Probably the biggest name in the outdoors industry said he just had one of the best turkey hunting weekends of his life.
Michael Waddell, host of the “Bone Collector” television shows and line of hunting products came to the Kansas Governor’s Turkey Hunt last weekend in El Dorado. Janet Post, hunt director, said she’d been trying to get Waddell to come to the event for several years. He agreed to come to this year’s hunt only a few days before the event began last Thursday.
Waddell said he’d been trying to keep his schedule clear over the past year so he could come to the event. He drove up to the hunt, by himself, from Georgia leaving behind something that has been with him for years.
“I don’t have any cameras or camera crews,” he said at a mixer Thursday evening. “This is just going to be a fun turkey hunt.” Waddell was guided by Pat Post, Janet Post’s husband. He was one of the few guides available when Waddell announced he was coming just a few days before the hunt.
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Success, and fun, came quickly.
Not long after Friday’s sunrise ,Waddell, a championship turkey caller, called in two toms and shot them both to fill his permits. He later marveled at the beauty of the Chase County Flint Hills, and some of the people he met.
After getting his birds, Pat Post took Waddell to meet Pat Sauble, an iconic 94-year-old rancher known for a lively lifestyle through the years. For breakfast, he served Waddell a cinnamon roll and a beer.
“You just gotta love a place where you can shoot both of your turkeys and then enjoy a honey bun and a beer before 9 a.m.,” Waddell said. “I’ve loved Kansas since the first time I ever hunted here.”
The rest of the weekend Waddell helped Pat Post get birds for other people at the hunt. Waddell also called for McKaylee Nave, Post’s young granddaughter, when the 10-year-old shot her first bird, too.
Also on the Governor’s Hunt:
It was a rare time when three Kansas governors were in the field. They were Gov. Sam Brownback and past governors Bill Graves and Mike Hayden. All three shot nice toms. Brownback’s 18-year-old son, Mark, filled both of his permits at the event.
Former Wichita State basketball star Paul Miller also attended the hunt for the first time since his senior year with the Shockers. He, too, was one of more than 80 percent of the hunters who shot a mature gobbler.
Harvey County Parks officials are hoping a lot of anglers come to their west park and catch a lot of crappie this weekend.
And they don’t want any of the fish released in their second annual Crappiethon at the lake north of Halstead.
Stuart Scott, of the parks department, said the lake at West Park is overpopulated with crappie, and they’re using anglers as a way to thin their numbers. Caught crappie can be taken home and cleaned, or disposed of at the lake. The crappie are generally not large.
The event runs from 4 p.m. Friday through 2 p.m. on Sunday. Registrations can be made at the Lakeside Shelter. Anglers sign up to fish in two-person teams, one of which must be 18 or older. Prizes will be given to the three teams that catch the most crappie.
Thursday the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission is meeting at the Great Plains Nature Center from 1 to 5 p.m. in the afternoon and 6:30 p.m. until completion in the evening.
Topics for discussion or vote include changes in the state’s walleye length and creel limits, setting this fall’s waterfowl seasons and the probable ending of guiding hunters on state-owned or managed areas. Opinions on those, and non-agenda, items are welcome. The meeting can be seen live at ksoutdoors.com.
Turkey hunting reports are probably the strongest they’ve been during any season in the state’s history. A lot of birds have been shot, and most hunters report seeing good numbers of yearling jakes and 2-year-old toms.
Fishing is picking up for about all species as the weather stays consistent. One boat caught more than 80 fish, mostly wipers and white bass, trolling at Marion Reservoir this week. Some big walleye have been caught at places like El Dorado Reservoir, too. The crappie spawn is ongoing at many Kansas lakes and reservoirs.
Sunday’s Outdoors page will have a feature on Doug Meyer, a Wichita angler who specializes in catching wipers and smallmouth bass. He catches the fish wading, and using a fly rod, which can be entertaining and productive.
The Outdoors page will also have a report on Thursday’s Wildlife and Parks meeting at the Great Plains Nature Center.
Down the road I’m planning on doing a story on a popular summer camp that’s celebrating its 100th birthday, and a new program that welcomes entire families for summer camp trips. They offer more than the usual canoeing, swimming and archery.
Next week photographer Bo Rader and I are headed back to the Red Hills west of Medicine Lodge for a big announcement about wildlife habitat in the region.
I think I’ve made about 25 of the 30 Governor’s Turkey Hunts. All have been a lot of work. All have been a lot of fun and most have provided good material for an article. This one certainly did as I got to tag-along with first time hunter Lori Winningham of Butler Community College. It was the first time I’d gotten to be in the turkey woods with longtime friend John Moore, her guide. After I asked at the last hour, they literally squeezed me into a pop-up blind with them so I could cover their hunt.
Speaking of turkey hunts, I finally filled both of my permits Tuesday afternoon. After hitting the woods six times with my bow and having something go wrong on every hunt as per getting a bird, I took out Jerrod’s old youth model Remington 870 20 gauge as much for nostalgia as to get a bird. About 20 minutes into that hunt I was sitting against a nice hackberry tree with three gobbling toms coming down a farm trail, through mature woodlands.
I shot two of the birds, filling both of my permits from the same sit for the first time in Kansas. Before, I’d always limited myself to one bird to make my season last longer. On Tuesday it just felt so right carrying the little shotgun and because I’d already had six fun bowhunts. I still have some youth events to host in the coming weeks.
How about those recent rains? Man, I hope that pattern continues. Friends near Medicine Lodge have gotten about 5 inches of moisture since the fires went through that area about a month ago.
Bo Rader has had cameras set in that area shooting tim-lapse shots since a few days after the fires. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he gets.