Michael Pearce

Youth shooting program slated for Council Grove

Registrations are being accepted the the 12th annual Council Grove Youth Event, to be held Oct. 24 at Council Grove Reservoir.

The Chisholm Trail Safari Club, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are part of about six groups that sponsor the event.

Instructors will help kids 11 to 16 learn about shotgun and archery shooting, and all kinds of shooting safety. The event is free, and all ammunition, firearms and archery gear is provided.

For more information, and to register, contact Brent Konen at 620-767-5900.

More updates

Saturday’s opening of the low plains early duck zone probably won’t be as good as others in recent years. Marsh conditions continue to dwindle at places like Cheyenne Bottoms and the McPherson Valley Wetlands.

As of midweek, duck numbers weren’t very strong at the popular areas, either. It’s possible the cold front that passed through recently could have brought more birds down from up north, though.

Fall fishing has been pretty decent for walleyes and wipers at a number of lakes and reservoirs. Bass are going where there are good populations, too. The most impressive fish I’ve heard of is a 10-plus pound walleye caught at El Dorado Reservoir.

Much of Kansas could really use some rain, especially to get the wheat crop up and growing. As goes the wheat crop this fall and winter, so will probably will go next spring’s pheasant hatch.

If there is a positive to drier conditions it is that the milo harvest is going pretty well in most areas. Ideally they’ll finish up soon so hunters can access those fields when pheasant and quail seasons open.

It’s also the time of the year when we should start getting steady reports of sandhill cranes at places like the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.

Some deer have been shot recently by bowhunters, but most have been does.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page feature will be about a trip to Melvern Reservoir Thursday morning, fishing for smallmouth bass. Fish normally found in the colder waters of the northern U.S. and Canada, smallies can really get active in the fall.

I’m working on a feature story on some invasive grasses that have ranchers and wildlife experts agreeing that something needs to be done. Both say they’d rather deal with sericea lespedeza than these grasses from eastern Europe. Since I learned to identify the plants, I’m shocked (and alarmed) at how common they are in central Kansas.

I’ll also be doing a story on the 30th anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program, and what it’s meant to wildlife in Kansas and other parts of America.

Another story will focus on the state’s desire to draw more attention to Cheyenne Bottoms.

I’m trying to get things lined up to cover the opening of one of the duck seasons. Things are looking like I’ll be tagging along with a great group for the pheasant and quail opener.

Oh, next weekend I’ll have a preview of the Oct. 22 Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting in Burlington. They’ll be voting on boundaries for duck zones, and possible hunting and fishing fee increases.

Michael’s world

I apologize for missing the past two newsletters. Life’s been hectic lately as I help an elderly friend. We’ve been fighting his prostate cancer for 4 1/2 years, and now things have started to get pretty serious.

He was in the hospital for two weeks, is stronger now and has hospice involved. This is my fourth run with a hospice, and I could never say enough great things about these people. We know my friend’s future is limited, but hospice will make it as enjoyable as possible.

Anyway, with those angels involved I should be able to find more than enough time to get caught-up on work.

Kathy and I have recently entered the meat grinder experience known as vehicle shopping. I hate to admit it, but I’m shopping for another pickup.

Ol’ Red has been in the family for 18 years, and carries more than 300,000 mostly trouble-free miles. The four-wheel-drive continues to get me out of places where I never should have been in the first place.

I wouldn’t hesitate to drive the ’95 F150 to the Rocky Mountains on an elk hunt, or to south Texas to hunt hogs or catch big redfish.

But I can’t afford to be stranded this winter if I get a call that I’m needed quickly in Newton.

We’ve done our research, talked with some trusted mechanics, and know what we want in terms of make, model, motor, years and price.

But for some reason those selling pickups can’t quite get that straight. One guy in northern Oklahoma keeps forgetting to send photos of a F150, and dances around the question of which motor is in the pickup.

Locally, a salesman found out what I was looking for from a friend, and he continues to send me information on what I’m not wanting. That includes new trucks, which are “only” $10,000 more, not including taxes and insurance.

Ideally I’d like to be in a different rig by November 1, for when I get to, hopefully, start taking some vacation days out of town on deer, duck and pheasant hunts.

Things are stacking up to be a pretty good year for all of the above, and Cade, our Lab puppy, is still progressing nicely in the field.

Hopefully things will align so I can get him out often.

Another high priority is getting Jake, my 13-year-old hunting buddy, a shot at a buck, any buck, with his bow this fall. We spent much of last Saturday letting him shoot from a treestand and putting up another ladderstand on an alternative travel route bigger bucks might be using. He is drawing 40 pounds, and is shooting pretty well, as long as he remembers to use the right pin sight. (Most longtime bowhunters have made that mistake, sending an arrow over or under an animal we’ve waited days to see within range.)

Ideally I’d like to wait until the last few days of October for get him out, so we don’t contaminate the area with our scent and to let the first stages of the rut get rolling.

Every ime I look at one stand I remember the first time we sat in it. Jake was using a crossbow and a small buck came down the trail. The kid was shaking so bad I could feel the cedar tree moving. I kept hissing at him to hold still, and he kept pulling on his face mask and turning his head to tell me he was holding still.

Fun memories.

Last weekend was the two year anniversary of when we first met. The kid’s learned more about the outdoors in those two years than probably did the first 20 I was hunting and fishing.

It’s been fun.

Bests,

Michael Pearce

mpearce@wichitaeagle.com

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