Michael Pearce

Wildlife and Parks trying to plan for possible state furlough

Michael Pearce

Outdoors

Ron Kaufman, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism director of Information Services is up to his eyeballs trying to get ready for a possible state employee furlough. The problem is, even after hours of investigating and trying to make some plans, he doesn’t know much.

“We don’t have anything really solidified so there’s not much we can really say,” said Kaufman, who said like most state agencies, Wildlife and Parks is waiting to hear what the governor’s office may, or may not, make immune to furloughs.

Even though they get very little money directly from the state, Wildlife and Parks would be required to honor a state furlough program because they have to have state approval for any budget expenditures.

More updates

High water has really messed with fishing at many lakes and reservoirs in Kansas, especially those east of Wichita. Several, including John Redmond, Toronto, Fall River and Elk City reservoirs ended up near, or past, 20 feet above normal conservation pool.

Some great strings of catfish were caught by anglers who fished the right places, on the rise. I’ve heard a report of some good catfish being caught on trotlines set in the flooded tree tops at John Redmond, but that all can change when the lakes start releasing a lot of water through their dams.

Too high of water at most lakes means a lot more anglers are heading to Coffey County Lake, better known as Wolf Creek, where water levels are managed and a lot more stable. Some weeks anglers have caught, and mostly released, 1,000 or more smallmouth bass at the lake near Burlington.

Optimism remains pretty high for this year’s pheasant hatch because of the rains, which bring more habitat for nesting hens and chicks. Much will depend on the timing of the wheat harvest. Generally, if the wheat harvest is two weeks or so later than normal, the survival rate of chicks hatched, or being raised, in those fields increases dramatically.

Upcoming coverage

Thursday’s Eagle has a feature story on how things are looking concerning mosquitoes for the rest of the spring and summer. You don’t need to have spent much time around the biting insects to expect their numbers to skyrocket after past rains.

Friday’s Eagle is scheduled to have a feature on this weekend’s free fishing days in Kansas, which basically makes everyone exempt from needing a fishing license on Saturday and Sunday. I’ve included some history on the free fishing weekends, and how fishing license sales have gone in Kansas over about the past 40 years.

The story also has some advice on where people who are just getting back into fishing, or going for the first time, might find some good action this weekend. There are some details on bests baits and how to rig them, too.

Sunday’s Outdoors page should have a feature on a unique fishing trip I had while on vacation in Kauai. We were fishing freshwater, and catching fish better known for living in the Ozarks and other places with clear, mountain streams - smallmouth bass.

Hopefully this weekend I’ll get to “research” an Emporia angler who said he needs to go no further than the Flint Hills to find some of the best fishing in the nation.

I’m also currently working on a feature on possibly the hottest new food birders are putting out in their back yards - grape jelly. It’s amazing how many Baltimore orioles will come to feed on the jelly in a given day. Hopefully we can get the photos and video in time for the story to run sometime next week.

Michael’s world

I hope we don’t have many more Mays like last month. We had the wedding, the vacation to Kauai, applying for elk permits, the new puppy...and none of it was cheap. But it’s all been fun. I’m still waiting to hear if I drew a cow elk permit for an Apache reservation. The hunt would probably be in December. It’s been nearly 10 years since we had much elk meet in our freezer. It’s about time for that streak to stop.

I’m still not sure how my vegetable garden is going to end up this summer. Our asparagus patch did well, though I think I need to fertilize it more in the summer, fall and late winter. The same for my horseradish, too.

I may have anywhere from none to 23 tomato plants produce this summer. Actually, the first 15 I planted went into some kind of shock. Some are coming out of it, some are not, and some are kind of stuck in limbo. I’ve planted another eight, to cover our bases. I guess we’ll see.

Obviously a lot of our time has been spent with Cade, or eight-week-old Lab puppy. The first night was pretty interesting, but things have been going pretty well, actually. There are always a few steps backwards, but I’m not sure I’ve worked with a puppy who learned faster, and often without actual training. He’s gone from being totally explosive at feeding time, to going to his crate and sitting until the bowl is put inside. OK, so maybe he does explode when he hits the food. He’s got a heck of a nose and a memory that’s probably better than mine. Of course, that’s not saying a lot these days.

I’m thinking he’ll be up and ready for dove season when it opens Sept. 1. Hopefully I can work him on some live pigeons between now and then. My main goal this fall and winter will be to get him out as much as possible. I think the first few weeks you have a puppy home are crucial towards its personality development. I think the first hunting season, before it is a year old, does a lot to define how the young dog will do as it matures into a hunter.

Ol’ Hank tolerates the pup pretty well, though he sleeps probably 23 hours of the day. Wednesday morning he didn’t finish his food for probably only the second time in his 14 years and two months. His end is near, and I hope he passes on his own but we’ll make the tough decision if we think it’s the best thing for him.

I’m hearing a lot of frustrations about the current legislative dealings up in Topeka, even more than over about the past few years concerning the state’s budget.

It’s really come to a head with talk of a possible furlough for state employees. A bad part is how many thousands of hours and dollars already swamped state workers have spent lately trying to get ready for the possible furloughs. It’s not like they have a lot of time and budget to spare.

Bests,

Michael Pearce

mpearce@wichitaeagle.com

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