Author Archives: Michael Pearce

Wildlife and Parks to ask commission for later duck, goose seasons

Aug. 21, near Great Bend, biologists will ask the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission that many of the 2014-15 Kansas duck and goose seasons run a bit later than suggested in the past.

Tom Bidrowski, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism waterfowl biologist, said the department’s recommendations are based on migration trends, hunter participation in recent seasons, top duck and goose harvest dates and the results of a recent survey sent out to waterfowl hunters. Opening dates of the late plains late zone, southeast zone duck seasons, and goose seasons could open a week later, and have more January and February days than previous recommendations.

Retrievers may face colder conditions if the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission honors the department's requests for later duck and goose seasons.

Retrievers may face colder conditions if the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission honors the department’s requests for later duck and goose seasons. this fall and winter.

The following dates will be recommended -

Southeast duck zone – Nov. 8-Jan. 4 and Jan. 10-25.

Low plains late zone – Nov. 1-Jan. 4 and Jan. 17-25.

Low plains early zone – Oct. 11-Dec. 7 and Dec. 20-Jan. 4.

Canada and light goose – Nov. 1-Nov. 9 and Nov. 12-Feb. 15.

White-fronted geese – Nov. 1-Dec. 14 and Jan. 17-Feb. 15.

Bidrowski said the way weekends fell on the calendar this year played a role in pushing some seasons to their latest starting dates in decades. Traditionally the low plains late zone opened the last Saturday of October. He felt Oct. 25 possibly could be too early.

“We also did it to appease some of the interests in the later season dates,” Bidrowski said. “and it works very well with overlapping our dates for goose seasons, too.”

The last three years the August commission meetings have been the most continuous of the year because of debate over setting waterfowl seasons, particularly for the southeast duck zone. The past two years Commissioner Don Budd, of Kansas City, has countered with seasons that ran mostly from mid-Nov. through the last weekend in January, and gotten commission approval.

At the upcoming meeting at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, Bidrowski will explain the results from a waterfowl survey sent to about 7,100 Kansas duck and goose hunters earlier this year. While statistically valid, he said the 2,100 responses means the survey had less than a 30 percent response rate.

“We believe we’re seeing some fatigue in our surveys,” he said. “I think some people are just getting tired with the battle of the seasons we seem to have every year.”

Hot temperatures – hot wiper fishing

The first wiper of the morning came within about the first 10 minutes of angling.

The first wiper of the morning came within about the first 10 minutes of angling.

I wasn’t surprised to hear from Mark Fowler last week. The extended forecast told me he’d probably be giving me a call, text or e-mail.

Every summer that we get a run of warm, stable weather, avid wiper fishermen like Mark find the fish hungry and in stable patterns. For Mark that means dragging big crankbaits and plastic jigs behind downriggers at Cheney Reservoir. Monday morning Mark and his father caught 10 wipers, the best of which was up to about eight pounds.

Tuesday morning he took Jacob Holem, a 12-year-old friend of mine, (and now Mark’s) and me.

Mark Fowler pilots the boat while Jacob Holem puts the finishing touches on rigging a downrigger.

Mark Fowler pilots the boat while Jacob Holem puts the finishing touches on rigging a downrigger.

Conditions were perfect when we met at 7 a.m. at Cheney State Park. It was already getting warm, the wind was about 10 m.p.h. and had been from the southwest for hours.

After a short ride, we put the downriggers down near a hump where Mark has caught wipers for years.  He’d just said they’d fished for an hour Monday before getting a fish when one of the rods started bucking and  Jacob was giggling and fighting his first wiper. When the fish measured 22 inches, it went into the livewell.

Ten minutes later we were trolling when Mark pointed to a bright blog on his electronics and said, “That’s a big blob of shad and we should catch a fish there.” Seconds later the left rod bent deep and the reel started spewing line. Rather than just one nice wiper, the line had one on the bottom crankbait and another on the swimbait a few feet up.

And so it went for the first 90 minutes of trolling. Fish after fish, Mark predicting when they would strike based on what he saw on his fish finder…and his few hundred mid-summer trips to Cheney through the years.

Since we hadn’t fished together in several years, Mark and I largely visited as Jacob took on more and more of the work with the downriggers. That included letting 80 feet of line from a rod, then attaching the line to a clip near the downrigger’s lead ball, and lowering the ball to the exact depth Mark wanted to be trolling.

A boat seeing our success at the original hump fouled things up by anchoring in the exact path Mark needed to keep us on the spot, which cut our

A pair of wipers that hit lures attached to the same line, at the same time.

A pair of wipers that hit lures attached to the same line, at the same time.

success. Still, the clicker on the boat’s dash showed we boated 17 fish, of which 14 were wipers, of which at least nine were over the lake’s 21-inch minimum length limit.

Mark Fowler's license plate leaves no doubt as per his favorite kind of fish.

Mark Fowler’s license plate leaves no doubt as per his favorite kind of fish.

At the cleaning dock we worked up our limits of two wipers, each, being careful to trim away every speck of strong-tasting red-colored meat. By then it was downright hot walking across the parking lot.

A little sweat seems a very small price to pay for fishing that’s even hotter than August in Kansas.

Short notice, short trip – great catfishing

Warren Kreutziger carries a channel cat to the cooler, one of many caught Friday morning.

Warren Kreutziger carries a channel cat to the cooler, one of many caught Friday morning.

I’ve spend as much as a year looking forward to a fishing trip. Planning them several months ahead of time is pretty common, especially for those out-of-state or out-of-country.

But I’ve noticed a lot of planning and anticipation does nothing to get the fish to bite. Nada.

Some very enjoyable trips, though, have had almost no planning.  A few hours early Friday morning at Marion Reservoir was a prime example.

Deadlines have been hitting me as hard and as fast as a BAR this summer. I’ve probably fished less this year than any of my life.

Warren Kreutziger, left, nets a channel cat caught by Marc Murrell. The fish was one of about a 15 Murrell caught Friday morning.

Warren Kreutziger, left, nets a channel cat caught by Marc Murrell. The fish was one of about a 15 Murrell caught Friday morning.

But heading home from work Thursday evening I realized I needed some catfish fillets to photograph for something I’m writing about cooking. Knowing I could spare a few hours Friday morning I called Warren Kreutziger, a friend who does a little guiding and a whole lot of fishing at Marion Reservoir. Warren invited me up, saying he had to go pour some soured soybeans in some of his chum spots in the morning, anyway. I told him I couldn’t fish long and he was fine with that.

Up at Marion, at Warren’s house about a mile from the lake, I met him and mutual friend Marc Murrell. Marc knows Marion as well as Warren, and he and his family were camping at the lake for a few days.

I told both of my hosts, what I needed was a fish or two for photos.

Marc had the first one in the boat within about five minutes of anchoring near one of  Warren’s chum holes. A few minutes later he caught an even bigger channel cat.

We were fishing about seven or eight feet of water, over some brush where Warren had been dumping raunchy-smelling, water-logged soybeans to attract the fish. Marc and Warren were using special dip baits they’d made themselves. The ingredients were varied, putrid and the cool part was how they used cattail seeds to help bind the gaggish, poo-like material on a treble hook.

Warren occasionally “freshened” the chum hole by dropping a few cups of beans overboard.

Rotten, putrid soybeans are used to attract channel catfish during the summer time.

Rotten, putrid soybeans are used to attract channel catfish during the summer time.

The morning was stunning, especially for early August. There was a bit of breeze but not too much. Long sleeves felt nice when we hit the water at about 7:30 a.m. And the fish were downright friendly.

Marc had the hot hand, catching 9 keepers before we packed up after about three hours of fishing. He also released several that were more than big enough for most folks. The limit is 10 per day, with no size minimum at Marion Reservoir.

As well as numerous, the channel catfish were pretty big. I’d say the average fish was probably around four pounds. We had a couple around six pounds, and one that may have passed seven by a cup of soured beans or so.

Catfish await cleaning in an old cooler.

Catfish await cleaning in an old cooler.

We…meaning Marc and Warren…cleaned 16 or 17 nice catfish. They were kind enough to let me take the fillets. I was back home in Newton before noon.

In a few weeks I’ll head to Montana for some fishing that’s been in the plans for more than a year. Even if it pans out, it probably won’t be any more fun than the unexpected success that came Friday morning.

So it often goes with fishing.

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.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ FRIDAY’S ARTICLE.

 

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.

Nope.

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.

PLEASE, CLICK HERE TO READ THE ORIGINAL STORY ABOUT DOROTHY. 

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.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ SUNDAY’S OUTDOORS PAGE FEATURE.

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.”

CLICK HERE TO REVIEW THE ENTIRE CONSERVATION