Outdoors Newsletter
April 15, 2014

Ark River Coalition hosting evening float on April 17

The Arkansas River Coalition, a group dedicated to protecting and sharing the beauty of the Arkansas River, is hosting one of their Twilight Floats on Thursday, April 27.

Participants are asked to gather at about 5:30 p.m. at Woodland Park in north Wichita for a few hours of floating on the Little Arkansas River. The float will start promptly at 6 p.m.

Completed waiver forms must be brought, and can be found at www.arkrivercoalition.org. The floats are free, but donations are encouraged to help with a variety of conservation programs.

With enough notice, loaner gear can be provided. Call 316-680-9669 or 316-755-1473.

More updates

Last week several outdoors-related bills drew some serious debate amid legislators in Topeka and their consituents.

Bascially, a move last Friday to bring an end to conservation easements was defeated when it was attached to another bill. Also, a bill that would have ended the Kansas Endangered Species act was stalled as was one that would have given the antlers of poached deer to landowners.

Chris Tymeson, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism attorney, cautioned that “nothing is ever dead in the legislature until the final bell rings.” The legislature is slated to return on April 30.

So far spring turkey hunting success has been pretty good, especially in central Kansas where most are reporting good numbers of jakes and two-year-old toms. It sounds like people caught quite a few walleye during the spawn at El Dorado and Cheney this spring.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page will have a feature on turkey hunting with Theresa Vail, the current Miss Kansas. She’s one of the celebrities at the Governor’s Turkey Hunt in El Dorado this week. The angle of the story will be her decision to get into the world of outdoors television when her reign is over. The Outdoor Channel has already made her an offer. The story will also have a small box with the results of this year’s hunt.

The Outdoors page will also have an article previewing next Thursday’s Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting in Wichita, at the Great Plains Nature Center. It will be the first meeting where this fall’s waterfowl season dates will be discussed, including topics that have drawn quite a bit of seasoned debate the past two years.

Further down the road, I’m planning a column on my favorite kind of wild turkey to hunt, and I’m talking age not sub-species. I’ll eventually have coverage of next week’s commission meeting, too.

I’m still trying to get some things set-up for the six-part series that will feature one state park per month on the Eagle’s b-section, with a corresponding article on the same day’s outdoors page, too.

Michael’s world

Early Wednesday morning I got to witness, and hear, (oh boy, did I ever hear!) a pair of male pileated woodpeckers having a bit of a turf dispute about four miles north of Garnett, in Anderson County.

Pileateds are the largest woodpecker in Kansas and are about the size of a large pigeon but can make as much racket as a large flock of crows. Their call is a series of ten to 15 high-pitched, screaming notes that rise in volume. They are birds of mature forests, so their range and numbers are expanding pretty nicely.

These two males came into a wooded drainage that connected a pair of heavily timbered ridges from opposite ends, and neither appreciated the others existence. I saw no direct physical contact but the pair screamed and screeched as they chased each other through the trees for about 30 seconds.

Apparently bored by the over-abundance of testosterone, a female pileated quietly headed further from the pair.

Of interest was that shrill pileated calls were evoking gobbles from several jake (yearling) and tom wild turkeys across a nearby creek. The woodpeckers would scream and the turkeys would gobble. There probably was no direct interaction between the two species.

This time of the year, when lust is in the air for male turkeys, they're hormonally wound so tight about any loud, startling sound gets them to erupt with a "shock" gobble. That's why on morning roosts they'll often gobble at the calls of barred owls, howling coyotes, honking geese, honking cars and the sounds of big honking woodpeckers, too.

Speaking of turkeys, my 11-year-old friend Jake Holem is done for the spring seasons. He shot a nice jake Friday afternoon and a nice longbeard Saturday morning. The limit is two in the spring. He’s right-handed and had to shoot the longbeard left-handed, which we’d practiced a bit. It’s not a big deal if you remember to close your right eye.

I filled one permit on Wednesday, and I’m holding my other permit back to a return to eastern Kansas. A buddy has granted me rare access to his 2,000 acres around Garnett. If he’s nice enough to let me on the land, I danged sure would like to take a bird off the place.

From one spot on his land I could hear the assembly call of two or three coveys of bobwhites. It was also the first time this year I heard the namesake "bob-bob-white" of a male quail. It was also good to see quite a few cottontails hopping about in the underbrush.

A small pond on the property held a flock of seven blue-winged teal and, I think, a bluebill. That's probably the only time in the life of those bluewings they've really had to struggle to keep up with another species of waterfowl in the air.


Michael Pearce



2 turkey legs plus wings, or 2 turkey thighs

Kosher salt

1 tbs. juniper berries (optional)

1 tbs. black peppercorns, cracked

1 tbs. coriander seed, cracked

1 tbs. cumin seed

1 tbs. oregano, Mexican if possible

1 small cinnamon stick

2 cloves

3 dried small chiles, such as an arbol or Thai

3 bay leaves

5 tbs. lard or olive oil

1 tbs. honey

Juice of 1/2 an orange

Remove the skin from the turkey, save it to make cracklins if you want. Put the turkey in a large Dutch oven or large lidded pot, add all the herbs, spices and enough water to just barely cover the meat in the pot. Cover and simmer for 3 to 4 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone.

When it is tender, remove from the pot and let it cool. Shred with two forks or your fingers. Discard the bones and any tendons. You can store the meat for up to a week at this point.

To finish, Add the lard to a frying pan and brown the meat as much as you like. I like a mix of soft and crispy. At the very end, drizzle in about a tablespoon of honey and the juice of half an orange. Mix and serve. I serve this as part of a taco plate. But you can eat it any way you like it: Sandwiches, ravioli filling, a topping for rice, in a burrito.