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Michael Pearce’s Kansas Outdoors has moved

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Fall 2013 Duck Forecast Promising


Duck Species 2013



Better put that Lab, Chessie or golden on a serious work-out program. And it might be wise to start stocking up on a few more boxes of steel shotgun shells,…and not because they’re being hoarded like handgun and rifle ammo.

The number of ducks sliding down the fly-way could be impressive this year. Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl both recently sent press releases that site U.S. Fish and Wildlife figures showing the number of breeding (adult) ducks on the northern breeding ducks are high again.

Overall numbers are down six-percent from last year’s very high population, but the number of ponds available for breeding was up about 24 percent across North America’s “Duck Factory” of the northern U.S. and Canada.

The attached chart is courtesy of Delta Waterfowl. YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THEIR RECENT REPORT.


Court overturns penalties in Butler brothers poaching case

The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver has overturned penalties leveled against Texas brothers, James and Marlin Butler.

The Butlers operated Camp Lone Star in Comanche County, the scene of what may have been the largest trophy deer poaching operation in U.S. history.

Federal and state wildlife officials dubbed their efforts “Operation Cimarron” and confiscated about 120 illegally-taken deer. Charges were leveled on about 30 men from Texas and Louisiana that illegally hunted with the Butlers. Most have entered guilty fees for a variety of poaching crimes, including illegally transporting illegally taken wildlife over state lines.

For his part, James Butler , Camp Lone Star owner, was fined $50,000 in fines and restitution and sentenced to 41 months in jail. Marlin Butler, a guide, was fined $20,000 in fines and restitution and 27 months in jail.

The 10th Circuit Court took issue with how the U.S. District Court in Wichita had placed a financial value of $3,500 for each deer of which the Butlers faced charges. U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown had established the value based on prices paid for guided hunts by Camp Lone Star clients.

The case has been sent back to U.S. District Court for re-evaluation and resentencing.

Since Brown has died since the sentencing, a new judge will probably be appointed to the case that will see prosecutors trying to strengthen their case. Brown was 104 years old at the time of the sentencing and his death. Prior to then, he said he’d never had a case win an appeal.

State and federal wildlife officials said appointing a new judge increases the chances the Butlers could face much lighter fines. Also, assigning a lesser value per deer could also lead to lower fines and restitution payments.



Heath Getty’s aerial archery career continues to grow

A central Kansas archer continues towards his goal of making archery a full-time occupation. In the past few years Heath Getty has enjoyed an online video with millions of viewers, numerous public demonstrations and a pretty good run on a popular German television show.


Heath Getty, of St. John, continues to build his reputation as being one of America's top archers.

In 2009, photographer Travis Heying and I followed some backroads out of the tiny town of St. John to meet a young local man a caller said was a whiz with a bow when it came to shooting targets out of the air.

Travis’s video clearly showed the farm kid with a shy, “aw-shucks” smile could consistently hit zipping clay targets with well-aimed arrows.

For those who don’t know, those targets are about 1/2″X 5″, traveling at about 60 m.p.h., and are about 30 yards out by the time the arrow finds them. They’d have been a challenge with a shotgun, let alone a rifle or a bow.

At the time, Heath said he hoped his skills could lead to a career as an exhibition shooter. Well, he’s certainly getting there.

The video Travis posted on eventually led to more than 2.5 million hits. Heath has since done public shooting demonstrations in a number of bordering states. And, he’s become quite the hero in Germany, too.

It’s been about a year since the German television show, “Galileo,” sent a crew to St. John to spend two long days filming Heath making a variety of trick shots, including several kinds of aerial shots and shooting an arrow into the back of another arrow, Robin Hood style.

The show was obviously popular.

“Things literally blew up. On Facebook I got like 800 friend requests from Germany,” Getty recently said. “I’m still getting a lot of e-mails weekly. I guess they’re still showing it because every so often everything takes off like wildfire again.”

Heath has several aerial target exhibitions scheduled, and  is helping Atlas Trap promote their machine that lofts foam disks up to 150 feet into the air.

He’s also purchased a quality video camera and is hoping to get some of his archery hunts taped.

“Doves, geese, ducks, pigeons, turkeys, deer, pretty much everything that can be hunted, I’m doing it with a bow,” he said.

Wichita Mayor takes trophy bird

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

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

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

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

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

About half of the 70-plus hunters shot birds.

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


Searching for Bigfoot in Arkansas?

Have an extra $500 and a few free days? Here’s an outing like none in Kansas.

It also probably offers the world’s worst success rate, too.


Of course this is considering that the guide has purchased the proper licenses.

Worst-case scenario, it’s one of the prettiest areas in the Ozarks.

I wonder if  such guided trips to find and photograph mountain lions would work in Kansas? Hey, at least we have proof we occasionally have the big cats.

Nah, it seems about half of Kansas has already seen them. :-)


Geocaching class at Exploration Place on Saturday

Geocaching 101, a beginners-level course on geocaching, will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at Exploration Place.

The event is free, should last about two hours and will be taught by members of the Wichita Geocaching Society.

Geocaching is a rapidly growing outdoors pastime, with several million participants worldwide, that came about after the wide-spread availability of personal global positioning systems.

Many refer to it as a high-tech treasure hunt, where people go online for gps coordinates and clues to help them find hidden caches. There, they often exchange trinkets and sign a log book of those who’ve found the hidden cache. The cache may be contained in anything from an old can, a rotten log or some elaborate form of camouflage. Most “cachers” take great pride in the creativity of the caches they’ve hidden.

Charlie Fair, one of the instructors, said there are currently about 9,400 caches hidden in Kansas, including about 200 within two miles of Exploration Place.

Exploration Place is also featuring a geocaching exhibit through April 15, including a maze where the public follows GPS coordinates to find the exit.


Sometimes when it rains it really pours!

Only in Kansas can a farmer go to bed complaining about a drought and wake up complaining about flooding. So it happened across much of western Kansas beginning Friday evening.

Usually little more than a dry wash, the Smoky Hill River near the Chalk Pyramids was flowing high this weekend. Some places upstream had about 8-inches of rain.

Reports I’ve gotten range from 2 1/2 inches to more than 8 inches and most in a relatively short amount of time.

This weekend a friend who farms and ranches in Scott County and Gove County sent these cellphone pics from some of his properties.

In all the years I’ve chased pheasants and deer out there I’ve never seen a drop of water in the White Woman Creek. I’m guessing the water must be eight-feet-deep or better where this photo was taken.

The White Woman Creek in Scott County was full and flowing for the first time in several years over the weekend.

He also sent a photo of the Smoky Hill River. This bridge is immediately south of the Chalk Pyramids so many of you may have been over the same bridge. This photo is looking west from the bridge. The most water I’ve seen in the past is a 50-yard shallow pool under the bridge. It was still really ripping as of Sunday evening.

The big question out there was how much water soaked into the ground where it’s surely needed for this year’s planting of wheat.

Closer to home we had two-inches of rain in most places of the Wichita area and it fell gently. That should mean a good start for farmer’s wheat locally. It could also give deer and geese some valuable food this winter.

Speaking for selfish reasons, it is too bad the heavy, fast rains didn’t fall a few more counties to the east. That would have put them over the Walnut and Rattlesnake drainages and possibly put some serious water in Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira.

Cheney Reservoir’s blue-green algae advisory lifted

Just in time for Labor Day weekend Cheney Reservoir has been declared safe for such water sports as swimming and skiing.

Jonathan Larance, Kansas Department of Health and Environment public information officer, said tests run this week showed the lake’s water was below the advisory stage for the first time in several weeks.

Cheney has faced various blue-green algae warnings for several weeks. This summer’s extreme heat, light winds and drought have been tailor-made for algae blooms. Blue-green algae is toxic and can cause human illnesses if  ingested or contacted with the skin. At least three dogs have died from ingesting infected water at Milford Lake this summer.

Larance said caution is still advised for contacting water at Cheney Reservoir. People should avoid drinking the lake’s water and skin contact in areas where the water appears slimy or carries a nasty odor.

After being closed to all human activity because of high algae counts Milford Reservoir has been opened for fishing and boating.

Information  on other Kansas lakes is expected to be released later today.

For more information go to

High water closes part of state park

Heavy rains in early June still have Glen Elder Lake about 10 feet above normal conservation level.

Lake levels 10-feet above normal have flooded much of Glen Elder State Park.

Fishing is still pretty good but it’s playing heck with the lake’s state park.

Lisa Silsby works at the state park and said some roads remain closed because they’re covered with water.

Especially hard hit are some of the primitive campground areas.

Silsby estimated about one-third of about 300 primitive campgrounds are currently closed because of high water.

Several roads in Glen Elder State Park now lead into high water.

Portions of several improved campgrounds are also closed because of high water or closed roads.

The popular state park still has room for lots of campers.

Fishing for crappie, white bass, wipers and walleye has been good. Water clarity is nice, too.

The lake’s level has already dropped about 1 1/2-feet.

Release rates on several swollen Kansas lakes is going slower than many would like but high levels on the Kansas and Missouri Rivers mean release rates have to be modest until there’s room for more water.

Water volleyball anyone? Glen Elder Lake's high level has water about two-feet deep at the state park volleyball area.

Water levels are also high at several other Kansas state park.

Linda Lanterman, state park director, said Glen Elder is the most seriously impacted.

Long periods of high water could lead to increased bank erosion at the lake, too.