Michael Pearce

Rafters can’t handle the heat

The voyage of three friends trying to float an 18-foot yellow raft from central Kansas to where the Arkansas River meets the Mississippi River is over. The Tulsa World reports that Jordan Miller, the group’s leader, said they floated about 650 miles over a span of 63 days. That includes more than a week when they didn’t float so they could rest, or to let high water levels recede.

They stopped the float about 140 miles from their intended exit, where Miller had family near the confluence of the two legendary rivers. Miller told Kelly Bostian, the World’s outdoors writer, that the combination of the extreme heat, humidity and clouds of mosquitoes had taken the fun out of the float.

More updates

It was recently announced that a captive Texas whitetail deer has been diagnosed with chronic wasting disease. A few days later that number had increased to four from one facility. Only time will tell if animals shipped from that facility have spread the disease to other areas.

Some of the best fishing reports I’ve heard of lately have been for wipers at Marion and El Dorado reservoirs. The best fish to my knowledge was more than 30-inches long and came from El Dorado. Water is again being released from the lake, as it was before a man drowned downstream several weeks ago. Closing the gates lowers the river’s level and makes the search easier.

Channel catfish continue to bite pretty well in a number of places, too.

Things continue to look promising for this fall and winter's hunting seasons. Good to great reports come from people seeing young pheasants and quail. I've heard from several people who haven't owned a bird dog in years, but they're hoping to start pups this year.

It's surprising that there are some pretty good dove reports, too. Most years when there's enough rain to help pheasant and quail populations, dove nesting suffers. Their nests aren't much more than a handful of twigs in a tree or on the ground. The small birds are susceptible to cold and rain.

Several people, myself included, have seen some sizable flocks of doves gathered on gravel roads in the morning. Normally that's just several broods that have gathered together near a good food or water source. It doesn't necessarily mean they'll be migrating early this year.

Don't forget the Midwest Huntfest runs Friday afternoon through Sunday at Century II. I'll probably have a booth at the show to sell books. If you attend the show, please stop by for a visit.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday's Outdoors page will have a feature on Mike George, an eastern Kansas fly-tier who lcreates world-class bass poppers tied from dyed deer hair. Few of his creations ever see water or fish though, as they're used in competitions or sold to collectors. George also sells some to raise funds to help honor a select group of soldiers with which he served in Vietnam.

The Outdoors page should also have a preview of next week's Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting near Great Bend. That will be the meeting where they set the waterfowl seasons and have discussions on raising most hunting and fishing fees, plus the possibility of changing the boundaries of some duck hunting zones.

A bit further down the road, I'm still gathering some short stories from those who remember the first time they saw a deer in Kansas. For some, like me, it's one of the most vivid memories of their childhood because it was such a big deal back then. I'm hoping to run several such remembrances with a column of my own first deer sighting.

I'm working on some blogs that include my concerns about setting duck seasons too late and a new Wildlife and Parks fisheries program to help create more fish habitat in our lakes. Unlike the old standbys of dropping in piles of cedar or hedge trees, these structures should be around for a long time.

Michael's world

Life is great, but very busy. I'm on a steady workout program that takes an hour or so a day, and also taking Cade, our Lab puppy, out for some work and training at daylight.

Kathy and I spent most of last weekend up at Overland Park with Jerrod, and his wife, Carilyn. The main purpose was to help celebrate her finishing her masters degree with a 4.0 grade point average, getting a good job in her field of counseling and her birthday. (Jerrod obviously has far more skills when it comes to finding a quality spouse than his mother ever did!) We picked up some rye bread at a bakery not far from their house. That loaf may have helped produce the best BLTs I’ve ever had in my life. (Yes, I realize I say that about some kind of BLT every year.)

I may end up mowing my lawn this year more than any other since we moved to Newton in 1993. No problem, it's good exercise. It also means I haven't had to water our garden much.

Speaking of the garden, we're doing fairly well on tomatoes but my jungle of green beans is only producing blooms though the vines now take up at least three times as much space as I ever intended. I have no clue why.

You know, August can have some insane heat, but it’s also one of my favorite months. Well, at least the last half of the month.

By then the days are getting short enough that the mornings and evenings can be pretty pleasant. The last week or so has had some gorgeous mornings. Now is also about the time the angle of the sun drops enough that the contrast between daylight and shadows makes it look like autumn, even if the evening is warm.

Cade turned four months old last week, and is starting to look more like a dog and less like a puppy. He has what seems to be an inexhaustible amount of desire for retrieving on land or water. His enthusiasm is now higher than ever.

This week I started working him on live pigeons. Their wing feathers have been clipped so they can’t fly away. Like most Labs he’s so tender-mouthed that we can use the birds over and over without hurting them.

I don’t know if it’s the smell of the birds, the flapping of the wings or the feel of warm feathers in his mouth, but something sure kicked some instincts in. He’s swam through, rather than around, some thick stands of smartweed to fetch a floating pigeon. He also spend a solid five minutes hunting for a bird that had wandered off in some thick cover.

It still amazes me, though, that rather than give in to the instinct of eating a bird that they find or catch, a hunting dog’s first instinct is to bring it to their person.

Often I wish people thought as much of other people as most dogs think of people. They should be training us, I guess.

Bests,

Michael Pearce

mpearce@wichitaeagle.com

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