Michael Pearce

Kansas turkey permits discounted through March 31

As they’ve been the past several years, prices for turkey permits, and the game tags that allow the taking of a second bird, are being sold at reduced rates through March 31. Wildlife and Parks offers the reduced rates hoping to get more hunters afield in the spring.

The special rate for a resident combination permit and tag is $37.50 for adults, and $12.50 for youth.

Such combination permits won’t be sold after March 31. April 1-May 31 the adult resident costs will be $27.50 for a permit and $17.50 for the second tag. Youth will pay $7.50 and $7.50, respectively.

Non-resident and resident landowner/tenant permits and tags are also sold at reduced rates through March.

More updates

Name a species of sport fish, and I’ve probably gotten some good reports for it within the past week. Some white bass are being caught in deep holes, getting ready to head up rivers to spawn. I’ve also had some good reports of people catching them, and wipers, off rocky points at several lakes. Anglers using waders seem to be doing best, making long casts with plastic swim baits.

Walleye and saugeye have been caught near several dams at area reservoirs. Some of the best catches have been taken by trollers working fairly deep water not far off the dam. Some catfishermen have been taking advantage of the new slot limit on blue cats at El Dorado, catching quite a few fish from about 18-24 inches.

Those worried if the warmer weather means the turkeys will be done gobbling and breeding by the start of the season can relax. That’s usually more triggered by length of day than weather conditions. Still, it seems the birds have mostly left their big wintering flocks. Thursday morning I saw two large toms with about a dozen hens, and another flock with three toms and five hens. There were also a few pairs and trios of two-year-old toms wandering around, too.

People looking for shed deer antlers are finding them, but say they’re still seeing bucks still wearing both antlers. They’re also saying the ticks seem even worse than normal, possibly because of the mild winter.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page feature will do with Lloyd Funk’s little side-business in Eureka. This will be the 37th year Funk has outfitted float trips down the Fall River, through the Fall River Wildlife Area. I tagged along Tuesday afternoon when Funk did an exploratory float to check conditions before he starts renting canoes, and running his shuttle service, April 1.

The Outdoors page should also have a preview of next week’s Wildlife and Parks Commission meeting in Topeka. It’s when the state will announce deer permit allotments for this fall. Waterfowl seasons and limits will also be discussed. Because of a change in federal regulations, state game agencies now must have all of their waterfowl seasons and limits set by the end of April. In the past it was the end of August. That means seasons will be set with no knowledge of this summer’s breeding success.

One of my projects next week will be to give the public an update on the shooting range being constructed by El Dorado State Park. Some people have expressed concerns about safety and other issues during the past few weeks. I’m still hoping to get a sizable feature out on the hiking trails in Kansas, and others on fishing and camping.

I’m also researching a story on the volunteer fire departments of Kansas, which protect about 95 percent of the state. Often those firemen are just regular farmers, ranchers, mechanics and welders, with not a lot of specialized training compared to full-time fire fighters.

Michael’s world

Here we go, March Madness is in full swing and so far, so good as per Wichita State and KU. I had mixed emotions on Baylor losing to Yale. Normally I pull for any Big 12 team to help make the conference look stronger. But, how do you not pull for a team that’s never won an NCAA tournament game and hasn’t beaten a ranked team in more than 60 years?

Thursday morning I spent my annual morning in a blind where a large flock of turkeys would fly-down from their roosts. I was settled in one of my pop-up blinds by abut 6:30 a.m., and the first gobbles came about 15 minutes later. Somehow I’d managed to walk right by several roosted toms without spooking them, while the main group was about 100 yards to my south. It was like being in a set of headphones when they started cluster gobbling at each other all around me.

They put on quite the show, flying down when I was still at least 15 minutes shy of even poor light for my cameras They were just black shapes hustling back and forth on the ankle-high green wheat. I think I had 15 fully-fanned adult gobblers and eight or so yearling jakes in sight. The young jakes were just like freshmen boys at their first high school dance. They stood off to the side, trying to figure out when to when to look good and when to get the heck out of the way of a jealous upper classman.

This weekend will largely be spent enjoying the NCAA games with Kathy, pulling for the Jayhawks and Shockers. Both look pretty strong, largely because of solid defense. That’s not as much fun to watch as great offense, but winning is a whole lot more enjoyable to watch than losing, so let’s hope it continues for both.

I also need to sprinkle some straw on our asparagus bed to give the plants some insulation against this weekend’s cold nights. We’ve been picking a few spears for about the past five days. Few things are better on the table than fresh asparagus from our garden and some fresh crappie fillets. I hope to work on the latter early next week, too.

I swear this is going to be the year I have a smaller garden, and make it out fishing more. But I’m as big of sucker when it comes to buying garden plants as I am Girl Scout cookies. (I’m pushing 20 boxes already this year, mostly short breads, which freeze well.)

For years I’ve found great pleasure watching a good NCAA tournament game,while dunking those cookies in a glass of cold milk. There are plenty of boxes of cookies to facilitate a Kansas team making it through the championship game.

Let’s hope they’re needed.

Bests,

Michael Pearce

mpearce@wichitaeagle.com

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