Michael Pearce

Deadline for outdoors photos Friday, 5 p.m.

A late reminder that entrants for the Wichita Eagle’s Great Outdoors Photo Contest will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday. Entries can quickly be made online, or dropped off at the Eagle’s main entrance at 825. E. Douglas. That’s about a block west of Washington and Douglas.

Complete details can be found at kansas.com/outdoors. All who enter will have one free admission ticket to next week’s Wichita Sport Show. Tickets will be available at the show’s ticket window.

Friday afternoon staff photographers at The Wichita Eagle will select a group of 15 adult and five youth finalists. The public will then select the winners beginning Feb. 16 on Kansas.com and at the Sport Show on Feb. 18. Winners will be announced on the Eagle’s Outdoors page on Feb. 21.

Other updates

Speaking of the Sport Show, this is the second year the event is under local ownership. This is the 15th year The Eagle will have a booth at the show, to display the finalists for the photo contest and so I can visit with the public. We won’t be doing full-length cooking demonstrations, like last year, but I’m hoping to have some wild game samples from time to time.

I’ll also be selling our Taste of the Kansas Outdoors Cookbook at a special show rate of $10, tax included. That’s less than half of the regular retail price.

Fishing’s Future, a conservation group dedicated to getting more families into the outdoors and angling will be holding an instructor workshop next weekend in Emporia. It’s a fun class, and licensed instructors get to assist in a variety of organized fishing clinics. They’ll also be able to get equipment, and a list of possible volunteers, if they want to hold a clinic on their own.

Tests are still being finalized from recent deer seasons, but it looks like chronic wasting disease is becoming increasingly prevalent in northwest Kansas. I’m hoping to have an Outdoors page feature on the disease that is always fatal in deer, elk and moose but so far has not been passed to livestock or humans.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page should have a feature on changes going on in trapping, mainly because fur prices have been the lowest in the memory of most longtime trappers. It used to be people got in to trapping to make some extra money. Now, many are trapping things like raccoons in an effort to protect other kinds of wildlife.

Depending on space, I may have an Outdoors notes addition to the page, which is basically several very basic news items.

Possibly within the next week we could have a feature story in another portion of the Eagle on Christina Jones, a Wichita woman who has undergone a lot in the past several years to continue to enjoy the sport of archery, even after her doctor told her she had no choice but to give up both target shooting and bowhunting.

Also for the main part of the newspaper, we’re planning on several large features with great detail on how more Kansans can get out and participate in things like fishing, hiking, canoeing and kayaking and camping.

Michael’s world

About a month ago a small sign eventually lead me to a part of the online Outdoors page I’m really enjoying. I was passing through Moline, in Elk County, when a small sign pointed towards a swinging bridge. The bridge wasn’t too impressive, but I really liked walking up and looking at a series of small waterfalls above the bridge.

As I looked, I wondered how many people knew they existed. That was the start of “Where in the state of Kansas is Michael Pearce.” It will be a series of videos that are about a minute long, showing something I think is special in Kansas, with a few clues, and then seeing how many people know the location.

So far I’ve done three. Two of which, ironically, are on waterfalls. I have no set schedule for how often they’ll be put online. Those who follow me on Facebook will see links to them there, too.

The two weeks of February open to goose hunting are usually my favorite of the long season. I’ve been several times this month, but haven’t gotten into the big numbers of birds willing to decoy like the past several seasons. That could still change, though, since I saw quite a few geese migrating northward while out on assignment on Thursday.

Cade, our now 10-month-old Lab pup, hit sensory overload Saturday morning at Flint Oak. We were one of many handlers and dogs helping with a big European style pheasant hunt. It’s where the pen-raised birds are released to fly out over the gunners.

We did a small shoot about three weeks ago and all went well. Saturday there was just way too much of a good thing for the pup.

I’d requested we be stationed kind of by ourselves, where the action and view were both kind of limited. Instead, we ended up atop a hill where Cade could see birds flying and falling, and dogs making retrieves for well more than 100 yards. In his limited experience, he is alive to retrieve anything, but particularly birds. It didn’t help that he watched probably a dozen fall before one was dropped within the area we were working.

He got a lot of action, and only really tried to take off twice. At least even in the melee, I was able to stop him with the whistle and call him back to where he was supposed to be working. It’s hard to blame a dog for what’s basically just pure enthusiasm for what they’re bred to do.

We’re still planning on him spending a few months this spring with a trainer near Goddard. He needs to learn to not put things he’s retrieved down until told. He’ll also be introduced to a few other things. He should learn pretty quickly.

Cade, Jake (the boy I mentor) and friend and I will be seeing the end of goose season at a pond near Newton on Sunday’s closing day. It’s been holding a lot of geese, but the forecast low in the teens on Saturday morning has me more than a bit concerned that the lake will be covered in ice all weekend. Jake and I have ended goose seasons with some great hunts the past two seasons.

Hopefully this year will be the same.


Michael Pearce