Author Archives: Michael Pearce

Attwater prairie chicken propagation program success does not bode well for lesser prairie chickens

Friday’s Wichita Eagle article on wildlife biologists disagreeing with Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to raise and release lesser prairie chickens gave passing mention to a program that releases pen-raised Attwater’s prairie chickens  on the remnant prairies along the Texas gulf.



A current plan to raise and release lesser prairie chickens, like these, is drawing criticism, even from Texas biologists releasing Attwater prairie chickens.

A current plan to raise and release lesser prairie chickens, like these, is drawing criticism, even from Texas biologists releasing Attwater prairie chickens.

— Below you’ll find more information gathered from two Texas biologists working with Attwater prairie chickens, one of the most critically endangered species in America.

— A propagation program in Texas for endangered Attwater prairie chickens, a close relative to lesser prairie chickens, costs about $1,000 per released bird, according to Terry Rossignol, Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge manager.

— Mike Morrow, a Texas biologist working with endangered Attwater prairie chickens, said the federal program of raising and releasing the birds is “a last resort” because of high mortality rates and costs.

— In 1900 it was estimated 1 million Attwaters lived across a wide swath of Texas and into Louisiana. By 1937 the population was in the tens of thousands because of loss of habitat. The low was in 2005 when only 40 birds survived, mostly on the Atwatter Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge.

— Since the mid-1990s, 200 to 400 captive-reared Attwaters have been released annually on about 70,000 acres of Texas coastal plain. Mike Morrow, a biologist at the refuge,  said the entire population was at about 100 birds prior to this spring’s releases.
– He also said Kansas lessers probably wouldn’t be as expensive to raise, but added, “ … it’s not going to be cheap.”

 – Morrow said the Fish and Wildlife Service started the Attwater propagation program with captive hens in 1992, when the wild population was about 500 birds, but dropping rapidly. Loss of habitat was a major reason, but they also learned that red imported fire ants, an invasive species, had been outcompeting chicks for the insects needed for food and, in some cases, had been killing the chicks.

—Morrow said the Texas release program has been making improvements over the past several years, and that about 16 percent of young Attwater prairie chickens released live at least one year. Adult birds have an annual mortality rate of about 50 percent.

— Treating areas to kill fire ants seems to be helping survival rates of the Attwaters that are released from six to 12 weeks of age. Some hens have raised broods the year after they were released.

— Still, he would prefer other options.

— “The only reason we’re doing it is because we had no choice. We weren’t raising enough chicks in the wild to sustain the population,” Morrow said. “Ultimately such things are almost always a habitat issue.”

— “Maybe if you get a bump in the population it will make the captive breeding program go away,” said Morrow.

Lesser prairie chicken numbers increase about 20 percent

lesserprairiechickenblog _mp02An aerial survey conducted this spring found that America’s lesser prairie chicken population had increased about 20 percent since the same study area was flown in 2013.

A Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism press release said biologists were estimating  the population at 22,415 birds this year, compared to 18,747 last spring. The 2012 estimate was more than 30,000 birds. Several years of drought has greatly hurt lesser prairie chicken numbers by denying the grouse good nesting areas, safe places to raise chicks and cover from predators through the seasons.

Done during the early spring breeding season, the study only logs adult birds since the year’s chicks have yet to be hatched.

The press release credited good reproduction last year in the mixed grass prairie region of south-central  Kansas and some places in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles. Reproduction was down again in the sand-sage prairies of southwestern Kansas and bordering regions in other states because of the drought.

Though it is too early to get a feel for this year’s reproduction, weather systems have dropped some impressive rains across most of the lesser prairie chicken’s range, including part of western Kansas. Some nice broods have been reported earlier in the west-central Kansas region that includes Gove and Logan counties, where some of the state’s best lesser prairie chicken populations thrived before the drought began about three years ago.

lesserprairiechickenblog _mp01This spring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed lesser prairie chickens on their threatened species list. Since, a number of lawsuits have been filed by groups on both sides of the issue. Many agriculture and energy groups want the bird removed from all listing, stating populations only need rains to recover. They also complain the new federal regulations could greatly cripple the ways they do business and greatly hurt the rural economies with those areas.

Some environmental groups are pushing to have the birds upgraded to the endangered list, citing how the population fell by 50 percent during last year’s surveys.

Father-in-law’s advice comes through, three decades after he’s passed

It’s been 30 years since one of the few times I fished with my father-in-law, Bill Johnson. He and his wife, Lois, were in Kansas after the recent birth of our daughter Lindsey. She turned 30 earlier this month.

Tiny black and yellow jigs have been a proven fly at Bennett Sprigs State Park for many years.

Tiny black and yellow jigs have been a proven fly at Bennett Sprigs State Park for many years.

We were talking fishing, and I mentioned I was just getting into fly-fishing, a sport he enjoyed well. Bill reached into his fly vest, pulled out a small fly box and plucked out three flies. They were all the same.

They were tiny 1/100th or 1/80th ounce marabou jigs, with equal parts of yellow and black in the feathering. He said they were his go-to fly when he fished for trout at Bennett Springs State Park in Missouri, a place he enjoyed several trips per year.

Bill died before we could fish together the following year. Several years ago I gave Jerrod, and my nephew, Brian Elliott, each one of the flies Bill had given to me. That was as close as they’d ever come to fishing with that grandfather.

Last weekend I finally made it to Bennett Springs to mix a little work with a lot of play. I took along Jake Holem, my 12-year-old outdoors partner. Back in October we’d agreed that if he could raise his then poor math grade to a B or better I’d take him on a fly-fishing trip. He ended up with an A in math and I ended up with an excuse to go trout fishing.

The first full day he attended, and I mainly photographed, a fly-fishing clinic given by Jim Rogers, an Ozark legend of trout fishing at Bennett Springs. At the end of the class Rogers handed everyone a tiny fly box with five or six recommended flies. Tiny black and yellow marabou jigs were in the selection of every box. When I asked Rogers about the selection, he said they’ve been a popular, and productive, trout fly at Bennett Springs for many, many years.

Sunday morning I shot a few photos early, then grabbed my fly rod and waded through the dozens of people and out to a spot in the stream. I caught two quick trout on a salmon egg pattern fly, then the trout went cold. After ten minutes with no takes I tied on one of the tiny marabou jigs. I caught, and released, three nice rainbows within a few minutes then grabbed my camera to take advantage of good photo light.

Jake Holem with a nice Missouri rainbow trout fly-caught on a tiny marabou jig.

Jake Holem with a nice Missouri rainbow trout fly-caught on a tiny marabou jig.

Monday morning Jake and I tried the angling at Roaring River State Park. It was crowded, and several times we had spin-fishermen step right up and start working the hole we were plying with fly lines.  Within about 20 minutes the fish seemed to get lockjaw, probably from watching their brethren writhing, panicking and jumping after eating something in the water.

After a few popular patterns, I tied on one of the black and yellow jigs and began letting it drift down with the current, then slowly jerking it back. I had two strikes on the first cast. and caught two nice rainbows in about 30 minutes.

I’d gone into the day largely wanting Jake to fend for himself. On Sunday some kindly elderly gentlemen – and that’s an accurate description of the very polite and helpful guys – had selected and tied on Jake’s flies. He’d caught five or six trout that morning.

But Monday morning was much more of a challenge to the kid, between difficult casting locations, nasty knots his line and the finicky fish. Finally at about 8:30 I heard him say, “Hey, Mike, I’ve got one.” Looking over his fly rod was bowed and his smile was wide. Eventually he led a very nice rainbow to the net, removed the hook, held it in the current until it was strong and watched it swim away.

Half-way through the fight I asked Jake what fly he’d been using when he hooked the fish. He flashed a huge smile, and said, “The black and yellow, of course.”

Of course.


A favored Father’s Day memory

Since it’s Father’s Day, and mine’s been gone for about 16 or so years, it’s only natural I’ve thought of my Dad.

What came to mind was our last hunt together, and probably the only time in my life I could honestly say, “Great shot, Dad!”

Michael Pearce's dad, Darrell, with a mule deer buck he shot on their last hunt. It was surely the best shot he'd made in his life.

Michael Pearce’s dad, Darrell, with a mule deer buck he shot on their last hunt. It was surely the best shot he’d made in his life.

My Dad could do a lot of things very well. No matter what I broke he could fix it. Hallmark made millions off his ability to wade into one of their production machines and somehow find ways to make them safer, more productive and less costly.

Had it not been for the dyslexia that had many teachers calling him things like “stupid,” I have no doubt he could have been a world-class mechanical or electrical engineer. The cost also would have kept him from going to college, though. The Walton’s looked like the Koch’s compared to how my dad grew up. One of his favorite sayings, “What Depression, we never had anything to lose.” Dad had to leave home at about 16 so his family wouldn’t have to feed and care for him.  When he had an extra few dollars, he gave it to his mom.

I think that’s why he was so good at stretching dollars out of dimes. (Boy, do I wish I had that ability!)

Anyway, one of the few things my dad could not do was shoot well. I remember averages of a dove per box of shells, and ending a day with a high of three quail, despite a dozen or so solid points by my Brittany, Rose. He was probably worse with rifles.

Upon his retirement, Hallmark gave dad a fine pension and other savings…really generous…and some kind of carved crystal bowl. That seemed an odd thing to give someone like my dad. So, I joking told him for a retirement present I would either get him an even bigger crystal bowl or take him on the best deer hunt in Kansas with a dear friend of mine.

Yes, you know what he selected.

We were in the rugged ranch country of Logan and Gove counties the opening day of rifle season, and saw a few nice bucks early. I’d already told my friend, Stacy Hoeme, that we’d need to get as close as possible for dad to have a chance of making a good hit on a buck.

Dad, far from a trophy hunter, liked every buck we saw and Stacy and I joked we wouldn’t give him any ammo until we saw a buck we thought was fitting the occasion. Eventually we saw a herd of mule deer with a very good buck head into some canyons. We started our stalk on the unseen deer, hoping we could stay high and crawl up to a ledge and get dad a slam-dunk shot.


We’d just entered the rough country when that very buck up from a canyon about 180 or so yards away. That’s not a long shot for a lot of people, including my children and me, but I never really considered it for dad. But in less time than it takes to explain, he dropped to one knee, fired and put a .280 bullet through the buck’s chest. Mortally hit, it staggered a few seconds as dad emptied the rifle. I have no idea where those other four shots went, but they didn’t look to be anywhere near that deer.

No matter, the buck fell, and Dad got to bask in the glory of making a really nice shot on a trophy buck that would make him the envy of all the hunters around Tonganoxie, and all his old friends at Hallmark in Leavenworth.

The cancer that killed Dad came within a few months of that hunt, and though he lived for about another two years I think that was the last time we hunted together.

The day meant enough to Dad that he kept a photo of the two of us, and his buck, handy most of the time. The mounted buck, and a framed enlargement of the photo, sat where he could see both from his deathbed at his home. The enlargement was placed by his casket, as my step-mom wanted people to see Dad when he may have been at his happiest.

There comes a time, I guess, when all sportsmen have their own last hunt. I’m hoping mine is still 20 or so years away, but you never know.  I’m 56. I think Dad shot the buck when he was 65. That’s not much of a difference. We’ll see.

But a great hunt for a great animal, and being out with someone from my family wouldn’t be a bad way for me to go out, I guess.



Farewell to a favored angler

Through the decades I’ve shared time outdoors with billionaires, Hollywood heavies, true television stars, All-American athletes, beauty pageant winners and world-class anglers and hunters.

Dorothy Jacobs catches fish, happiness and health at Wichita lakes.I just found out one of my all-time favorites died about two weeks ago. Dorothy Jacobs was from Wichita and seldom ventured beyond the city limits for her beloved fishing. She was the mother of 11 and once joked she almost had more grandkids than she could count.

I could say the same for the times she made me smile during a few phone conversations, and a few hours fishing the north lake at Chisholm Creek Park.  She had me smiling, she had me laughing and she had me thinking “wow,” so many times.

We’d met through Paul White. One day at his multi-purpose store I’d mentioned I’d wanted to do an article on someone who really fished the urban lakes a lot. Preferably, I was hoping to fish with a female to add even more uniqueness to the story. He mentioned Dorothy, but mentioned she could be pretty private. I called her that afternoon and the talk was a bit hesitant for a few minutes, and then it flowed and flowed.

I learned that she fished almost daily when the weather was decent, but also that catching fish was only part of the reason why she went to the water so often. To Dorothy, fishing and all it entails, was better therapy and medicine than could have been administered by the best of hospitals, and the woman had plenty to heal.

At the time she was 68, had survived cancer as well as a broken back. She’d buried two beloved husbands and nine family members, including a daughter and grandson, had died the year previous to when we met in 2008. She was also caring for a very ill granddaughter at the time. Her family, unfortunately, has had more than their share of sickle-cell anemia.

“I always do my best praying when I’m by that water,” is one great quote she gave me.

“Old age doesn’t mean you have got to act old. I’m going to get all the joy I can out of my life.  All I need is my poles and a lake,” was another gem.


That morning at the park hardly anyone was catching fish, but Dorothy caught about 20. She had this beat-up old car, from which she pulled-out a beat-up old shopping cart that she packed with aged equipment. I found out later her loving family had offered, several times, to buy her better gear. She laughed as she told me that, and said newer stuff wouldn’t help her catch more fish or make her any happier at the lake.

As I watched, it was obvious Dorothy caught more fish from experience and intelligence than most people with fancy gear. She kept her baited hooks close to shore, and said, “I don’t know why people think they should cast way out to the middle of the lake. Most of the fish are feeding by shore.”

Dorothy Jacobs catches fish, happiness and health at Wichita lakes.Time after time she’d watch her bobber start to dance, and accurately predict the species of creature below by the way it was taking the bait. She was right 100 percent of the time on a day of bluegill, green sunfish, bass, small channel catfish and a turtle.

“Just to see my line tighten up, or that bobber moving, it’s something I love to do,” she said. I don’t see how people can’t.”

According to her daughter, Janet Radig, Dorothy enjoyed a lot of both the day before she passed when she caught, cleaned and ate some of the 60 fish from that morning.

I’m glad her last trip was a great one.

Casts and Blasts about the Hausermans, world champion pistol shooters

As is often the case, there was more to the story on Sunday’s Outdoors page about Dakota and Daniel Hauserman than space to print it. They’re the Wichita niece/uncle team that won world championships at the 2014 World Action Pistol Championship in Kentucky last month.


Wichita's Dakota Hauserman, 25, won a championship at the 2014 World Action Pistol Championship at Park City, Ky two weeks ago.

Wichita’s Dakota Hauserman, 25, won a championship at the 2014 World Action Pistol Championship at Park City, Ky two weeks ago.

– While they only shot about 250 rounds of ammo during the actual competition, many competitors may have fired up to 2,000 practice rounds.

– Not Dakota, she passed up several chances to go to the practice range with her uncle and father, Dhon. “I told them I was there on vacation, so I was going to just sit around and relax at least part of the time,” she said.

– Dakota made the trip with her favorite pistol partners, but not her favorite hunting partner. That would be her pint-sized pomeranian, Hans, who mostly just keeps her company. One time hunting geese near the edge of her family’s rural Sedgwick County home, Dakota dropped a big Canada that hit with just a broken wing. She tried to get Hans involved in fetching the bird. “He just took a look and headed for the house,” Dakota said, shaking her head and laughing aloud as she remembered the hunt.

– Hans will not be making the trip to Florida when Dakota heads south to start law school later this year. He’ll stay with her parents, which is a great way for them to insure she’ll come home over school breaks.

– Dakota also won’t have a boyfriend following her to Florida, either. “I’m just too busy to mess with a boyfriend,” she said.

She’s also found that too many young men are intimidated by her favorite pastime and her scholastic success. “If it’s not when I start talking about guns, it’s when I start talking about law school,” she said. “Either one, they’re usually gone. That’s really too bad.”

Daniel, left, and Dakota are all smiles after winning world pistol championships. Well, Dakota is smiling, anywa.

Daniel, left, and Dakota are all smiles after winning world pistol championships. Well, Dakota is smiling, anyway.

– As for hunting, Dakota said she likes ducks the best because, “That’s where the action is. I like doves, too.” She and her family hunt often around Fall River. Her deer rifle is a .243 Browning semi-automatic.

– Cameras make Dakota more nervous that gunning for world championships. Thursday, it took her “several” tries to make a perfect run of six steel plates while being videoed.

– In the article, Dakota said she enjoyed shooting shotguns more than handguns or rifles. She’s won some clay target championships, too. Her greatest prize, “I think we got something like 200 pounds of sausage,” she said with a laugh.

– Dakota is currently working as a clerk and assistant in the office of Judge Phillip Journey, an experience she said will be hugely beneficial to her goal of being an attorney.


Quivira National Wildlife Refuge to allow deer and turkey hunting, eventually

After about three years of discussions, research and gathering public input, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced limited deer and turkey hunting will be allowed at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.

 After about another three years of discussions, research and gathering public input, the first seasons may be held.

A whitetail buck photographed at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge last November.

A whitetail buck photographed at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge last November.

“Very basically, we have the opportunity to put on a deer and/or turkey hunt based on this plan,” Mike Oldham, refuge manager, said of the refuge’s recently approved Comprehensive Conservation Plan. Such plans are designed to give federal refuges management directions over about the next 15 years. Most segments have to undergo a federal approval process, and the public most be given chances to comment at about every stage.

The plan also states that no changes will be made in regards to what parts of the about 22,000 acre refuge can be hunted. Also, the entire refuge will remain closed to all hunting when endangered whooping cranes are present.

As per the deer and turkey, Oldham said Quivira will follow federal guidelines for designing hunting opportunities that should allow for some herd control, offer some recreation for hunters while not interfering with wildlife watchers, photographers and those hunting private lands that border Quivira. He hopes to work closely with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and will not rush into any actions.

“We know we don’t want to start with a big hunt. We want something like where you have to draw a special permit,” Oldham said. “We also probably won’t allow unlimited hunting days. It could be something like where the hunters come for an orientation meeting on Friday, then maybe get to hunt Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday.” Oldham said the hunts, which could start with less than 10 hunters at a time, could include the September’s youth season and the January season that’s held to hunt only antlerless whitetails. Permit numbers and hunting days could expand quickly should the need arise to harvest a significant number of deer, such as because of a disease outbreak.

Dogs training for the 2013 Master NationalDue to long-standing complaints that all hunting has been stopped when whooping cranes are present, the refuge had considered just permanently closing the hunting areas where, or near where, the whooping cranes usually congregate near the Big Salt Marsh. To make up for the loss, Quivira considered opening new areas in the eastern part of the refuge. With such a change, hunting could have possibly been allowed in those areas when whoopers were present elsewhere.

Losing access to the North Lake area, a favored hunting area north of the Big Salt Marsh, didn’t fit well with hunters.

“The vast majority, probably around 80 percent, of the public we heard from asked us to not close North Lake. They said if they had to choose, they’d rather have less hunting time than not get to hunt that area of the refuge,” Oldham said. “We also heard from non-hunters and they all said we shouldn’t do anything that would risk a whooping crane getting shot by leaving all hunting open. We really did take the (public) comments to heart.”


Riding and hiking the trails at Kanopolis State Park

Doje Kosek did a two hour trail ride to reach Red Rock Canyon, one of her favorite places near Kanopolis Reservoir. PHOTO BY MICHAEL PEARCE

Doje Kosek did a two hour trail ride to reach Red Rock Canyon, one of her favorite places near Kanopolis Reservoir. PHOTO BY MICHAEL PEARCE

It is the land once roamed by Carson, Cody, Custer and the Cheyenne.

It is a place where a famed frontier fort once stood past the edges of civilization and where native people battled hard to protect their way of life.

Kirk, below is this week's e-letter. Sorry, for some reason my computer won't accept my password to get into the system. I think I already have a storyfolder, with recipe attached. If not, just run this if you can. I'm at Kanopolis again today, and will be in for a long day on Friday. Solid cell service on the lake if you need me. Riding the trails in around Kanopolis State Park can include several well-marked water crossings, like this one being forded by Paula Avery, left, Ashley and Lacey Bowles. PHOTO BY MICHAEL PEARCE

Riding the trails in around Kanopolis State Park can include several well-marked water crossings, like this one being forded by Paula Avery, left, Ashley and Lacey Bowles. PHOTO BY MICHAEL PEARCE

It’s a landscape of caves, clear streams, jagged bluffs and vertical cliffs, sparse cactus and lush ferns, all  once bisected by herds of Texas longhorns headed to Kansas railroads.

And it’s only about 90 miles north of Wichita, and belongs to the public.

Pioneers say Oven Cave got its name because Native Americans used it as a place to smoke bison meet. It's now a popular hiking destination at Kanopolis State Park. PHOTO BY MICHAEL PEARCE

Pioneers say Oven Cave got its name because Native Americans used it as a place to smoke bison meet. It’s now a popular hiking destination at Kanopolis State Park. PHOTO BY MICHAEL PEARCE

Kanopolis State Parks is a vast place with nearly 30 miles of trails for horseback riders, hikers and mountain bikers who could get a Rocky Mountain-class workout.

Amid the trails is a very family-friendly trek less than two-miles round-trip, where young and old can scramble up and over and around a rocky trail used for centuries, and see visible signs of where buffalo once wore an obvious trail through solid rock through the millenniums.

Nearby you can sit in a cave, as ancient people once did, and see where they once drove buffalo over a nearby cliff to feed their people.

It’s a place where the earliest pioneers scratched names, dates and sometimes messages more than 150 years ago into vertical rock. Though now mostly covered by more recent scratchings, in some places the soft sandstone may still bear signs of markings left before the first European-Americans came through the land.

It’s the only place within a Kansas state park where trail rides can be purchased and enjoyed across that western landscape. For those with their own horses, there is the first state park campground designed to be very equestrian friendly. There are also about 200 primitive campsites and more than 125 with utilities for those who like living life easier.

A row of cabins overlook a lake with some of the best fishing in Kansas.

Check Sunday’s Wichita Eagle and/or for more details on Kanopolis State Park.

Another great hunt with “our Wounded Warrior”

For a few seconds Irona Cliver was bouncing her head and shoulders back and forth like she was grooving to a favored tune.

Later, for more than a few seconds, no part of Irona was moving, including her lungs.

Marine veteran Irona Cliver, right, with Ed Markel and her first turkey.

Marine veteran Irona Cliver, left, with Ed Markel and her first turkey.

“Irona, you need to start breathing, just don’t move your head around,” I told her through a soft giggle. The Marine veteran later admitted  the excitement of watching three turkeys come to calls and decoys had frozen her for a while.

We met in October at the Kansas Salutes the Troops event at Flint Oak. It’s an annual Wounded Warriors type of event that honors American military personnel who served well, but were somehow injured along the way. Her out-going personality probably made the 33 year-old Wichita businesswoman the most popular vet at the event. About five days after I handed her a business card at the event, and told her to contact me if she ever wanted to go hunting she did.

Back in December four of us hosted Irona at Ed Markel’s ranch in Elk County. Wow, what a hunt and what an amazing welcome locals put on for us. She got a nice 10-pointer, her first buck, and we all gained a great friend we instantly began to admire.


During that hunt on a cold, snowy day, Irona and I watched a flock of about 35 turkeys work through a big foodplot. I mentioned the birds were fun to hunt in the spring. In a split-second the woman who knowns nothing about shyness hit me with something like, “Ok, so when are we going?”

It took a while to get our schedules to mesh, with her running a successful business selling motorcycle-based clothing and accessories and heading off to win awards at shooting events for veterans. Last Thursday, we finally got things to jell.

Ed again volunteered his properties, which are all managed for wildlife. Justin “Boomer” Bremer, Ed’s wildlife biologist, had scouted the areas well. As Boomer predicted, turkeys came to one of their food plots at about 8 a.m. that morning.

They were three jakes, and with only a very windy day to hunt we’d agreed that Irona shouldn’t be picky.

When I first called her attention to the coming birds she zipped, dipped and raised her head from one of the shooting blind’s windows to another. She took it literally when I hissed, “You have to hold still.” She used my three-inch magnum 12 gauge to drop a bird at about 25 yards. She probably would have taken another of the surviving pair, but they never got far enough apart of insure a shot would just kill one.

Good thing, in the long run.

From left, Irona Cliver, Ed Markel and MIchael Pearce, minutes after getting the Marine veteran her first turkey.

From left, Irona Cliver, Ed Markel and MIchael Pearce, minutes after getting the Marine veteran her first turkey.

No, she didn’t fill her second permit but she came very close at several of Ed’s other properties. Actually twice she could have just stepped from the truck and killed a big longbeard, but that’s turkey shooting and not turkey hunting.

As we were packing up to head in at about 5 p.m.,  Irona was all smiles and high fives.

“It was a lot of fun and we got to see so much wildlife today, every place we went. It was just amazing,” she said, her blue eyes shining with excitement. “We got to see a lot of deer, and turkeys about every place we went, and just a lot of really neat things.”

She’s right, had she shot a second jake in the early morning we might not have gotten to hunt the other properties, and see the things she mentioned as well as yellow warblers, scissortails, eastern and western kingbirds, watch and listen to rooster pheasants cackling and drumming a few yards away.

One bird for the kitchen, a mindful of great memories for all involved and a very happy veteran.

Mission accomplished.



Underwater view of the walleye spawn

Craig Johnson is a friend of about the past five or so years. He is also a good fisherman and a Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism fisheries biologist.

Now, I find out he’s a pretty good amateur film maker.

Fisheries biologist Crag Johnson is good at catching fish. He's also pretty good at videoing them, too.

Fisheries biologist Crag Johnson is good at catching fish. He’s also pretty good at videoing them, too.

A few weeks ago Johnson, the fisheries biologist for El Dorado Reservoir, sent me a link to a video he’d shot of the fisheries crew netting female walleye along the dam at Milford Reservoir earlier this spring. Sounded cool, but I wasn’t expecting anything like what came across my screen when I finally got around to opening the link.

The underwater footage of down in the nets is nothing short of flat-out neat, as is the knowledge that Johnson did it all with a single GoPro camera, at times attached to a stick of sort and placed under the water.


Johnson said a sequel is coming soon, also dealing with the walleye spawn.

Should be fun stuff, too.