Michael Pearce

Michael Pearce's weekly e-letter (Jan. 2)

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commission and staff biologists will discuss further details for upcoming fall and winter deer-hunting seasons on Thursday Lloyd Fox, Wildlife and Parks big game program coordinator, said further reducing the permits, and season days, allotted for the harvest of whitetail does will certainly be on the table.

Such specific permits were reduced over much of Kansas for the ongoing 2014-15 deer seasons, as was the special January season for antlerless whitetails. Neither were offered for Unit 18, in southwestern Kansas. Fox said deer populations appear to remain lower than liked across much of the state because of several years of drought and drought-related disease.

A reduction in non-resident deer permits may also be considered, following about 20 years of mostly steady increases. Check Sunday’s Outdoors page for more details about the topic, and the meeting.

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Statewide, it has continued to be a fairly perplexing waterfowl season of inconsistent action. Some think a lot of birds migrated through during early November ultra-cold weather. Others are blaming the mild weather that recently ended with the current Arctic blast. There have certainly been some bright spots.

Goose hunting has generally been much better than duck hunting, and I did get a photo of a great mallard hunt Tuesday morning on the Arkansas River, north of Wichita.

I’ve talked with several upland bird hunters who’ve had some nice trips afield for pheasants and quail, and some haven’t been too far from the Wichita area. The cold and snow should have improved their success.

Before this cold snap some anglers were doing pretty well on crappie at eastern Kansas reservoirs. A friend had caught his limit of 20 on 10 consecutive trips to Perry Reservoir. Another had fished Big Hill for a couple of hours on Monday and caught a dozen or so keepers.

Michael’s world

It’s been a heck of holiday season, for sure. We had Jerrod and his fiancee, Carilyn, home for about six days and Lindsey in from Los Angeles for all or parts of four days. It was fun, of course.

We ate a lot, and Jerrod smoked a brisket that may have been the best-tasting beef I’ve had. Seriously. He injected it with the right liquid, used a perfect rub, and collected some amazing au jus as it cooked in my smoker.

I was one of the few, and the seemingly unbalanced, who made it out for Wednesday’s closing afternoon of archery deer season. Twelve degrees feels a lot colder than it did 20 years ago, but that’s also when I’d have been more apt to be out walking for pheasants than sitting in a thin-walled ground blind.

My intentions heading out where to shoot a mature doe if one came within range. Well, two did but by then it was so late in the afternoon I’d decided I really didn’t want to stay out after dark taking care of the meat. So I watched, I shivered and hope I’ll be able to take what we need for meat during the January doe season.

Speaking of the doe season, my young friend Jake and I are headed to a friend’s ranch in Elk County to hopefully shoot some does Friday and Saturday.

While I’m looking for a lot of good to come from 2015, I’m pretty sure it’s going to bring some sorrow. Hank, my old Lab, is still slipping physically. He’s pushing 14, which is ancient for a dog that weighed 86 pounds in his prime. (He’s now up to 90.) I want to get him out and let him fetch a fall turkey one last time. I’m also hoping I can figure out a few short hunts where I can flush the pheasants and he can make the retrieve.

He’s been on several waterfowl hunts this season. Last season he was still a hunter. This season he’s pretty much just there, though his nose has saved us at least four birds.

I just realized a few days ago we’ve been hunting partners for about one-fourth of my life and that I’ve probably hunted more with him than any other dog, or person, in my life. Its been a great run, for sure.


Michael Pearce