The Kansas Wildscape Foundation and the Kansas Trails Council have partnered to begin a new online site designed to help people easily learn what is available in the Kansas outdoors.
Get Outdoors Kansas is designed to be a “one-stop shop,” Charlie Black, Kansas Wildscape director, said in an e-mail. As well as furnishing the public with information on upcoming events, and the locations of top destinations, the site is designed to give communities and conservation groups another way to promote their outdoors activities for free. There are already more than 1,000 miles of assorted hiking trails on the website.
Fishing is starting to roll along pretty well, with the exception of right after a cold front rolls through. Some crappie are being caught shallow, as are some largemouth bass. Walleye have been caught on the flats, and nearby breaks, at several central Kansas reservoirs.
Some turkey hunters have stated the birds have been a bit unresponsive the past week, with gobbles being few and far between. I’m not sure if it’s weather-related, but I’ve heard the same frustrated reports from two different hunters who know what they’re doing in the springtime woods.
A few morels are still being found. A buddy got a nice bag full (OK, so it was a small bag) Wednesday in Reno County. Some in eastern Kansas have said it’s one of the best morel springs they’ve had in many years. Closer to Wichita, some are saying it’s been on or their worst. I guess the timing of the rains had a lot to do with it.
Speaking of the rains, and the storms that brought them, it appears roofs and windows weren’t the only things that took a real beating from hail over the past couple of weeks. A buddy found eight pelicans dead, or severely injured, on his property in Reno County. The quarter-section of land has been hit hard by at least two storms. Barry Jones, of the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, found the report to be believable and reminded me of a time a few years ago when storms killed more than 100 sandhill cranes at the refuge. As Barry pointed out, there’s no waste in nature and the carcasses get scavenged up pretty quickly.
Friends in western Kansas say if they don’t get some significant rain, soon, the wheat and pheasant crops will probably both be a bust. That would be a shame, since last year’s crop of birds was improved from the previous two years. One more good hatch and numbers might climb to a “fair” population based on historical averages.
Sunday’s Outdoors page will have a feature on last weekend’s Kansas Herpetological Society’s spring field trip to the Smoky Hills north of Russell. More than 180 people, from seven states, participated. They found close to 2,000 reptiles and amphibians.
The page may also have a column on a particular kind of litter that’s become one of my pet peeves. I counted about 100 of them in a day’s driving going and coming from an assignment a few weeks ago. I liked it better before they existed.
Down the road I’ll probably be running a story written by Brent Frazee of the Kansas City Star, about a wounded veteran who has been helped along in healing process by making customized crappie jigs. It’s a neat Kansas story and I sometimes use Brent’s work when I’m on vacation or swamped at work.
I have two articles scheduled for the Eagle’s Perfect Summer tabloid, which comes out with the newspaper on Sunday, May 17. One article is on how to help a child catch their first fish. The other is my pick of the best hiking, biking and floating trails in Kansas. I hope to list my favorite in the entire state, and then another close to the Wichita area.
Michael is stressed about what should be the joyous process of shopping for a new puppy. Hank is still around, but he’s to the point where I don’t have to worry about hurting his feelings by bringing another Lab into the house. I’d long pledged not to get another pup until he was gone, but the thought of going through another hunting season without an active hunting dog was just too depressing. So that means I’m a bit late getting started, looking for a pup that will be old enough to do some hunting this fall and winter. Hank started on doves a few days shy of being five months old, and fetched about 200 over the next few weeks. The golden retrievers I had before him were about the same, which had them ready for some duck and pheasant hunting a few months later.
We’re particular when it comes to picking a pup, since buying a working dog is always the cheapest part of ever having one. Both parents must have passed a variety of health screenings that look for genetic faults. I prefer both to have had some hunt test experience to show how easily they can be trained. I also like a sizable Lab so it can handle big geese and turkeys with ease. A taller dog also comes in handy when working marshes and rivers. An extra two inches in height can get them more traction and save them from some tiring swims.
Kathy and I had agreed we want another black dog, but this time a female.
Well, I’m not quite finding the whole package anywhere. I’ve found a great breeding in Minnesota but they only have males left. Both parents have been highly successful at hunt tests and field trials. At this stage of my life, I don’t want a puppy with too much energy. I’ve trained “hot” dogs, and I’ve handled “hot dogs,” and I could do both again, but I really don’t want to at this stage of my life. There was a time when I wanted a dog that zipped straight out and back on a 200 yard blind retrieve. Now, it would be OK with me if they didn’t do it quite so quickly, if it also means they’ll be more calm at home and in the field.
I’ve found a good pup in North Dakota, too, but she’d be about 16 weeks old when I got her. The good side is that she’d have quite a few of the basics down, would be easier to house train and would be older for this fall’s seasons. The downside would be that I’d miss the bounding time and enjoyment of watching the first retrieve, first time she went swimming...and I just really like little puppies.
Adding to the stress is the nagging fact that at my age this might be the last serious hunting dog I get, assuming it lives 12 years or so. That makes it a big decision.
But who am I kidding? No matter what pup we get we’re going to love it, and chances are it’ll turn into a pretty decent hunting partner, too.