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 

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 kansas.com 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.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ A BLOG ON THE DECEMBER HUNT. 

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.

ClLICK HERE TO VIEW THE VIDEO.

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

Should be fun stuff, too.

 

 

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.