Michael Pearce

Youth pheasant, quail season offers much, used by few

A reminder that this weekend is the youth season for pheasant and quail, one of the most under-utilized season in Kansas. Kids 16 and under are allowed to hunt the birds as long as they’re accompanied by an adult. The adult can not carry a gun.

It’s a great time for an adult wanting to work a dog before the regular season opens, and to get a kid in on a quality bird hunt. Most public areas, including walk-ins, should be holding good populations of both upland birds this fall.

Remember that limits are reduced to half of the regular season, meaning each youth can shoot no more than two rooster pheasants and and four quail, daily.

More updates

Next week’s big gathering of the North American Falconers Association in Hutchinson is coming together. As per Sunday’s article, the group is still seeking help finding places to hunt with their birds.

The annual deer rut seems to trickling along, with scattered reports of bucks chasing does. Still, I haven’t seen the numbers of road kills or fawns wandering without does that shows it’s going full steam. (Bucks run the fawns away from does they are pursuing.) This recent weather change could get things rolling strong, though. Get in the woods if you’re a bowhunter. Be careful on the highways whoever you are.)

Things are still looking good for the regular opening of pheasant and quail seasons. The timing of the milo harvest means most of those fields will be ready for hunting, with permission of course.

Duck hunters in the low plains late zone have done pretty well since the season opened last Saturday. Most groups are getting at least several birds per person, and are reporting the mallard flights seem to be a bit early this year.

Thursday evening brought reports of a pretty good migration of birds around the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms. There have been whooping cranes at Quivira for several weeks but that can change, so it’s smart to check their website before making the trip.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page will have a feature on Kansas’ K-9 game wardens. The more I learn about the dogs in the program, the more impressed I become.

I had no idea they could train a dog to detect a particular species of fish. For instance, they have a dog that will indicate a hidden walleye (sauger or saugeye) and ignore the scent of other species, like crappie or wipers. Danged impressive.

So is where the human game wardens get their dogs. Most come from animal shelters or are donated by families who can’t control a hard-charging dog. One of the program’s stars, Cooper, was once owned by a friend at work. She’s now contributed to solving some sizable poaching cases and has done more than 200 programs for schools, sports shows and other places.

The page will also have a column where I share some valuable advice with hunters for this fall and winter. It’s pretty direct and to the point, and I mean it sincerely.

I’m about finished with a sizable story, for another section of The Eagle, on the new project to remove about 3 million cubic yards of sediment from John Redmond Reservoir. That’s about the equivalent of about 250,000 dump truck loads of slimy, stinking mud, for comparison.

As a journalist, the real challenge has been coming up with photography to go with that feature story. I was at the lake once, and the state official I was supposed to interview and photograph didn’t show. It’s also early in the project so there’s not a lot of equipment being used up on the lake. Something will work out, it always does.

I’m also hoping to spend a half-day with some of the falconers in Kansas next week.

Michael’s world

Kathy and I stopped in the kitchen Monday evening and just looked at each other, as in “what do we do now?” We’d so gotten into watching the playoffs and the World Series that it felt kind of strange to not have games to anticipate and watch.

But, we were both danged sure screaming and jumping when the Royals won the World Series in extra innings on Sunday. Man, what a fun team to watch. They have no real super-stars, just a bunch of players who know their roles, play them near perfectly and always seemed to find a way to get things done at the end.

I always appreciate it when I see a sports team that strives on mastering the fundamentals of the game. Bill Snyder’s K-State Wildcats are usually that kind of team.

Jerrod, our son, works for a company that closed for the big parade and celebration in downtown Kansas City on Tuesday. The photos showing how many people were there are so cool to look at it. So are the ones that show there were no real problems after the championship was won- no burned cars, big fights, looting, clashes with police… That’s unlike when the San Francisco Giants won the pennant in 2014, and several other championship celebrations at other cities in the past.

Jake, my 13-year-old hunting buddy, and I had great bow hunt near El Dorado one evening earlier this week. We saw about a dozen deer, of which all but one eventually came within range. (We were hunting were several mowed farm trails converge to head to a popular crop field)

The no-show was a nice buck Jake would have been proud to tag for his first deer shot with a bow, but the buck had plans with a doe. Still, it was neat to see so many does and fawns up close. Jake did well, and the deer didn’t know he was anywhere around. Getting him out is one of my main goals for this fall.

The other goal is getting Cade, our wingnut seven-month-old Lab pup, out hunting as much as possible. So far, so good, as long as I don’t expect perfection. Sometimes I find myself expecting him to perform like Hank, the 14-year-old Lab that died in June. That’s not a fair comparison for a puppy, or most other retrievers. Cade will eventually make it.

I’ve never seen a retriever, of any age, so enjoy a good duck hunt. He heads out and back for a duck like a skipped rock, and not bird passes that he doesn’t lock in with his gaze, and I mean a serious stare.Even when we’re just walking around the marsh, he’s jumping up and down with excitement.

Remember Tigger in Winnie the Pooh?

That’s our dog, Cade.

With quite a few days of vacation yet to use, I’m really hoping to start taking off a few days every week so I don’t lose them at the end of the year. That’s hard to do in the fall and winter because there’s so much happening.

It helps greatly, though, that much of my time at this job seems like a vacation.


Michael Pearce