Michael Pearce

Entries sought for Great Outdoors Photo contest

Mike Scheufler shot this sunrise at Clinton Lake and it was the adult winner of the 2015 Great Outdoors Photo Contest.
Mike Scheufler shot this sunrise at Clinton Lake and it was the adult winner of the 2015 Great Outdoors Photo Contest. Courtesy photo

For the 15th year, the Wichita Eagle is asking the public to send in photos for the Great Outdoors Photo Contest.

This year’s entries will be accepted through 5 p.m. Feb. 12. Adult and youth, 16 and under, divisions are accepting photos that portray the beauty and/or enjoyment of the great outdoors. Photos do not have to have been taken in Kansas, or during the past year.

Photographers at The Eagle will again narrow field to their pick of the top 15 adult and 5 youth finalists. The public will vote on the finalists at kansas.com beginning Feb. 16 and the Wichita Sport Show, Feb. 18-20. Winners will be announced on the Eagle’s Outdoors page on Feb. 21.

All who enter the contest will have one free admission ticket waiting at the ticket window at the Sport Show.

As well as specifics for entering the contest, clicking on this link will give viewers a chance to see some of the top photos entered in past years.

More updates

I know it’s sounding like a broken record, but there are still quite a few great reports coming from pheasant and quail hunters. One friend who routinely hunts the sandhill country near the Arkansas River in western Kansas moved 68 different coveys last week. No, that’s not a typo. On Monday he and some friends found 16 coveys. It’s all on private land, of course, and the properties have great wildlife habitat.

I’m not getting many positive reports as per local duck populations for when the late zone duck season reopens on Saturday and runs through the end of the month. A few warm days, though, and that could change in a hurry.

Sorry, I don’t have much for fishing reports, though I’ve gotten some nice reports of fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass at Coffey County Lake, right where the Wolf Creek nuclear plant empties warm water into the cooling lake. People have also caught some nice blue catfish at the lake, too. The best I’ve heard of is a tad more than 50 pounds.

An interesting part is that most of the blue cats are being caught in 60 feet of water, or deeper. Anglers catching them say they have to reel the fish up at a snail’s pace to keep the pressure from killing the fish.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page will have the print announcement of the Great Outdoors Photo Contest, and a feature on a local archery shop moving to a new location so it can better attract more than just local archers. Ryan Barkdull, Diamond Archery owner, hopes the added space of moving to a larger building, on three acres of land, near 26th N. and Greenwich, will help attract national shoots to Wichita. He’s also hoping the expanded space will get more local bowhunters and families of target archers to come to his facility.

On Jan. 31 I’ll be giving a final salute to the upland bird hunting seasons with a full page feature on quail. For the story I’ll have photos and text from a bobwhite hunt in eastern Kansas and a hunt for scaled quail way out in western Kansas. The latter is a trip I’ve wanted to make since coming to The Eagle full time 15 years ago. I finally found a good contact.

Further down the road we’re planning a sizable story on the hiking trails of Kansas. Most people, including many in the tourism field, don’t realize we have more than 2,000 miles of trails in the state. Some are considered some of the best of their kind in the nation.

We’re still planning on a super-sized feature on tick borne illnesses, too. The more we get into the subject, the more complex and serious it seems. As well as hard to get diagnosed, it is very difficult to get an insurance company to pay for any treatment. I’ve talked with the family of a psychiatrist that had to get loans. One Kansan is paying around $80,000 for special treatments that take eight weeks from start to stop.

Michael’s world

I keep hoping we’ll get some snow so I can experience a classic late-season pheasant hunt with Cade, our new Lab. According to the forecast it’s not going to happen, though. I do have some feelers out for a potential hunting spot north of Salina, where they got at least four inches since yesterday.

We had some decent hunts last weekend, finding several coveys of quail and quite a few pheasants. I’m shooting pretty well, except for on cloudy days it gets hard for me to see brown quail against a dull background. Is it just me, or do others think quail seem to fly faster and faster every year? Surely it’s not because my reflexes are getting slower, is it?

I squeezed in an archery hunt for turkeys on a recent afternoon. I think the windchill was about 19 degrees, but at least I was sitting in a pop-up blind and only had to wait a couple of hours before a flock of three toms and about a dozen jakes came into the wheat field, then came straight to a strutting tom decoy with a submissive fake jake a few inches away. The landowner had requested I not shoot any big birds, as he wanted them left for when he has guests in the spring, so I shot a jake.

It didn’t go far, and I knew it was down a few yards into the woods by the way the other turkeys headed over there and started flogging something. There is no caring for the less fortunate in the wild turkey world. Once one goes down, the others try to make sure it stays that way.

Still, I went to the truck and got Cade so he could trail up the bird and make a retrieve, which he did. Then, he ran to the creek and took a literal flying leap out into the icy waters and swam around for a few minutes. I still don’t have a clue if this Lab feels cold, or not.


Michael Pearce