Copies of The Wichita Eagle’s Taste of the Kansas Outdoors Cookbook will be selling for about half-price at Friday’s Haunted Food Truck event sponsored by the newspaper. The gathering that features about eight food trucks and ten Wichita Eagle journalists and celebrities will be in The Eagle’s south parking lot, which is just off Rock Island, between Douglas and Waterman. Rock Island is expected to be a one-way road, heading south from Douglas.
The books retail for $19.95, plus tax, but will be sold at the event for an all inclusive $10. I’ll be there to sign purchased books, if desired, and to talk about the outdoors with the public. Fellow staffers Beccy Tanner and Roy Wenzl will be on hand, selling and signing books they’ve authored, too.
The second-annual event encourages the public to come in Halloween costumes and will feature a variety of Halloween-themed events.
Other Wichita Eagle staff members on hand include publisher Roy Heatherly, Suzanne Perez Tobias, Denise Neil, Carrie Rengers, Annie Calovich and Gabriella Dunn.
Nov. 1 marks the opening of the annual trout season in Kansas, though the current drought may restrict where the fish will be stocked this year. Low water conditions are preventing stocking in El Dorado State Park, though fish may be added once some nearby repairs along the Walnut River are complete and water levels allowed to rise.
In Wichita, trout were stocked Thursday morning at KDOT East Lake, Vic’s Lake at Sedgwick County Park and in several pools in Slough Creek, also within the county park. Jessica Mounts, Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologist said it’s the best stocking conditions she’s had there in several years, though more water would be welcomed. Mounts also stocked the lake at the Dillon Nature Center, near Hutchinson.
Speaking of Hutchinson, the North American Falconry Association will be having their annual convention and field days there Nov. 8-14. An estimated 250 falconers are expected to come from across the nation and several foreign countries. Look for upcoming coverage via a blog and articles. There are ways the public can get involved, and watch everything from kestrels to golden eagles do what they were bred to do - hunt.
Duck reports are pretty mixed for Saturday’s opening of the low plains late zone duck season. Some are saying they saw more birds in the area two weeks ago than they are now. That could change, of course, with Friday’s colder weather. Some have noticed that some of the first flocks of migrant geese are beginning to show up.
That the milo harvest has rolled along nicely bodes well for upland bird hunters heading out in a few weeks for the pheasant and quail opener. Reports of both are still promising.
Sunday’s Outdoors page will, hopefully, have coverage of Saturday’s opening morning of duck season. Ideally I’d like to make the page mostly photography, but we’ll see how the ducks and light conditions cooperate. If not, I may do a column on just how much the month of November means to some of us. Personally, I’d trade July and August for even one more month like November in the calendar.
I’m still researching a story on the planned project to dredge 3 million cubic yards of silt out of John Redmond Reservoir, near Burlington. The price tag of $20 million will surely grab some attention with the current state of state budgets. Actually the project is being paid for my bonds issued over 15 years.
Nov. 8 I’m hoping to have an Outdoors page article with much more detail on the upcoming falconry event in Hutchinson. Sometime I should have one on what’s probably the most unique material I’ve ever seen used for making a deer hunting blind. It’s pretty creative, and danged comfortable, too.
I’d still like to do an article on the 30th anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program and what it’s meant for Kansas wildlife, birders and hunters. In some ways it’s the largest wildlife conservation project ever in the world. I’m glad I’ve gotten to experience it each and every one of those 30 years.
Saturday’s youth season for the low plains early duck zone found me helping a pair of boys on a pond in western Reno County. One was Jake, my 13-year-old friend I’ve been mentoring for about two years. The other was Landen, the son and grandson of two good friends.
To say the hunt was good would be a huge disservice to what we saw and experienced. Scouting the pond the afternoon before I estimated there were more than 1,500 ducks of assorted species on the pond. When we arrived the next morning the water was mostly empty, but the skies began to fill about ten minutes before shooting time. It’s probably the most sunrise flights I’ve ever seen on one place while hunting. I told the boys repeatedly to watch it all and let it soak in because they might not see anything like it again in their lives.
Both kids shot their limits of six. Jake started the day with a nice drake mallard and then a drake redhead, a bird he’d wanted to shoot for quite a while. Landen ended things with three great shots on drake mallards and a teal.
The combined take included mallards, teal, redheads, pintails, widgeon and gadwall. I still don’t understand how some hunters classify all but mallards as “trash ducks.” I’ve always enjoyed the variety of such early season hunts.
Cade, our wingnut of a Lab puppy, did pretty well. His eyes really widened when the big flocks were circling overhead just before daylight, and he about snapped his neck watching green-winged teal zip by only a yard or two above our heads. He struggled a bit with the size of the first mallard drake, but hit the next full speed and never slowed as he brought it back to shore.
Hank, our 14-year-old, super-calm Lab that died in June, used to sleep on a lot of waterfowl hunts and only wake up when it was time to work. I don’t think that will be the same with Cade. He loves looking up and watching birds, any kind of birds, fly by and just seems to want to know what’s going on all of the time. Even when we were picking up the decoys he was splashing around with us, or streaking up and down the pond bank carrying a stick or a dropped glove at full speed.
Thinking about it later, I realized the morning had to be about as good as life could get for a dog his age and breed. He had two boys, a big pond of splash-deep water, hundreds of ducks to watch and a dozen to fetch and...a box of donuts to share with the guys.
It was a heck of day for me, too, and I wasn’t even carrying a gun.