Michael Pearce

Kansas fall turkey season opens, with changes

As it has for years, the Kansas fall turkey season opened Wednesday, Oct. 1. This fall’s hunt will have some changes compared to those of past years.

The biggest change is that the season limit has been reduced from four to one in most of the state’s six management units. Only in unit 2, in north-central Kansas, can hunters legally kill four birds of either sex this fall. Several other units allowed four per season through last season. The limit was dropped in response to lower spring success rates across the state the past few seasons.

In the past Jim Pitman, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism small game coordinator, has stated only a single-digit percentage of fall turkey hunters shoot up to four birds per season.

Kansas archery deer hunters have been facing some warmer than normal temperatures, difficulty in finding places to hunt on private land and an abundance of food this season that had scattered the deer. But it could be worse.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has voted to suspend the state’s archery deer season over a sizable area of northeastern Pennsylvania as law enforcement officials continue to search for fugitive Eric Frien. He’s wanted in connection with the Sept. 12 killing of a state trooper. Yourerie.com reports law enforcement sources say they’ve found explosive devices, of which at least one was attached to a trip wire, and other possibly dangerous materials in the area where they’re searching for Frein.

The ongoing lack of rain in southern Kansas has some people beginning to get a bit concerned. Water levels at most wetlands remain good, and ground water should rise after the trees drop their leaves and stop taking moisture through their roots. Still, this fall’s new crop of wheat could get a heck of a boost with some timely rains about now. Healthy wheat next spring, usually helps with pheasant production.

The national shortage of .22 ammo continues, despite the efforts of ammunition manufacturers to meet the demand. Some are producing the ammo around the clock and still can’t keep up. The problem is still shooters hording ammo, fearing it will someday be outlawed.

Sunday’s Outdoors page will have the details of what biologists are expecting for the Kansas pheasant and quail population this fall. The season for both begins on Nov. 8. It’s a mix of good news and bad news, but there is more hope than there’s been in about the past three or four seasons.

The Outdoors page may also have the announcement of the last twilight float of the year for the Arkansas River Coalition.

Down the road, I think we’re only a week or so away from finally unveiling the extra project many of us at The Eagle have been working on over most of the summer. It’s meant hundreds of extra combined hours for Sherry Chisenhall, our editor, Kirk Seminoff, our sports editor, Bo Rader, our senior photographer and me. It’s finally complete, and better than expected. I’m anxious to share the news and the product.

I’ll also be covering the increased equestrian and hiking opportunities at a state park not far from Wichita, though I don’t know if it will be for a future Outdoors page or another section of the newspaper.

I’m also hoping to do a feature on the serious shortage of game wardens in Kansas, and the assorted reasons why we have a hard time attracting good candidates and then keeping them in the state.

One of Kansas’ most successful trophy bowhunters has also given me permission to do a story and profile. He’s taken several Boone & Crockett bucks with archery gear, and not from areas known to have huge deer. One of the most interesting aspects to the article will be the national fame the same guy had for in a sport that’s about the total opposite of bowhunting. I’m pretty excited about this story, for sure.

So I look in Thursday’s morning newspaper and see that Gander Mountain has a big ad, which is always more appreciated more by me than Kathy. One of the things that caught my eye was that they’re selling boxes of Remington .22 ammo holding 525 rounds. It’s good ammo because it’s accurate in my rifle, and functions well in Kathy’s target handgun. Buyers would be limited to one box per person.

The store opened at 9 a.m. and I was there at 9:33 and was fortunate to get the last box. A sales clerk said they were only able to get 35 boxes of ammo for the advertised sale that goes for several more days. That’s going to pull in quite a few disappointed shooters.

I’ll be taking that box of ammo with me when I head to eastern Kansas over the weekend, to spend some time with friends Richard Hale and his daughter, Abby. Richard’s hunted over much of the world, and has some world-class trophies, such as giant grizzlies and elephants. But he also enjoys squirrel hunting. Abby is a high school senior, but this will be her first squirrel hunt, though she’s shot some deer in the past.

It’s strictly a pleasure trip for me. I image we’ll hunt a bit in the mornings, then spend the afternoons fishing the 20-acre lake in the Hale’s backyard. About a month ago I caught good numbers of 11-12-inch crappie there, and bass up to about four pounds, mostly on a fly rod. I’m taking along a pair of float tubes, with insulated waders, and hope to get Abby into a bass big enough to tow her around a bit.

It’s probably been 30 years since I’ve done such a blast and cast, which I used to do several times a year on our farm near Lawrence. Back then, I’d grab a few grasshoppers and fish them on just a gold hook with a tiny weight to slowly take them under the surface. The simplicity of it, and the cool weather, always made it enjoyable.

The response to last Sunday’s Outdoors page article that included picking paw paws has been pretty interesting. It’s surprising how many avid outdoorsmen and women didn’t know we have such a plant, and many have spent hundreds of days afield in eastern Kansas where paw paws probably grow. The 30 or so I brought to work went pretty quickly. Most agreed they taste like a sweet banana.

Wednesday evening I walked into our garden and picked a nice eggplant and a dozen small tomatoes. For dinner I sauteed the egg plant with some panko bread crumbs, and mixed together a simple marinara sauce with the tomatoes and then added ground venison browned with some onion. It was a good, satisfying meal.

As the garden fades, though, I’ll be bringing home more of a variety of meats. It’s a great time of the year.


Michael Pearce