Michael Pearce

Guiding on state land, waters, could be outlawed

Possibly as early as this fall, it may become illegal to guide hunters on state lands and wetlands in Kansas.

At Thursday’s Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting in Manhattan, Gerald Lauber, commission chairman, asked the agency to provide more details on the issue and to draft a regulation that could be brought to a vote after discussion at several meetings. Lauber did not guarantee such a regulation would be passed.

At the meeting Stuart Schrag, Wildlife and Parks public lands chief, said he has become concerned such activity is decreasing the quality of the outdoors experience for other hunters.

Tom Loats, of Overland Park, told of several negative experiences he’d had with guides at the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area near Great Bend.

Lauber and Schrag said they’d seen a increase of such complaints over the past year. Most concerned waterfowl hunting areas, though Lauber said he’d also gotten complaints about guides taking paying hunters to Walk In Hunting Areas.

“You’d have to be a pretty good salesman to get somebody to pay you to take them hunting on a Walk In Hunting Area,” said Lauber.

Schrag and Loats said their research showed guiding on public lands managed by the state is illegal in most states.

Chris Tymeson, Wildlife and Parks attorney, stated that the department could not regulate guiding on federally-owned areas, like Cheney Reservoir, but could where the state leases land or water from the federal government, like the Cheney Wildlife Area.

Other updates

Also at the commission meeting Lloyd Fox, big game program coordinator, said he’ll recommend the state stay with a framework similar to the deer season dates and bag limits for the 2015 seasons for the upcoming fall and winter seasons.

Earlier this week Theresa Vail, former Miss Kansas, plead guilty to a charge of illegally tagging a grizzly bear she shot in Alaska last year, according to the Associated Press. She was fined $750 and placed on one year of probation.

Vail has maintained she shot a boar grizzly, then accidentally shot a sow while trying to get another shot in to the first bear. The outfitter had a second permit flown in and placed on the dead sow. Vail illegally put the wrong date on that permit, which she said was done at the insistence of the guide.

She turned herself in to Alaska wildlife authorities a few days later. Vail has agreed to testify against the guide and outfitter, if requested, according to the article.

Quail hunting reports continue to be some of the best in the past 20 years. One Flint Hills hunter said he’s averaging about one covey per hour, with a borrowed dog. Further west, reports are even better.

Pheasant hunters who can find the right conditions, in the right parts of the state, are having good hunts, too. I’ve heard of limits being shot around Great Bend, in northwestern Kansas and even north of Garden City.

(I only mention limits on hunts to show bird numbers in that area. It’s not an endorsement that it takes a limit of birds to define a good hunting experience.)

As could be read on last Sunday’s Outdoors page, the first segment of the late zone duck season met with very mixed, and unpredictable, results. Even last weekend some people who went out expecting to find few ducks found themselves being swarmed. Many who thought they had a hot spot located were disappointed. Some of the best hunts were on reservoirs.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page feature will be on how technology is greatly helping Kansas’ war on feral swine. U.S. Department of Agriculture biologists are currently trying to control populations coming over the Oklahoma border roughly from about Independence to Cedar Vale.

They are also working on containing a population in Bourbon County, where some landowners want the hogs for their personal sport hunting.

Down the road I’m hoping to make it out for a quail and/or pheasant hunting story before those seasons end Jan. 31.

We’ll also be announcing our 2016 Great Outdoors Photo Contest in about two weeks, too.

Michael’s world

I now find myself with a bit more free time, and that’s kind of saddening. Wednesday we held a memorial service for Ray Adee, a good friend for about 23 years. I’d gotten to spend a lot of time with Ray and his wife, Barbara, the past 4 1/2 years as he battled prostate cancer.

He had a great run during his 92 years, which included 69 years of marriage and he’d been retired for more years than he’d worked in the corporate world as an engineer. Ray had more than 40 patents, all pertaining to agricultural machinery he’d designed.

More importantly, Ray was one of the happiest, most positive and friendly people I’d ever met. As deserved, he went without pain or loss of his mind when he died on Christmas Eve.

Neat guy. I’m really glad I got to know him.

My end of the first segment duck hunt about a week ago was one of my better for the season. Six of us got 26 ducks and two geese. Most of us got our limits of six ducks, each, and watched the others for a while. Mother Nature threw us a nasty curve when the wind blew from a different direction than when we arrived and what was in the forecast. That made it harder to see the ducks coming and more difficult for them to land within our decoy spread.

Cade, our Lab pup, had a good day and seems impervious to cold and ice if there are ducks in the air or floating on the water. He has no shortage of drive and listens well to my whistle commands. He can be charging towards a downed bird about as hard as any dog I’ve seen, then drop to an instant sit with just one tweet from my whistle.

The day before Ray’s funeral, which was mostly spent taking care of last minute preparations, Cade and I made about a 90 minute pheasant hunt near Newton. Cade flushed 16 pheasants, 14 of which were in easy range, but all were illegal hen birds. I guess the roosters kept running when the females decided to sit.

Cade sure doesn’t understand why I’m not shooting any of those brown hens for him to retrieve. Once, he paused, looked at me, then took off chasing a bird like, “Fine, I’ll do it myself.” I let him go about 20 yards before hitting the whistle.

Hopefully we’ll get enough snow sometime soon to help get the roosters to hold tighter in thick cover.

Bests,

Michael Pearce

mpearce@wichitaeagle.com

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