Author Archives: Michael Pearce

Small turkey, huge appreciation from a deserving hunter

Roger Dakin lost his legs in a fire-fighting accident, but not his desire to hunt. He shot this turkey Saturday morning.

Roger Dakin lost his legs in a fire-fighting accident, but not his desire to hunt. He shot this turkey Saturday morning.

Odds are a lot of wild turkeys were called in and killed Saturday morning. A lot of those toms were probably trophy-class gobblers.

But I doubt any were as appreciated as a young jake I watched get taken in Butler County. I assure you none in the state were more deserved.

“I’m either going to have to shoot one of those birds or have a heart attack,” Roger Dakin said, trying to calm himself after watching some Rio Grande jakes attack a Dakota jake decoy 15 yards from the blind. “I can’t believe how hard my heart’s pounding.”

A few minutes later Dakin was heading towards his dead bird, going as fast as his hands cold  push the wheels on his chair across the prairie. At the bird he swung his body to the ground and continued his wide smile.

Mine was probably as big.

Two of the four jakes that came to calls and the Dakota jake decoy, giving Roger Dakin a great show for about 20 minutes.

Two of the four jakes that came to calls and the Dakota jake decoy, giving Roger Dakin a great show for about 20 minutes.

Dakin,  56, was a Sedgwick County firefighter when he  lost his legs while fighting a grass fire in 1989. A car came through the blowing smoke too fast, struck Dakin and pinned him against a fire truck.

“Just the wrong place at the wrong time, really” he told me about a year ago.

We met last year when he was part of the Hunting Heroes program for the Governor’s Turkey Hunt in El Dorado.  The program honors military, fire or law enforcement personnel who have been injured while serving. Dakin didn’t get  a bird on the hunt last year, but I got a look at a man who hasn’t let life pass him by despite the accident.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ LAST YEAR’S STORY ON DAKIN.

We’d tried to make it out after the Governor’s Hunt last year but couldn’t get schedules to mesh. He fired back an affirmative reply when I sent him a text last week, asking if he’d still like to go. We met Saturday morning in El Dorado, to hunt a special place minutes from town.

The place was a hilltop food plot with a solid farm trail leading right to a pop-up blind. Dakin was able to put his pick-up in four-wheel-drive and pull up within a few feet of the blind.

I lifted the blind, Dakin wheeled inside and I went to park his rig below the ridge.

Except for a bit of  a riot from a dozen or so wasps inside the blind when we arrived, getting settled wasn’t too hard. I’d placed carpeting in the blind to make it easier for Dakin to maneuver his wheelchair.

It sounded like about  dozen toms were gobbling from a hardwood valley about 150 to 200 yards away. They answered my calls, as well as getting into gobbling arguments amid themselves as daylight arrived. When the first bunch of gobbles sounded a bit more muted I told Dakin they were on the ground. When some gobbles sounded closer I told him we had birds on the way. A few minutes later four jakes sprinted on to the food plot, and right to the Dakota jake.

We had about five hours to hunt, and I told Dakin I thought there was a high chance a longbeard would come to calls or wander by in that amount of time. If nothing else, we could come back again until he got a bird. He put his 20 gauge down, and agreed we’d wait and enjoy the show as we waited for a bigger bird.

And brother, what a show…

Jakes are the undisputed class clowns of the springtime woods. They’re totally lacking in experience but totally filled with raging hormones. They pecked at the decoy. The strutted around the decoy. They gobbled. They yelped. They purred…they drove Dakin crazy.

“Ooo, that would be a perfect shot right there,” he said, looking at one jake with it’s head and neck flagpole straight. “He’d be just perfect.”

“Hey, I think that ones a little bigger, isn’t it? He’d probably be a good one to shoot,” he said as he studied the four body sizes.

“Look at that, how pretty they are in that sunlight,” he added. “I had no idea their feathers reflected those colors like that. They’re gorgeous.”

Several times he commented how excited he was getting watching the birds.

“I’ll kick myself forever if I don’t and up not getting a bird,” he said as he lifted his shotgun. “I’ve got to shoot one.”

Roger Dakin pushes his wheelchair to a turkey he shot Saturday morning.

Roger Dakin pushes his wheelchair to a turkey he shot Saturday morning.

When the birds separated a bit Dakin  made a great shot that centered the bird’s head and neck and didn’t put a pellet into edible meat.

“That’s only my second turkey,” he said as we watched the other three jakes beat up on their fallen comrade. “I’ve always been more of a deer hunter but I can see I’m going to have to start getting more into this turkey hunting. It’s exciting.”

I called the landowner, and he came out to meet Dakin and offer him congratulations. We talked with him a bit and I gave Dakin a quick tour of some neat property along the Walnut River. It was about two hours after taking the bird that he dropped me off at my SUV.

“I’m telling you, I could really feel my heart pounding when they were at the decoy. It’s still pounding pretty hard and that was a long time ago,” he said before offering a handshake of appreciation. “I won’t say I don’t get buck fever, because deer get me excited, but it’s been a long, long time since I’ve felt anything like this morning on a hunt. Man, that was fun and exciting.”

Glad we made it happen, Roger. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been happier to see someone shoot a bird.

 

The crappie spawn is on!

ELK CITY STATE PARK – Born about 40 years apart, and one deep in his  aviation career and the other not far into her educational process, veteran angler J.R. Dunn and nine year-old Taylie McKlintic wouldn’t seem to have much in common.

J.R. Dunn fishes for crappie after a storm passes at Elk City Reservoir.

J.R. Dunn fishes for crappie after a storm passes at Elk City Reservoir.

But Monday evening both were wearing smiles equally wide, and both owed them to a favored rite of spring – the crappie spawn at Elk City Reservoir.

Dunn had spent much of the afternoon at a wide cove within the state park, a place he said he’d fished for about 40 years. He waded a few steps into the lake with waterproof boots, then used a pole about 12 to 14 feet long to lower a dainty crappie jig down into brush in a few feet of water.

“They haven’t been along the banks like they were before the snow hit (last week), but I hope they start doing a little better.,” Dunn said. “It’s time.” Others fishing along the shoreline agreed, it was down to a “could break loose at any hour” time of the spring.

Dunn caught five nice crappie within the first few minutes of his Monday trip to the lake, then things slowed down. A small, but intense thunderstorm on the horizon sent him to his home in Sycamore with nine. He was back as the storm passed, trying for more.

Taylie was fishing with Beau Schultz, coach of the baseball team at the local community college, and four year-old Bryor Schultz. She and the boy played in the mud and grass while minnows swimming below bobbers did the work. Schultz called one child or the other when one of those bobbers disappeared below the surface, and helped them get the fish to shore. Their first two crappie were gorgeous females about 14 inches long.

After a lull of about an hour after the storm, fishing action picked up all around the broad bay, and smaller bays that reached into the state park.

Kaylie McKlintic, left, shows a nice crappie she caught, while Bryor Schultz hides from the camera. They were fishing with Beau Schultz, center.

Kaylie McKlintic, left, shows a nice crappie she caught, while Bryor Schultz hides from the camera. They were fishing with Beau Schultz, center.

Dunn caught several more fish along a section of shoreline, while his friends did well with long rods from a fishing dock surrounded by brush.

J.R. Dunn lifts a crappie from the shallows at Elk City Reservoir.

J.R. Dunn lifts a crappie from the shallows at Elk City Reservoir.

Across a small cove from where Schultz fished with the two kids, Jon Nagel and a friend were doing well fishing close to shore and further into the cove. At one point they hollered to ask Schultz if he could spare a few minnows. He said he could, adding, “The guy at the bait shop in town is pretty generous. I know he gave me way more than I paid for, but he said it was important since I was taking the kids.”

Nagel and his friend ended up with about 20 crappie. He was back at about dawn the next morning. Dunn figured a lot of the same anglers would return Tuesday afternoon, too.

“A lot of people camp out here, but usually most of the crappie fishermen are locals,” Dunn said.  “I seem them out here every year. There’s a lot of crappie in this lake. It can be pretty danged good when everything gets right.”

Video highlights program that creates four-legged game wardens

Since about everybody hates poachers and about everybody loves dogs, this video of the Indiana K-9 Resource Protection Program.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO SEE THE VIDEO.

The video may be from Indiana but it has some close ties to Kansas. The very successful Kansas K-9 program is modeled after what’s been done in Indiana for quite a few years. In fact, the wardens within our program, and their dogs, get much of their training in Indiana. Several other states use the Indiana training program, too.

Kansas’ four-legged game wardens have played key roles in hundreds of cases, ranging from finding key bits of evidence used to help convict poachers to tracking down felons on the run.

Kansas game warden Chris Stout, of Wellington, makes an appearance on the video and furnished the link.

 

Blasts and Casts from hunting with Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas

I wasn’t surprised when I got the text on Sunday morning.  When I saw the name, I was pretty sure it would have a photo of Theresa Vail with a nice tom she’d shot just minutes before.

I was right on both counts. Knowing she didn’t fill her second turkey permit on Saturday’s second, and last, day of the Governor’s Turkey Hunt, I figured she’d be somewhere hunting for at least a while Sunday morning, even though she’d tagged a great bird on Friday.

Our current Miss Kansas really isn’t very good at failure. Then again, that’s not something she’s very familiar with.

Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas, didn't like not getting a turkey on Saturday, so she went out Sunday morning and called one up on her own. COURTESY PHOTO

Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas, didn’t like not getting a turkey on Saturday, so she went out Sunday morning and called one up on her own. COURTESY PHOTO

I’ve met a lot of 23 year-olds in my many more years. Probably none have been as impressive as Vail, for a wide variety of reasons. Obviously she’s very attractive, but that’s well down on her long list of attributes. I mean that very honestly.

Most people know she’s been an honor student majoring in chemistry and Chinese at K-State, while serving in the Kansas Army National Guard. She’s been into boxing, sky-diving, motorcycle riding and serious hunting. It was widely publicized, after she won the Miss Kansas pageant that she did all those things proudly, learned to sing opera off the ‘net for her talent and basically said, “This is who I am,” when she refused to cover her tattoos in the Miss America pageant.

I was blessed to be the first member of the media to really spend some time with Vail in her element.  A few days after she won the Kansas crown we met at a Wichita archery range for an interview and to talk bows and hunting. There was NO doubt the woman was serious about both. When I mentioned the Governor’s Hunt in El Dorado she was very interested and eventually jumped at the chance when an invitation was sent.

I spent Thursday evening, Friday and much of Saturday with Vail and her father, Mark at the hunt. YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ THE STORY ON SUNDAY’S OUTDOORS PAGE, AND SEE A PHOTO GALLERY FROM THEIR HUNT.  Some of the things I learned -

- She’s far more comfortable in hunting boots and camo than anything she’s worn on a runway or other photo shoot.

- She has a great sense of humor, and takes kidding well  but gives it back with just a bit more spice, most times.

- Like most intelligent women, Vail doesn’t like to judged by her looks and her title. She tensed up, but held her tongue, when a man basically suggested someone should help her load a shotgun.

- Don’t tell her she can’t do something unless you want to stand there and watch her do it…especially if you say she can’t do it because of her gender or age.

- You can tell by the way she looks at him that she truly idolizes her dad.

- When she makes a mistake, which doesn’t happen often, she owns it and fixes it with no excuses.

- She’s tough and dedicated. To get her to quit hunting you about have to carry her to the truck, which wouldn’t be easy if she really didn’t want to go. Years of serious physical fitness have her stronger than most men that outweigh her by 40 pounds. She belly crawled when asked to belly crawl and would have waded a deep, cold creek, if we thought it would have gotten her a better chance at a bird.

- She’s pretty strict about her Paleo diet, which basically means she only eats pure, unprocessed meat and the same with fruit and veggies. Ask, and she’ll tell you the many benefits the healthy diet have brought to her. The main one is that she simply feels better and gets better performance from her body. She will always stress that’s it’s not, in any way, to help her lose weight.

- Vail holds a grudge. When a flock of gobblers didn’t come to calls Saturday morning there was no doubt she’d be back, with guide/friend Pat Post, Sunday morning, if even only for a few hours.

- She prefers as much of a challenge as possible. When she and Post returned on Sunday, Vail insisted on doing all the calling, something she’d never done before. Like most of the challenges she’s faced and conquered, she said doing her own calling brought her great pride. She shot the tom at about 20 yards, with a new 3-inch magnum 12 gauge Franchi.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling, to go out and doing all of the calling,” she said. “I was way, way more excited than when I shot my first turkey (called in by Post) Friday morning.  I don’t have any more permits, but I just want to go out and call in some more birds. That was so exciting!”

- She’s excited about going on three elk hunts this fall, to film episodes for her upcoming series, “Limitless,” on the Outdoors Channel. She says she’ll kill an elk. That means out there somewhere, at least one nice bull is enjoying it’s last Rocky Mountain spring. Like I said, Theresa Vail really isn’t very good at failure.

- Finally, to the elderly many from Georgia who repeatedly acted and talked inappropriately to Vail at the Governor’s Hunt, I’d suggest you don’t do it next year when she’s not under Miss Kansas response restrictions. On second thought, go ahead…but make sure I’m there to watch the outcome. :-)

Patterning shotguns for turkey hunting important, fun

Jake Holem counts how many pellets from his 20 gauge made it into the kill zone of a wild turkey target. Five was considered a safe minimum.

Jake Holem counts how many pellets from his 20 gauge made it into the kill zone of a wild turkey target. Five was considered a safe minimum.

Preparation for most kinds of hunting and fishing are a lot of the fun in both activities.

For turkey hunting, that can include making sure you have permission on private lands and heading out to scout for birds and their daily patterns. My favorite way is to head out a few days before the season and listen for where the toms are gobbling from roosts, then try to check fields for travel patterns. I like to do the latter with binoculars from the distance, to keep from spooking birds from their routines.

Practicing with calls is fun before the season, though most who’ve been at turkey hunting for a few seasons have no problem picking up from where they left last spring with their calls. Buying a few new calls, or decoys, is about mandatory, too.

Trying new loads in shotguns can be a big deal, too.

A 2 3/4" magnum 20 gauge shell loaded with1 1/8 oz. of buffered 7 1/2 shot patterned extremely well.

A 2 3/4″ magnum 20 gauge shell loaded with1 1/8 oz. of buffered 7 1/2 shot patterned extremely well.

Last weekend my main hunting buddy this season, 11-year-old Jake Holem, and I set out to experiment with a few loads from his new turkey choke for his Tri-Star 20 gauge and I wanted to run a few new loads through my well-used Benelli. We printed a few special turkey head and neck targets we found online, the ones that show the location of the brain and the spinal column. A few empty pop cans also gave us an idea of pattern densities and where our patterns were hitting.

Our goal on the paper targets was to get at least 5 pellets in the spinal column and/or brain.

Some of the things we learned -

– Jake’s 20 gauge shot low, which means he had to aim at a bird’s head to insure the pattern was well distributed in a tom’s head and neck.

– As with many 20 gauges I’ve worked with, a Winchester 2 3/4″ shell, loaded with 1 1/8 oz. of #7 1/2 shot, with buffering in the shot column, patterned better from Jake’s gun than any three-inch load we tried. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find those loads in about 15 years, and I’m down to about 40 rounds.

– We also learned that Jake’s gun patterned well enough at 30 yards to easily make lethal shots at that range.

– Also, though my shotgun with a Carlson imp/mod. choke throws great patterns with 3″ #2 steel, it does very poorly with #3s of the same exact shell. Go figure?

– My shotgun is best with Hevi-Shot, 3″ #5s, followed by the old stand-by of 3″ #2 steel. I’m good to 40 yards, but would sure love to keep the shots under that distance, which normally isn’t a problem.

Having spent the time trying several loads in his shotgun, and practicing shooting left-handed, greatly helped Jake Holem make a great shot on this longbeard near Leon early Saturday morning.

Having spent the time trying several loads in his shotgun, and practicing shooting left-handed, greatly helped Jake Holem make a great shot on this longbeard near Leon early Saturday morning.

– Jake also learned that if he took his time, and shut his right eye, he could shoot his shotgun accurately left-handed…which was a good thing to know. Saturday morning the right-handed kid had to do just that when a flock of toms came in from our right.  The shot was 27 yards, and the shotgun, the choke, the load and the kid were on the money.

 

Ticks nothing to fool about

This may be April Fools Day and this blog is no trick, but anybody who ignores the threat of ticks is a fool.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE to read one of the dozens of articles and research papers published annually about the threat the world’s tiniest terrorists are spreading across the country.

This isn’t a scare tactic, it’s a fact of the outdoors for this millennium.

Coating clothing with permathrin is one of the best ways to avoid getting ticks, when used properly.

Coating clothing with permethrin is one of the best ways to avoid getting ticks, when used properly.

I’ve spoken with several people, including some in Kansas, who have survived Lyme Disease and all have said it’s taken them months for recovery.

A good friend, Luke Templin, contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever while turkey hunting on our farm last spring. Even though the disease was detected before any serious symptoms set in, it took him several weeks before he felt totally over the bad experience.

I’ve heard of people who have basically been crippled for life from Lyme Disease.  A young woman who several in my extended family knew died from the disease several years ago.

As someone who is in the outdoors a lot, I’ve been guilty of not taking the threat seriously enough. I’ve found more than 20 ticks on my body several times, I used to go entire springs and summers with no real prevention because I didn’t want to put chemicals on my body, and still don’t relish the concept, but…

Like many, now my favorite alternative is to treat my clothing with permethrin. It lasts for a few months, even through a few washings. I coated my camo, from boots to cap, with it on Monday morning and it’s been given plenty of time to dry. (You don’t want the stuff on your body when it’s wet!) I, and millions of others, recommend it highly, but be sure to read the directions before you apply it.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE FOR MORE ADVICE ON HOW TO AVOID TICKS. 

The vultures are back in Marion!

Like has happened every spring for the last several years, the birds have returned!

The annual gathering of turkey vultures in Marion.Friends in the town say they’ve been in the air by the hundreds the past few days, gracefully soaring about, ranging from a few feet above the trees to tiny specks high in the sky.

No, I’m not talking about some silly little swallows or the skinny-legged, geeky-looking over-sized shorebirds that gather along the Platte in Nebraska.

The turkey vultures of Marion County are back!

Last May we ran a fun newspaper feature on how nature’s clean-up crew gathered every evening on the city’s water tower, which sits on the edge of the school grounds, basically at the east edge of the CBD. YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ THE ORIGINAL STORY, AND ACCESS A PHOTO GALLERY WITH 50 PHOTOS.

Friday evening I noticed a gathering of easily 100-plus just around the park on Highway 77, in the north part of El Dorado, so the migration must be getting solid.

Last year I visited Marion around May 9th, and was probably past the peak of the migration according to a friend who lives near the roost.

The annual gathering of turkey vultures in Marion.A few Marion residents were actually appreciative of being able to watch the birds coming in to roost in the evening. Not so much, though, for the guy who had them roosting above his yard.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists lesser prairie chickens as threatened

A male lesser prairie chicken displaying for hens in Edwards County. The species has just been listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A male lesser prairie chicken displaying for hens in Edwards County. The species has just been listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Citing rapid population declines because of loss of habitat and an on-going severe drought over much of the bird’s range, Thursday afternoon the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced they’ve listed lesser prairie chickens on their threatened species list. In fact, populations had dropped by about 50 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to surveys done last spring in Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

A Fish and Wildlife press release estimated the range-wide population to be at about 18,000 birds, of which probably 80 percent, or more, are in Kansas.

“The lesser prairie chicken is in dire straits,” Dan Ashe, Fish and Wildlife director, said in the press release. “Our determination that it warrants listing as a threatened species with a special rule acknowledges the unprecedented partnership efforts and leadership of the five range states for management of the species.” Ashe was referring to an on-going working partnership that’s been formed between the five states, many conservation, ranching and energy groups.

In the past, Robin Jennison, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism secretary, said it was hoped the partnership, and its detailed plans for protecting millions of acres of lesser prairie chicken habitat, would be enough to keep the birds from being listed.

 

Wildlife officials concerned at attempt to revoke Kansas’ endangered species act.

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism secretary, Robin Jennison, on Thursday spoke with concern about a recent legislative attempt to repeal the Kansas endangered species act. It currently protects about 60 species of assorted Kansas wildlife and has been in place for about 40 years.

At a Topeka Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting, Jennison  said the concept of revoking the endangered species act had been added to House Bill 2118, a bill which removed the red-bellied and smooth earth snakes from the state’s threatened and endangered species lists. Fear of damaging populations of both species has hindered land use in the Kansas City area. Jennison said the even more restrictive amendment had been added Thursday morning, as the bill was being discussed within the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

Sen. Larry Powell, R-Garden City, the committee chairman, added the amendment for total revocation shortly before the bill passed from committee. The bill has already passed the Kansas house and now awaits action in the full Senate.

Jennison already had great concerns with species, especially those endangered or threatened,  being managed by legislative mandates. Currently, he said, only four states do not have endangered species acts.

“Science needs to have some basis in these decisions,” said Jennison, who also warned of possible federal interventions should the state’s endangered species act be revoked.

Powell, who has consistently opposed the department on issues including wildlife habitat improvement, providing more public lands and endangered species, surprised the agency when he made Thursday’s amendment to the existing bill.

Jennison said he would “be shocked” if the existing bill passes through the Senate, but added the bill would certainly have some strong support and needed organized opposition.

“I know there are people in the legislature who think we should not have threatened and endangered species lists,” Jennison said.

Several times Commissioner Don Budd, a Kansas City developer, asked questions about red-bellied and smooth earth snakes, stating the department needed to use caution because their action could trigger more extreme, over-riding action from the legislature.

Jennison insisted the agency should act on what science says is best for a species. Rep. Will Carpenter, R-El Dorado, attended the evening session. Carpenter spent many years as a Wildlife and Parks Commissioner, and agreed with Jennison.

“You guys are in charge of the stewardship of the wildlife of this state,” Carpenter said to the commission. “You’ve got to be the voice.”

3-D Archery, great afternoon…even if you do get beaten by a kid

Jake Holem removes a well-shot arrow from a 3-D target. Yes, it's the one I missed totally. PHOTOS BY MICHAEL PEARCE

Jake Holem removes a well-shot arrow from a 3-D target. Yes, it’s the one I missed totally. PHOTOS BY MICHAEL PEARCE

Should you be wandering around out west of Clearwater anytime soon, please keep your eye out for an arrow.  It’s a Carbon Express, probably with neon yellow and green vanes.

It might be anywhere from five to ten miles west of town and about two miles either side of  103rd. I can get you no closer than that. I just know it’s not sticking into a foam antelope target like it should have been. But hey, that I only lost one arrow out of 48 fun, hunting-like animal targets won’t have me complaining.

Saturday I spent the afternoon, and some of the evening, at the Ninnescah Bowhunters 3-D archery range. My 11-year-old outdoor buddy, Jake Holem was with me, testing out his new bow. Kimberly, Jake’s mom, was along to enjoy the day outdoors, keep score, congratulate Jake on his mostly great ones…and console me on my many failures.

Once a month the long-standing archery club tucked down near the Ninnescah River, hosts a day or two of shooting at 3-D targets. They include foam, live-sized likenesses of assorted deer, caribou, mountain goats, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, bears, turkeys, a wolverine a super-sized cobra target Jake loved and the danged antelope target that seemed to have some force-shield that deflected my arrows.

Some shots were on open prairie...

Some shots were on open prairie…

Throughout the property club members have placed the targets in hunt-like situations. Some are down in nice timber and some are on tall grass prairie. Most are shot at ground level and a few from high ridges or elevated platforms.

Some offer complete views of the target. At a few stations you have to be about half contortionist to lean out, in, up or down to thread an arrow through a tiny opening surrounded by really big trees.

(To the member who  placed the shooting spot on a side–hill only a billy goat could climb, and only offered a tiny fraction of the standing bear for the target…nice try, I did NOT put an arrow into either of the Sequia-sized cottonwoods my arrow had to pass within inches of…so there!)

Different classes of shooters shoot from different places on each target. I enrolled in the “hunter” class, because that’s what I am, a bowhunter and not an avid target archer. Most of the shots were from 40 shots on in, with a lot around 30 yards. Much of the challenge is estimating the shooting range. Range finders aren’t allowed for those keeping score.

Jake was in one of the three youth classes, and had shots from about five to 23 yards.

Others were in river bottom timber. All were a lot of fun.

Others were in river bottom timber. All were a lot of fun.

The crowd was light, but the members on hand were very helpful and supportive. (And hopefully one will find that wayward arrow, too!)

We walked the course mostly on our own, Jake and I shooting while Kimberly kept score and tried not to laugh, (loud enough for me to hear, anyway,) at some of my shots.

Saturday afternoon the weather was stunning, and I particularly liked the walks down along the Ninnescah. With nothing but open air and deep water behind those ten or so targets concentration was important.

It was also just a danged pretty view, especially when Kimberly noticed a mature bald eagle sailing down the stream (the first she’d ever seen) and the bird perched on a limb across the river.

Darrell Allen, a member I’ve known for years, said it would take about three hours to do the course. Not our group of slow-pokes. They have you shoot the same 24 targets, twice, but they change the location from where you shoot. It took us more than four hours, with only a minimal rest in between, but a fair amount of time looking for my lost arrows.

My range estimation was a bit off on the first round, and I just knew I’d shoot better the second. But a lost arrow, and a couple of other total whiffs say differently. The angles and distances offered were harder on the second round. Fatigue also played a factor, too. Yes, Jake shot better than I did but I did OK, though.

Jake’s ready to go again, maybe back to Ninnescah Bowhunters or maybe a range by Hutchinson. Kimberly is also showing an interest in giving archery a try, and she may be rigged up with a bow in the next week or so.

Great, that means next shoot I may have two beginners putting me to shame. Oh well, …

photo 4As for the matter of that lost arrow. If you happen to live anywhere within a five mail radius of the 3-D course, and you happen to find an adult-sized arrow stuck in, say, your house, a tire on a automobile or a piece of lawn furniture…you have my sincere sympathy and complete denial. :-)

Click here for more information on Ninnescah Bowhunters.