Outdoors photographers, pay attention. The 14th annual Wichita Eagle Great Outdoors Photo Contest will be part of the Jan. 29-Feb. 1 Wichita Sport Show next year. The sport show will be in its first year, and was started by locals when the Kansas Sport, Boat and Travel Show announced they would not be coming to Wichita after several decades of shows. That show was traditionally held in late February.
With the earlier days of the sport show, the entry deadlines have been pushed up about a month for this years photo contest. See the Dec. 28 Outdoors page for more details.
A reminder that most hunting and fishing licenses expire on Dec. 31, which includes prairie chicken and trout stamps. Beginning Monday all Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism licenses and stamps for 2015 went on sale. Turkey and deer permits are still valid during January seasons.
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Waterfowl hunting has been somewhat unpredictable, probably because of the early migrations because of severe cold in November and unseasonably warm weather, since. Sorry, I haven’t talked with many people who’ve been fishing.
Firearms deer season success was disappointing for most people I’ve visited with. Some had been bowhunting earlier in the fall and had been impressed with what they’d seen. Some said it was the slowest gun season they’ve experienced, and it was even slower than when the drought had hurt fawn crops several years ago.
Not a lot of rumors floating about of what outdoors-related bills maybe in the Kansas legislature in the upcoming session. Right now, coming up with budget cuts seems to be their top priority. Speaking of budget cuts, Wildlife and Parks officials said there’s no need to panic because Gov. Sam Brownback has requested $500,000 be pulled from lottery funds that go to the agency. Most go for state parks. A story will be coming on that request within the next few weeks.
Sunday’s Outdoors page will have a feature on Sid Sizemore, a retired soldier who was thrilled when his last assignment was to Fort Riley. He retired to the Abilene area for two reasons – pheasants and quail. Hunting behind his German shorthaired pointers, the Indiana native annually does well on pheasant and quail amid lands he owns, private lands where he has permission to hunt and on some public areas, too.
We’ll be announcing the Great Outdoors Photo Contest on Dec. 28. I’ll probably have a year in review, either with photos or short, written blocks of text on the top four or five topics for another article on that page.
Off the outdoors beat, a bit, sometime soon after Christmas we should be publishing an article I did on Courtney’s Place, a danged-fine Italian restaurant in Toronto. That’s Toronto, Kan., by the way, a town so tiny it would would have to grow significantly to be considered a classic small town.
Once again, Christmas sneaked up on me. I think it’s because November and early December are so busy with hunting seasons and deadlines. The bad news is I’m having to hustle to make some deadlines. The good news is we’re only a few days from having family in Newton.
Saturday, Kathy and I are fixing dinner for some friends, Ray and Barbara Adee. It will be their 68th wedding anniversary, and a pre-Christmas celebration, too. Pat and Janet Post, friends from near Burns, will be there to help us celebrate, too. It’ll be fun, that’s for sure. I’ll be smoking a couple of hunks of pork (domestic) loin for the event.
I’ve really been enjoying the electric, digital smoker we bought a few months back. It’s pretty much idiot proof, and insulated well enough I can smoke in even the coldest outdoors temperatures. Jerrod will probably smoke a brisket for sometime over the holidays.
Speaking of Jerrod, we’ll be doing a pheasant hunt at Potter Creek Outfitters the morning of the 24th. It’s a controlled shooting area near Pretty Prairie, and is by far our best bet to get into quite a few birds with only a half day available to us. I think that will make ten days Jerrod and I have hunted together this fall, surely the most since one of his first years of college. It’s been great.
I recently got to spend a few hours in a goose pit with a first-time waterfowl hunter. Pat Do is a local orthopedic surgeon who got into hunting within the best several years. He brings an enthusiasm and appreciation that is so refreshing in these days when so many hunters, maybe even me, sometimes, just come to expect quick limits. Pat whiffed on the first three flocks, and all were well within range. We eventually figured out he was having some issues with his shotgun so I loaned him mime. (I don’t shoot until my guest has gotten at least bird, anytime I’m taking a beginner.)
Pat picked up my Benelli and promptly dropped a bird from the next flock. He ended up getting four big Canadas before he had to leave at around 9:20 a.m. I’m sure we’ll make it out a few more times this season. He really seemed to have a great time, and it’s a lot more fun to take people who are happy just to be there.
I bowhunted that evening. All the conditions were right. Squirrels and songbirds were active, which is always a good sign for deer. There was even a doe walking right under my tree stand when I arrived mid-afternoon. Nothing after that, though, as far as deer or turkeys. It’s been that kind of year for me, though, for bowhunting. I’ve seen fewer than normal, fewer than trail cameras show are in the area and only once decent buck while I was bowhunting. It’s just a timing, thing, I think. I just haven’t picked the right time, to be in the right place.
Several people have asked about Hank, my Lab that’s pushing 14 years old. I took him to a pond near Newton Saturday morning hoping for a few geese but ended up with four mallards. He had to use his nose to find two of them for me, and got pretty danged excited when he got to track one about 30 yards. He still knows when he’s done well, and he insisted on carrying the duck to where we were hiding.
I thought last year was going to be his last to hunt, because he’d slowed so much. This year he’s about 10 percent of what he was last year. Now he falls quite a bit but he always pulls himself right back up, keeps a smile on his face and his tail snapping. Since the limit is one bird for this fall’s turkey seasons, compared to four last year, I’ve been holding off taking him on a turkey hunt. They’re his favorite bird, by far.
I may spread some milo in a small corners of a few CRP fields near Newton, and take him out after pheasants when conditions are perfect. At best, he’ll be good for 10 minutes of actual hunting. We’ll make it work, as long as his tail is still wagging and he still follows me around the house when I’m dressed in hunting clothing.