Outdoors Newsletter
July 20, 2014

Columbus teacher named to Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commission

Aaron Rider, a 34-year-old high school teacher from Columbus, is the newest member of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commission. He was appointed to the position by Gov. Sam Brownback. Rider is married and has two small children.

Rider describes himself as an avid angler and hunter, with a particular passion for waterfowl. His first meeting will be Aug. 21 near Great Bend. He has attended past meetings and watched others online. He will take the place of Robert Wilson, of Pittsburg. The June 19 meeting in Pittsburg was Wilson’s last, after serving two four-year terms.

Commission chairman Gerald Lauber has also been reappointed and will be serving his third four-year term.


Fishing has been good, but not exactly great, at most local lakes and reservoirs, with patterns waxing and waning. A lack of consistent weather may have something to do with it. I have received good reports of people catching wipers on cut white perch at El Dorado Reservoir. Several fishermen have commented on the population of white bass at Cheney Reservoir this year. A buddy says he’s been doing really well on wipers out there, though most are just below the 21-inch length limit.

I got my first report of young quail this week from a friend in Harvey County. Reports are still coming in on pheasant and quail. I know the songbird crop around our house is one of the strongest ever. The rains have certainly created a lot of bugs for chicks to feed upon. There’s also plenty of cover for fawn whitetail and mule deer, too.

Gov. Sam Brownback’s announcement that Kansas will begin to raise and release lesser prairie chickens is the current buzz across the Kansas outdoors scene. So far, he’s not received much support. One biologist referred to it as “our biggest embarrassment yet.” He said things like this, and the proposed, but defeated, bills to gut the Kansas endangered species act, and another to arrest federal employees trying to enforce regulations pertaining to lesser prairie chickens, will leave Kansas with a black eye for years in the American wildlife industry.


Sunday’s Outdoors page will have an article on what Texas biologists raising and releasing Attwater prairie chickens think of the new Kansas plan. Attwaters are an endangered species and numbers were as low as 40 birds in 2005. Since 1995, biologists have released 200 to 400 young Attwaters annually. The wild population going into this spring’s breeding season was estimated at 100 birds. Biologists say each bird released costs more than $1,000 to produce, of which 16 percent live the year needed to possibly raise young. About half of the adult birds die annually, too.

The page will have more information on new commissioner Aaron Rider and details on a bus tour of western Kansas that will have Wildlife and Parks biologists discussing the current, and future state, of pheasants across the region.

On the weekend of July 26-27, I’m hoping to have a feature on Tuttle Creek State Park. The outdoors page that weekend could be a feature on a unique type of fishing tournament that will be held within the state park in early August. All of the entrants will be fishing from kayaks, and some are rigged pretty special for fishing.


My summer of tough breaks continues that way. While up working at Tuttle Creek State Park, someone stole a rifle out of my car. There was no sign of forced entry but I’m meticulous about locking up the Honda. I’m thinking walking around with cameras all day may have drawn some attention, and that’s what took them to the car. My cameras were either in my hands or in the cabin with me. The rifle was in a case, under some throw rugs, tucked against a seat in the back.

It wasn’t much of a rifle, and was probably 60 or so years old and beat all to heck. The part that hurts is that it was my dad’s .22, and the rifle both of my kids and I used to learn to become good shots. It was an old Remington Youth Special bolt-action that I featured in a column last summer on how much the rifle meant to the family, and how well it shot.

This weekend I’ll be flying to Southern California to spend a long weekend with our daughter, Lindsey. Kathy spent a long weekend with her in Chicago, so now it’s my turn for some one-on-one time with Lindsey and her super-cool dog, Lady Bird. I’ll get to meet Lindsey’s new boyfriend and spend some time watching her new passion – rock climbing. It’s not for someone with my lack of balance and coordination, but if it means that much to her, I danged sure want to see her enjoying herself. I’ll be staying on the ground with Lady Bird.

It’s official, all of my zucchini and squash plants are now dead, having rotted where the main stem comes out of the ground. I’ll have to get some soil tests done sometime. The good news is that our tomato crop is looking pretty good and ripening at a nice rate. That means we should be in BLTs for a long time to come, and that’s always a great way to cheer me up.

Lindsey and Lady Bird will help a lot, too.


Michael Pearce