It's time for the governor to go turkey hunting

Being governor has its perks.

For Gov. Mark Parkinson, it means he finally gets to go hunting. He's scheduled to participate in this week's Governor's turkey hunt in El Dorado.

"One of the real anomalies of life is I've lived in Kansas all my life and I've never been hunting," Parkinson said. "We own a farm full of pheasants and I wanted to hunt but never really had the opportunity."

Parkinson's interest in hunting began when he was young on the family farm near Scott City. His father quit hunting before Parkinson was old enough to carry a gun.

This week he'll be guided by Mike Hayden, Kansas Wildlife and Parks secretary. Hayden started the invitational hunt while governor in 1986.

Every Kansas governor since has participated while in office and shot a turkey, though several had to try several years.

That's not a luxury Parkinson will have. This will be his lone trip to the hunt as governor since he's not seeking election this fall.

He thinks he's ready.

"I've spent some time over the last couple of months working (on shooting and safety) with some highway patrolmen," Parkinson said. "I think I have a pretty decent chance at being successful. If this works out well, I plan on going out for some pheasant hunting this fall."

Parkinson is one of about 72 celebrities hunting at the event that runs Thursday through Saturday.

Attorney General Steve Six will be making his third trip to the hunt. He has been unsuccessful the past two years.

Other first-time celebrity hunters:

* Jacqueline Vietti, Butler Community College president.

* James Earl Kennamer, a South Carolina biologist with the National Wildlife Turkey Federation who's considered one of the nation's top authorities on wild turkeys.

* Keith Mark of Basehor is the host of MacMillan River Adventures, a hunting show on the Outdoor Channel.

* Addy York, 17, of Cookeville, Tenn., earned her spot in the hunt by winning a national writing contest sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation's Jakes program.

The public is welcome to watch the weigh-ins and measuring of birds from about 6:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on Friday and 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday at the Butler County Community Center, 200 W. Griffith in El Dorado.

Lunches will also be served at the center. Booths containing wildlife artwork and other hunting-related materials will also be available to the public.

Saturday's hunt banquet is also open to the public. The meal starts at about 6:30 p.m. at the El Dorado High, 401 McCollum. Tickets are $10. Call 316-321-3835 for tickets.