Michael Pearce

Special magazine issue dedicated to history of Kansas deer

Basically the entire Nov./Dec. issue of Kansas Wildlife and Parks magazine is dedicated “50 years of Deer,” celebrating a half-century of in-state deer hunting.

Mike Miller, information chief and magazine editor, said the amount of detail provided by biologists like Lloyd Fox is impressive and comprehensive.

Subscribers should get their issues within a few days. Single copies can be purchased by calling 620-672-5911, $2.75, which includes postage.

Other updates

Most reports from hunters out for the opening of pheasant and quail seasons have been positive. The most impressed came from a friend who hunted out west of Dodge City. Guys who could shoot even fair got their limits of pheasants on opening day. About every kind of cover they worked for pheasants also had some nice coveys of quail. It’s interesting that the worst report I got was from about 20 miles from that location, but the hunter said it was because the birds were concentrated in uncut milo, which was off limits to hunting.

You know, I’m always a bit apprehensive when I head out with a sizable group on opening day of pheasant season. It’s tough hunting with guys you don’t know, especially when there are 10 to 20 of them. In the past it seems we’ve never found birds in the numbers that the host had predicted.

But things really went well last Saturday, for the story I did on the hunt in Edwards County.From the time I drove down Main Street in Lewis, where a hunters breakfast was being held to raise money for a local Baptist Church, until I got in my truck and headed for a deadline at 2 p.m., story possibilities just kept coming to mind. The hunters were safe, friendly, safe, patient with my photo needs, safe and experienced. Did I mention we didn’t have any safety problems? Zero.

The annual deer rut seems to be inconsistent again this year. Some bowhunters aren’t seeing much activity and most people agree that we don’t’ seem to have the number of road kills we’ve had in the past. (Yes, I just tapped a pencil to “knock on wood” so I don’t hit a deer on my way home this evening.)

Upcoming coverage

Friday’s Wichita Eagle has a feature on Kansas’ $20 million project to remove 3 million tons of sediment from John Redmond Reservoir. The article is already up online.

Sunday’s Outdoors page should have a feature on Irl Palmer, a pheasant hunter I met last weekend who has been chasing Kansas roosters for about 70 years. He’s 91, has to be a blocker because he can’t walk very well, and loves every minute he’s afield. I hope I’m shooting as well as he does, now, when I’m 71, let alone 91. I’m also hoping to write about an interview with Lee Queal, the then Kansas Department of Forestry, Fish and Game biologist who helped setup Kansas first deer season back in 1965. That first season carried some controversy.

Down the road I plan on an Outdoors page feature about Khoua Thao, a deer hunter who has made one of the most impressive deer blinds I’ve ever seen. His attention to detail in the blind is amazing, but it’s nothing compared to what he decided to use as the main structure for his blind. He’s a neat guy, and there’s a great story behind him.

I’m still not totally sure what angle I’ll take for covering the opening of the firearms deer season this year. Any leads or ideas are certainly welcome.

Michael’s world

Sorry we didn’t have an Outdoors newsletter last week. I was trying to use a few days of vacation, though I ended up “working” the day we got to watch falcons hunting pheasants for the story that ran last Friday.

Our ducks hunts have mostly been fair to good this fall, but I’ve mostly been working Cade, our seven-month-old Lab pup. His only flaw continues to be wanting to break on the retrieve before I’m ready to release him from his place. It’s all a matter of too much excitement. The guy enjoys every aspect of the hunts. He’ll run around the decoys like a barrel racing horse as we place them. The first time he experienced frost he writhed and rolled and ran with his face on the grass for a solid 10 minutes or more. Cade’s somewhere north of 200 retrieves for this fall, so he’s well on his way.

Getting Jake, my 13-year-old hunting buddy, a deer with his archery gear has been my main goal as per bowhunting this fall. In fact,I’ve hunted once on my own. Jake and I have been in to deer every trip out, but it’s always does and fawns. The kid’s learning to hold tight, though, and not spook deer even when there are several within 10 yards of our tree. We’d really like for his first deer with his bow to be a buck so we’ve been holding out. That’s fine, too, because I’ve always wanted him to experience several hunts before he gets in on a kill. You can’t fully appreciate the latter until you’ve logged plenty of time with the former.

Oh, the trout stretch of the Walnut River at El Dorado State Park is being stocked. Last week someone caught a 23-inch rainbow from the pool that’s below the dam, and west of the swimming beach. Slough Creek, in Sedgwick County Park, has been getting stocked, too.

Last Friday his wife and I got a good friend admitted to a full-care facility in Newton. He’s been fighting cancer, valiantly, for 4 1/2 years and has been on Hospice for about a month. He’d been falling at home, which could be disastrous at his age and condition, and was struggling to get around. There’s no question he is getting better care where he is now, but I also know he’s one step closer to the inevitable. It seems day after day I can see he’s slipped more and more.

He’s 92, and has had a great run that’s included almost 69 years of marriage. Other than the cancer, he and his wife had enjoyed amazing health. He’s one of my best friends, and a real role model as per how having a great attitude can so improve your life. Since they have very little immediate family, we’ve included them in ours for many years. We’re hoping we can bring him to our house for Thanksgiving dinner next week, but recent changes indicate that probably won’t be happening.

We’ll see. If we have to we’ll take it to him, I guess, even if he’s not hungry. The fact that he and his wife will be with Kathy and me will mean more to all of us than the best tasting turkey on the planet.

Bests,

Michael Pearce

mpearce@wichitaeagle.com

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