Annual turkey hunt to draw 83 hunters to El Dorado

One of the biggest names in outdoors television, and the hunting industry, will be back in El Dorado on Wednesday.

“He said, last year, he had such a good time he was going to come back, and he is,” Janet Post, Kansas Governor’s Hunt director, said of Michael Waddell. “It’s been kind of up in the air until just recently. We’re thrilled to have him, again.”

Waddell broke into outdoors television as a cameraman for Realtree, and worked his way up to hosting several programs, including those in the popular “Bone Collector” series and line of hunting products. The Georgia native, who prides himself on not changing with fame, was a crowd favorite at last year’s event. Hunting with guide Pat Post, Waddell shot both of his turkeys early the first morning, then shared an early morning breakfast with 90-plus year-old rancher Pat Sauble. Waddell called in turkeys for kids later in the hunt and rated it as one of his best turkey hunting experiences.

Post is expecting 82 other hunters at this year’s hunt, which runs Wednesday through Friday. The guest list includes many past shooters and several at the event for the first time. Seven of the hunters will be youth who earned their spot through an essay competition.

A major purpose of the hunt is to raise funds for college scholarships for Kansas students wanting to pursue a career in the outdoors. It’s also to showcase El Dorado, and the many things that Kansas has to offer in the outdoors.

This year the public is invited on Thursday and Friday to the Butler Community Center, 206 N. Griffith, to visit with the hunters, their local guides and see turkeys weighed and measured. Lunch will be served, for $5, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.. Birds will be weighed from about 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on Thursday and until 5 p.m. on Friday.

Friday evening, the One Shot Banquet and fundraising auction will be from 6-10 p.m. at the Butler Community College Hubbard Welcome Center, 901 S. Haverhill. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by calling 316-321-3835.

Turkey permit reminder

Turkey hunters are reminded they can no longer buy and print turkey permits online. The change was done at the request of Kansas game wardens, who feared some people were making illegal copies of the tags they put on deer and turkeys.

The public hasn’t been completely supportive of the change.

“We’ve had lots of complaints. It’s not a popular situation that they now have to go to a vendor or order their permit by phone,” said Mike Miller, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism information chief. “To a lot of people, it’s a step backwards in their minds.”

Compounding the situation is that the agency doesn’t have a large phone bank at any offices, causing long times on hold. He recommends people call department headquarters at 620-672-5911 or a 800-918-2877. Permits will then be mailed to the hunter.

Miller’s recommendation is for hunters to go buy their turkey permits directly from a license vendor, which includes most sporting goods stores or departments, state parks and county clerks. Permits can be printed at those outlets, and are valid for hunting the same day.

Miller said Wildlife and Parks has about worked through a long-lasting problem that initially left all 600-plus vendors unable to sell permits and licenses. It began when the agency shut down the system for a few days in mid-February to improve their system. All vendors were expected to be back up on Feb. 22. Hundreds were unable to sell for several weeks.

“The last I heard, over 400 of our vendors are finally up and selling,” said Miller. “I don’t think we’re at 100 percent yet, but we’re getting there.”