deep and out of sight or racing out into the shallows, away from the shooters.

Eventually, shots were few and far between.

That sent the foursome patrolling for other holes holding fish. Several times Seal walked to where he’d found them before only to find the water shallower than expected, and empty of fish. Finally Savage made a long aqua-hike and  found a mid-river spot that had a run of two to three-feet of water…and it was holding a lot of fish.

Bowfishermen work a school of carp and other rough fish in a rare pool on the Arkansas River.

The bowfishing buddies spread out, taking shots as fish passed, giving each other hard times and congratulations. The action lasted about a half-hour. By then the sun was too low in the west for good fish-viewing and the next possible hole deep enough to be holding fish wasn’t even in sight downriver.

Austin Freed pulls a carp ashore.

“This will be the last time until we get some more water,” Seal said of the low-water and lack of fish.

Scratch one more type of outdoorsman from enjoying the Arkansas River near Wichita this horrid, hot summer.

A longnose gar swims in the shallows.

Chronic wasting disease found in Sumner County deer

Chronic wasting disease has been detected  in a Sumner County deer, according to state wildlife officials .

Shane Hesting, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, wildlife disease coordinator, said the deer was a yearling whitetail doe that was killed by a hunter last deer season. It’s the first time the disease has been recorded in south-central Kansas.

CWD is a fatal disease that can effect all members of the deer family, including elk, moose, whitetail and mule deer. EVen though it’s closely related to Mad Cow Disease, there’s no proof it can jump to other kinds of animals or humans, said Lloyd Fox, Wildlife and Parks big game program coordinator.

Nine deer tested positive for the disease out of  more than 2,400 Kansas samples sent for testing last year. Results have just returned from state and federal labrotories. Six were in northwest Kansas. First-ever cases were reported in Ford, Stafford and Sumner counties.

CWD was first diagnosed along the Wyoming/Colorado border in the 1960s,  but it’s become more widespread within the past 15 years. Currently it’s found in 1at least 19 states and 2 Canadian provinces.

Kansas’ first case was in a captive elk in Harper County in 2001. The first wild deer confirmed was in Cheyenne County, in extreme northwest Kansas, in 2005.  A total of 49 deer have tested positive for the disease since testing began in 1996. Hesting said about 23,500 deer have been tested through those years. Most samples were gathered from deer shot by hunters, though Wildlife and Parks staff have also taken samples from road-kills and sick deer that had to be destroyed.

Fox said Sumner County has accounted for hundreds of samples through the years.

Until recently the disease had shown a steady spread from the first positive in Cheyenne County, moving a county or two to the east and south every year. Deer normally contract it from contact with infected deer.

The biologists aren’t sure why the disease showed up in three areas at least 100 miles from previously confirmed cases last year. Fox said research done on northwest Kansas deer several decades ago showed that they’re very mobile, often moving 50 or more miles. It’s also possible an area hunter shot a deer in northwest Kansas, then brought the carcass home and disposed of the offal locally.

CWD is primarily  held within a deer’s brain, lymph glands and spinal area. Hunters are advised to avoid contact with those areas  when field-dressing or processing deer.

Hunters are advised not to eat deer they know have tested positive for CWD, but admit only a small portion of the population gets sampled annually. “We know we’ve had people eat deer with CWD,” Fox said.

He also said six  years of the disease hasn’t deterred people from hunting or eating venison in northwest Kansas. “The hunters tend to get kind of blase about it once it’s been there for so long,” he said. “People make their own decisions, but know CWD hasn’t been found in humans.”

Fox said hunters can have a veterinarian or Wildlife and Parks biologist take samples from deer they shoot, then ship them to K-State for testing. The school charges about $23 for testing. Shipping and veterinarian charges would be extra.

The public is asked to report all sick-acting animals, especially deer, to Wildlife and Parks, at 620-342-0658. CWD symptoms include deer being non-responsive, unable to stand and can’t run or walk. Fox cautioned that other diseases carry similar symptoms.

Summer’s here, and the chummin’s hot

Kyle Redger waits for a catfish to bite at Marion Reservoir...he didn't have to wait very long.

Afternoon temperatures are in the 100s.

It hasn’t rained in so long your dog is burying bones under the paved sidewalk because it’s easier than digging in your lawn.

And catfishermen are having the times of their lives catching dozens of fat channel cats.

On a recent morning friend Kyle Redger and I joined my friend, Warren Kreutziger for a few early morning hours at Marion Reservoir. Warren was fishing that section of the Cottonwood River before the dam was built.  For more than a decade Warren and his wife, Donna, ran nearby Canada Bait and Tackle. He still does a little guiding.

Warren had sent word the fishing had been great on areas he’d chummed with rotten soybeans. A GPS  let him drop chum on the same exact spots time after time. He and anglers had been taking limits of ten channel catfish each about every time on the lake…and often pretty quickly, too.

So, how’d it work when I showed up? (I’ve been called the “Fishin’ Magician” for my ability to make a total hot bite disappear.)

Warren Kreutziger has the net ready, as Kyle Redger brings another Marion channel catfish to the surface.

It went very, very well.

It was Kyle’s first trip fishing mid-lake, relying on electronics to stay on fish, and it ended up being his best-ever trip for catfish.

We fished some of Warren’s homemade stink baits straight below the boat and the fish seemed to plentiful.

The average size was probably around four pounds. Kyle had one  closer to seven pounds. All of the fish were super-fat – probably full from weeks of soybeans – and incredibly shiny.

After about 2 1/2 hours of fishing we stopped at our self-imposed maximum of 20 fish, though catfish were still biting well. They produced about three gallons of fillets.

…and we were off the water before the temperature even hit 85 degrees.

Some of the 20 channel cats caught in about 2 1/2 hours.

Sometimes “your” just wrong….

I’m guessing somebody had some e’splaining to do when a number of these signs were noticed at Kaw Point Park, in Kansas City, Kansas.


Obviously “Smile, you’re on camera” was their intent.


It’s not an uncommon error, and in my case not an uncommon typo.


But that’s why we proof our stuff a few times, and why editors get a look at all of our copy before it goes to print.


(BTW, when I looked back over the above text I found where I’d originally typed  “was there intent.” See, it happens.)

This is the only edited sign that I saw at the park.

It is humorous, though, that the camera we’re supposed to be smiling for is pointing straight into the air.





A good hunting buddy lost

My friend John Dick died today. I wish you’d have had a chance to meet him. If not him, I at least hope you meet somebody like him someday. You won’t forget them.


John Dick and his favorite things - his family, represented by grandson, Harrison, right, his Lab, Molly and a good batch of ducks.

He wasn’t the very best goose hunter or the best deer hunter, but everything he did outdoors, he did danged well.

When he blew a duck call it sounded like there was a hen mallard beside you. If he said a distant flock had five pintails and three wigeon, it did.

If he handed you his knife it would be clean and scalpel-sharp.

But John was an even better hunting buddy than a hunter. When he asked how you were doing he really wanted to know, and he’d asked about your kids and wife by names, and wanted full details on how your dog was hunting.

He never hogged a conversation, but what he said was worth hearing…and often funny.

If  you shot at the same bird and it fell, he’d be quick to congratulate you, swear you hit it when chances were he downed the bird.

When he bought and furnished a small house near our duck spots it was instantly open to all of his friends, and he expected you to hit the ‘fridge and bring your dog inside “John’s Quack Shack.”

We were at his Quack Shack a few winters ago and whipping up a monster bunch of gumbo for the crew. John was petting his beloved Lab, Molly, while talking about family and friends. I noticed he repeated himself  and couldn’t remember things he had known well.

John knew something was wrong, probably seriously wrong. A brain tumor was diagnosed within a few days.

Rather than self-pity, John wasted no time getting his affairs in order and spending quality time with his family. He called me out of the blue, just to say how much he appreciated our friendship. It was a classy thing to do.

Brain surgery is never easy, and sometimes the surgery ends up being threatening, too. So it was for John, unfortunately.

As time went on, John became more and more the illness and less and less of the true John. I’m sure it was hell on his family, though they stuck by him admirably, and it was certainly hell on John, too.

But this afternoon he again became the old John, which is how he’ll be remembered.

He’s in a place where the mornings are cold but not brutal, the wind’s steady at about 15 mph out of the north and every day is opening day. If he gets his just rewards every passing flock will turn to his calls and his beloved pintails will be as thick as bees around a shaken hive.

I’m not sure who he’ll be hunting with in Heaven, but they’ve just gained a heck of a hunting buddy.

I hope I live a good enough life to hunt with John Dick again, someday.



And yet another great use for zucchini/squash

OK, so we’ve eaten enough grilled squash planks to build a battleship.

After making 24 loaves, I’m about baked-out when it comes to zucchini bread.

So,  it was a really big deal when a relative told us about yet another way for our garden’s most prosperous veggies to be prepared. That it’s ultra-healthy doesn’t hurt, either.

All you basically do is get a sizable squash, with the skin still on, a cheap potato peeler, and go crazy.

Well, it helps if you can make the strips as long as possible. Keep rotating the zuke or summer squash until you’re about down to the seeds.

I steamed our long strips in a strainer over boiling water. I’ve heard stir-frying works, too. I added garlic, and thinly sliced red pepper and onion to the strips for added flavor. It only takes a few minutes, like three to five, before the strips are done.

Voila!…you have a very tasty, and healthy, substitute for pasta.

We served ours with a spaghetti sauce that I’d started with a quality version in a jar and dressed up with fresh garden tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, peppers and browned venison burger. I basically just squeeze the ‘maters into the sauce to get as much juice as possible.

That’s it. We thought we’d try it once and it will probably be a staple for us every summer from here on.

But we’ll still be doing the grilled squash planks, zucchini bread, squash stir-fry, sauteed zucchini, ….

Duck Counts, the good news and the bad news

Spring breeding populations of mallards are estimated to be more than 10.6 million birds.

Word from our duck production areas of the northern plains and Canada is good,…and not so good.

Basically the number of ducks that arrived at spring breeding grounds were at or near all-time highs since counts began more than 50 years ago.

Unfortunately, the number of ponds those ducks found for raising ducklings was down about 32 percent.

What does that mean for fall hunting seasons?

It’s too early to tell, but the abundance of adult birds should provide at least some production, but the migrations may be heavily populated with veteran ducks. That makes for tougher hunting.

Here’s a look at how some of the most popular species arrived at their spring breeding grounds. The figures are compared to the 2011 breeding populations.

Mallards          +15%

Gadwall            +10%

Wigeon                +3%

Greenwings       +20%

Bluewings           +3%

Pintail                   -22%

Canvasback         +10%