Michael Pearce

Huntfest ready for fourth year

Shawn Nielsen said the Midwest Huntfest keeps growing every year.

Aug. 7-9, the outdoors show will be held at Century II for the fourth consecutive year. Last year’s three-day event drew more than three times the attendance as the first event in 2012 when about 3,000 people attended the event. Nielsen owns the show.

Next week’s show is scheduled to have about 130 vendors with displays, and a seminar schedule that includes a Texas-based rattlesnake show, hunting dog training and quality deer management demonstrations. Nielsen said the number, and worth, of prizes to be given away this year are far above previous years. The top prize is a guided black bear hunt in Ontario.

You’ll be able to find more details about the Midwest Huntfest on Sunday’s Outdoors page in The Eagle and at kansas.com.

More updates

The top topic of conversation in the Kansas outdoors continues to be the shooting of a radio-collared lion in Zimbabwe, and the response on all kinds of media.

It’s been interesting that I’ve had three friends who have ties to the event. One has hunted with the professional hunter several times who was guiding Minnesotan Walt Palmer in Zimbabwe. Another had a hunt with the same safari outfitter booked for the next few weeks. That hunt got moved to South Africa. Another friend has hunted with Palmer quite a few times.

Fishing has been pretty good, when conditions are stable long enough. Catfish are going pretty good about everywhere and I’ve gotten some good reports on wipers, too.

To go along with the good to great reports I’ve gotten on the pheasant and quail hatch, are now reports that there’s going to extra-thick cover this year over most of Kansas. That will make hunting tougher for dogs and human hunters. Since it’s usually rain that brings good pheasant production, and good quail brood survival, it’s hard to have one without the other.

Few are complaining about the cover, though, since the bird populations look so solid, especially since the pheasant population was so low a few years ago.

Upcoming coverage

Saturday or Sunday I may have a feature on Sand Hills State Park on The Eagle’s front page or the front of the second section. That could change if some hot news happens, and is more deserving of the space.

Sunday’s Outdoors page should have more details on the Midwest Huntfest. I’ll also probably have a column on my concerns that future duck seasons are going to be set too late in some parts of Kansas. I’ll be pointing out that duck populations and migration times are different in the Arkansas River Valley than most of Kansas. Ponds, marshes, creeks and river are also just naturally more shallow, too.

Down the road, in honor of this being the 50th anniversary of the first deer season in Kansas, I’ll be running a column on how well I remember the first time I saw deer in Kansas. By the way, that was 50 years ago this September or October.

I’m also looking at running a collection of memories other Kansans have of the first time they saw a deer in the state. I’ve talked with several people who, like me, say they can still recall every detail, from the way the morning sunlight was hitting the field to the sound of a whitetail doe bounding away through a pheasant covert.

If you have a memory you’d like to share, please send it to mpearce@wichitaeagle.com. We’re also looking for people who can share their experiences with any of the tick-borne illnesses, too.

The August 20 Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting will be covered. I have plans for an article on one of Kansas most unique wildlife-related artists and a catfisherman who brews his own bait. Yes, he’s sharing the ingredients and none of them really stink.

Michael’s world

I continue to get comments about the column we ran Sunday about the lion story coming out of Zimbabwe. Basically, I said I was really wanting to see some solid facts, and an explanation of why it seems some seem to value animals more than people.

Some responses have been pretty supportive and some have been pretty condemning. That’s fine, that’s their right, of course.

I look at the event as a hunter, but probably even more so as a journalist. Some of the articles I’ve read lately have been more balanced than some that came out about a week ago. One of the most interesting I’ve read was an opinion editorial published in the New York Times, “We don’t cry for lions,” by a Zimbabwe native going to college in the U.S.

My personal opinion remains the same. If Palmer, his guide and/or the landowner broke the law they deserve to be punished in accordance with Zimbabwe law for lion poaching. No more, no less. If they are found innocent or even after they pay their debts if found guilty, I wonder what impact all of this negative social media attention will do to their lives in the future.

Man, hard to believe we start the fall hunting seasons in less than four weeks. Most of my summer has gone to training Cade, our Lab puppy that turned four months old on Wednesday. That means I’ve done very little to get ready for deer seasons as per setting or checking treestands, picking places for pop-up blinds or even scouting to see what crops have been planted, where.

I’m not too worried, though, because I’ll spend more time getting Cade into doves, ducks and pheasants than hunting deer. The first year, I think, carries a huge importance for training and getting a young dog enthused about hunting. That’s one reason why I’ve booked a hunt for a cow elk in December, in New Mexico, to hopefully make sure we still go into the winter with a freezer of meat.

Earlier this week we had our first BLTs of the year with fresh tomatoes from our garden. I limit myself to just two, but I’m sure I could easily eat three and possibly four per meal. It’s just such a magical combination of flavors.

My squash plants got taken out by squash bugs when I was gone a few days. Their timing couldnt’ have been any worse, since I usually check our plants for them daily.

I’ve picked a whopping five green beans from what is surely the most impressive stand of bushes and vines we’ve ever had. We have green plants climbing up an eight-foot trellis on the side of our shed, and along most of the fencing that surrounds our garden. Even about half of our tomato cages have bean runners, unless I’ve severed the bean vine.

We have hundreds of blooms, but most just turn into more growth on the vines.

If even a small percent of all those blooms turn into beans I could be picking them by the five-gallon bucket. That would be a nice problem to have.


Michael Pearce