Sports

Wildlife commission to vote on increased hunting/fishing fees

If Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism officials have their way, those hunting and fishing in Kansas will probably pay more for the privilege beginning in 2016.

Thursday, in Burlington, the agency will ask the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission to raise the costs of most hunting and fishing licenses and permits. At past commission meetings, Robin Jennison, department secretary, said some fees, like those on resident deer permits, haven’t increased in about 30 years. Hunting and fishing licenses haven’t had price increases since 2002.

If approved, the cost of such resident licenses would increase from about $18 to $25. Resident deer permits would increase from $30 to $40.

Non-resident deer hunters could get hardest of all with the combination of a deer permit and non-resident hunting license rising from about $385 to about $510. Estimates of what the price increases could bring to the department have been estimated at about $6 million. Jennison has said the department’s reserve funds have been dropping and they want to insure some popular programs, like public access programs.

More updates

Also at the meeting, commissioners will be asked to vote on any possible boundary changes to the Kansas duck zones. For about the past four years commissioners, sportsmen and department biologists have debated rather the southeast duck zone, in particular, should have its boundaries changed to accommodate the desires of the public. A boundary change would mean different opening and closing of seasons dates.

As the August commission meeting near Great Bend, the department wasn’t asking for any major changes to any of the state’s four duck hunting zones.

Fall fishing is running a little behind schedule, largely because warm air temperatures haven’t allowed water temperatures to fall. Ideally, most lake surface temperatures would be around 60 degrees by this time of the fall. Many are still in the upper 60s. A friend and I spent a few hours fishing at El Dorado Reservoir last week and caught four walleyes, though all were just under the 21-inch length limit.

Last weekend’s opening of the low plains early zone duck season saw mixed results. I talked with some who shot limits at Cheyenne Bottoms, but they were mostly hunters who had done a lot of scouting and weren’t afraid to slog the extra half-mile through muck to get to the best place.

The McPherson Valley Wetlands got a nice shot of new birds the day before the season opened, which certainly helped. I talked with Hal Kaina, a game warden who checked quite a few hunters there, and he said people probably averaged a bird or two. Hal also said most hunters were pretty upbeat, and understood the weather had been too warm to move many birds down and that the wetlands really needed a sizable shot of water. This week’s warm temperatures certainly hasn’t helped water levels at most state wetlands.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page will have a short article and, hopefully, a number of photos shot by Roy Wenzl, one of our reporters. Compared to guys like our Travis Heying or Bo Rader, Roy is about as close to being a professional photographer as I am a professional baseball player.

But Roy’s been bringing in a lot of “Hey, come look at this...” photography. To be honest, I’m envious of quite a few of Roy’s photos.

The neat thing is that everything he’s shooting, which are largely of plants, some wildlife, and wild scenes, have been done with his cell phone. Plus, he’s shooting them all at Chisholm Creek Park, right in the midst of Wichita. Some of the close ups he has of flowers and vibrant autumn leaves are more crisp and clear than anything I can shoot with my bigger equipment. It’s some impressive stuff. Hopefully it will get others motivated get out of the house at daylight, and go do the same.

I’ll also have an article on kansas.com/outdoors previewing next week’s Wildlife and Parks commission meeting in Burlington. It will probably only be online so we can have plenty of room for Roy’s photography. Plus, I’ve covered the main elements of this commission meeting several times in the past. I am, though, planning on the online story having more of a “reader friendly” format. You’ll have to click on to check it out.

Down the road I’m still trying to gather information for a story on some invasive grasses that are threatening the Kansas prairie, the wildlife life that lives within it and Kansas multi-million dollar cattle grazing industry. The more I dig into the subject, the more I discover I still need to learn for the article. It’s a pretty intimidating species of grasses.

Michael’s world

More of the same as per the last several weeks. I’m spending quite a bit of time with an ill friend, though getting hospice involved makes life much easier for both of us. It’s still amazing, to me, the kind of care those people give to the terminally ill.

Cade, our six-month-old Lab pup, is moving into some basic handling drills as we train. That means we’re giving him an introduction to hand signals and taking lines on distant retrieves. It’s been fun, and he learns pretty fast. I’ve pushed things a little too rapidly a few times, but when I backed up a few steps we’ve moved on eventually. He still has no shortage of enthusiasm.

Tuesday afternoon I worked him hard for about an hour, often on some long water retrieves. He’d act a bit tired as he brought the dummy back in, but as soon as he put it in my hand he was full of enthusiasm again. Cade can now jump up and look me in the eye, but at least he’s not jumping on me and his tush instantly hits the ground and stays when I give him one sharp blast on my whistle.

I’d really hoped to take him out a couple of times this week for some hunts up at The Wetlands, but assignments and helping my friends hasn’t even made that a consideration. Oh well, I have several weeks of vacation I need to use or lose. Hopefully I can find time to make that happen when there are some ducks and geese in the area.

Saturday my 13-year-old friend, Jake, and I put up a couple of pop-up blinds on some good deer spots in Reno and Stafford counties. I’m hoping we can sit in them a couple of times and make it out for the opening morning of the youth waterfowl season in that area on Oct. 24. Jake has several days off of school, and I’ve been trying to gear my deadlines around those days. We’ll see, but he’s very patient if I have to cancel one of our planned trips.

I’m still picking quite a few tomatoes, and my plants are still producing green beans though I’m done picking them for the year. Heck, we even had a fresh egg plant last week, which was great.

Well, I need to get back to researching invasive grasses.

Bests,

Michael Pearce

mpearce@wichitaeagle.com

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