Michael Pearce

Conservation groups host pheasant, quail workshops March 14, in Wichita.

Pheasant and quail biologists will lead workshops open to the public March 14, in Wichita.
Pheasant and quail biologists will lead workshops open to the public March 14, in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle

On March 14 some of Kansas’, and America’s, top experts on pheasant and bobwhite quail will be in Wichita to share their knowledge. It’s all part of the Kansas Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever annual state convention, according to Steve Riley, a regional director for both conservation groups.

Riley, a native Kansan, said the educational seminars will be held between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the Wichita Marriott, 9100 E. Corporate Drive.

Educational topics include the current status of both gamebirds in Kansas and possible projections for the future. Habitat programs specific to Kansas will be covered thoroughly as will how to take advantage of the group’s nine full-time employees in Kansas assisting landowners, and concerned sportsmen, with creating better wildlife habitat.

Workshops will also discuss how the group’s biologists can help private individuals secure state and federal funding to help improve assorted kinds of habitat in Kansas. Biologists from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism will also be speaking. Riley is hoping the event will draw a variety of interest groups.

“We’re trying to bring together a diverse group of people, members, farmers and ranchers, conservation practitioners,” Riley said,“to help them get a better understanding of each others issues, too. There are so many within each group that really care about the same things when it comes to wildlife.”

Howard Vincent, chief executive officer for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, will be at the event.

Theresa Vail, former Miss Kansas and now an outdoors television show host and prominent hunter will also be speaking, Riley said.

A reception welcoming guests will be held the evening of March 13. The annual state fund-raising banquet will be held after the workshops on March 14.

To register, or get more information, go to http://www.kansaspfqf.org/ .

More updates

As well as Sunday’s Outdoors page article on cold weather trout fishing on Missouri’s Lake Taneycomo, Monday we published a blog about a few hours of fly-fishing I had on Taneycomo amid heavy snow and single-digit wind chills last Friday afternoon. The conditions were absolutely brutal.

On my way from the water I stopped to take a quick cell phone photo of three other anglers that were becoming increasingly frosted with snow by the minute. I really liked the photo, and it’s one of two with the blog.

Well, not long after the blog was posted I found out that two of the three were from Wichita. If you go to the photo, it’s behind the one of the trout and ice on the rod, you’ll see Wichitan Michael Price, left, and his son, Zac Price. They’re fishing with Michael’s cousin, Robert Price, of Bolivar, Mo.

I’d talked to the guys a bit about the fishing but we were all so cold nobody asked about hometowns, driving distances or how often we fished Tanycomo. The Prices, Zac later told me, go twice a year. I could stand that, for sure.

From what I’ve heard, most of the local whitetail bucks have dropped their antlers. As usual, most are being found in bedding areas and in wide-open feeding areas. One takes a lot of footwork and determined looking. The other can often be covered pretty quickly with an ATV, pick-up or from afar with binoculars.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page will mostly focus on pheasants. Yes, I know one season has been closed for several weeks and the next is many months in the future. But the way I see it, we’re kind of at a crossroads right now. Our populations have been the lowest in recorded history and conditions are gradually shifting enough that a comeback may be in sight.

The question is, just how big of a comeback might it be, even if the conditions are prime this spring and summer? While the drought has gotten a lot of blame, biologists also say the Midwest lost a lot of habitat the past few years as thousands of acres of Conservation Reserve Program grasses and native prairie grasses were put into cultivation.

One Kansas biologist, Jeff Prendergast, sees hope in a new kind of habitat that’s becoming increasingly common across Kansas farm landscapes. It’s pretty interesting stuff.

Sometime I will also have details about a field day being sponsored by the Quality Deer Management Association group from El Dorado. Their field day three years ago drew many people, and helped management on thousands of acres to be improved.

Down the road I’m hoping to do a feature on a research/fund raising project just south of the Kansas/Oklahoma border that’s helping a particular kind of fish more than pay for the research that’s going into keeping their populations strong.

I’m also gradually digging into a story on what I see as the scariest aspect of spending time outdoors - ticks. What I’m finding, has surely gotten my attention.

Michael’s World

Kathy and I enjoyed our week in the Ozarks last week. We had a great cabin within the Big Cedar Lodge complex and the cold and snow was ideal for what we really wanted to do - just relax and spend some time together. I, of course, went fishing three times. I also spread a lot of bird seed on the deck of the cabin so we could watch juncos, cardinals, blue jays, a few kinds of sparrows, house finches and one very bossy red-bellied woodpecker about any time we wanted. We had a great fireplace, unlimited firewood and we mostly cooked so we could save money and enjoy more time indoors.

The lowlight of my trip was the drive from Taneycomo back to our cabin last Friday afternoon. A truck had slid on the ice and blocked the road a few miles from the interstate I needed to access. That sent me back through Branson, where I ran in to much more of the same with cars off the road, entrance ramps closed and ice-packed streets. As well as hilly, many of the roads down there are banked, which added to the excitement since they were glazed. I had four white-knuckle experiences when I didn’t think I would probably end up in the ditch, or worse.

The ride home on Saturday was slow, especially since the Kansas highway department did very little to treat Highway 400 from Pittsburg to Leon. Twice we stopped more to relieve the stress than to get gas or to grab lunch.

We did, though, make it home in time to watch the last few minutes of the K-State comeback against Iowa State in Manhattan. Man, didn’t see that one coming.

I honestly hadn’t given upon KU against Texas on Saturday and not even against West Virginia in Lawrence on Tuesday. The Big 12 has seen some pretty impressive comebacks the past several seasons. Some have gone my way. Some have not.

Of course Kathy and I are thrilled KU got it’s 11th consecutive conference championship. When you think about it - the strength of the league year after year, how many times the Jayhawks have lost most of their starters from the previous season and how many young teams have taken the court - it really is amazing. As Jerrod pointed out, most of the KU freshmen were probably in the third grade when the streak started.

I’m not much of a fan of the Big 12 tournament, but I’m excited that we’re only a few weeks away from March Madness. KUs immaturity worries me. Wichita State’s solid guard play, and maturity, give me great hope for the Shockers. It will be fun to watch, for sure.

This weekend, I could be a big fan of some warmer weather so I can spend some more time getting my garden ready for spring plantings.

Bests,

Michael Pearce

mpearce@wichitaeagle.com

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