Michael Pearce

Whooping cranes at Quivira could close area to hunting

That five whooping cranes made an appearance at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday morning is great news for birders, but not great news for waterfowl hunters. America’s tallest, and one of the most endangered, birds whoopers are highly popular with wildlife watchers.

When they’re on the refuge, however, Quivira is normally closed to all kinds of hunting. The area’s duck and goose season is scheduled to open Saturday morning. The rest of the low plains late zone will be open for hunting.

The staff at Quivira said they’ll continue to monitor the refuge for whooping cranes, and hopeful hunters are encouraged to call 620-486-2393 or go to www.fws.gov/quivira/ to learn if the area will be open for hunting this weekend.

Last fall, when the season opened a week earlier, whooping cranes showed up the afternoon of the opener, meaning hunters got a day of duck and goose hunting before the refuge was closed for several weeks.

MORE UPDATES

Motorists beware, the annual deer rut could begin any day. For signs that it’s ongoing, keep your eyes out for deer moving during daylight hours, road-kills, and also small deer wandering out in the open. When a doe is nearing estrous, a buck will chase this year’s fawns off. They’ll wander about for a few weeks then get back with their does.

The usual safe driving tips include being extra careful when driving at dawn and dusk and never assume only one animal will be crossing the road. Often a running doe is being chased by a running buck. Neither will probably be looking both ways before crossing any streets. Also keep in mind that during the rut deer can appear on about any highway or street, at any time. There have been roadkills within a few blocks of downtown Wichita as bucks keep pushing does as the does run in panic.

Not a lot of ducks and geese in the eastern half of Kansas, though they could change with the cold front that’s in the forecast for Friday.

This year’s fall foliage seems to be running a couple of weeks later than normal. The color doesn’t seem as brilliant as last year, either.

UPCOMING NEWS

Sunday’s Outdoors page will be based on a duck and goose hunt with some serious waterfowl hunters in northeast Kansas. Unlike in central Kansas, they don’t have the broad marsh systems to help attract and hold ducks and geese. We’ll see how they do.

I’m awaiting a call-back or two for a big feature story I’ve done on the shortage of game wardens in Kansas. Those who’ve left such jobs blame the stress of being understaffed and low pay with no sign of improvement in the future.

I still haven’t decided where I’ll be to cover the opening of pheasant and quail season, though I have some ideas. A relatively new decoy company in central Kansas is also on my radar as is the building of one of America’s best hunting lodges within an hour of Wichita.

MICHAEL’S WORLD

It looks like my Fourth of July tomatoes are going to be my Fourth of November tomatoes. Those plants are still producing tomatoes that are ripening, though their skins are getting hard and the flavor isn’t what it was like four months ago. Actually most of my tomato plants are producing, but no other breed of tomatoes are ripening. We’re still getting about one egg plant a week, too.

I really need to take a few hours off and get some vines pulled and my tomato cages stored away, but it’s a hard time of the year for me to work in the yard when I could be playing afield somewhere. Speaking of playing, I finally got to sneak out for a bowhunt Tuesday evening. It was a great hunt. I wrote about it for my most recent blog.

Since several people have asked lately, Hank, my 13 1/2-year-old Lab, is doing much better thanks to some new medication. His coat is looking better and he certainly has more energy and balance. I may take him on a few short duck hunts early in the season. At his age, the main thing is that he just wants be part of the pack and feel included. I completely understand.

I’m hoping to sit in a stand a few times this weekend on our farm near Lawrence. The primary purposes of the trip is to cover the opening of waterfowl season and to deliver one of our cookbooks to Brent Frazee, the Kansas City Star’s outdoors writer and photographer. We’ve been good friends for more than 30 years. I wish I could say we met back in kindergarten, but that wouldn’t be true.

Thanks to those who stopped by for our book signing at last Friday’s food truck event at The Eagle. I’ve heard back from some who have already tried a few recipes over the weekend. So far, so good as per reports.

We’re hoping to have some more book signings, and will share the when and where information as soon as we get things settled.

We have a new page for those who want more information on the cookbook. Go to www.kansas.com/cookbook.

Bests,

Michael Pearce

mpearce@wichitaeagle.com

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