Ducks in the news

Discussion in 'Kansas Flyway Forum' started by duxngolf, Aug 3, 2008.

  1. duxngolf

    duxngolf Senior Refuge Member

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    Taking a bite out of duck hunting
    Friends kick back at Bottoms
    By Marc Murrell
    The Capital-Journal
    Published Sunday, November 09, 2008
    Many outdoor enthusiasts have a favorite outing they enjoy as a ritual each year. Deer hunters in the east are big into deer camps with elaborate cabins and equipment. Southerners enjoy fishing outings at the beach for a weekend, often sharing time with close family and friends. And for those of us in the Midwest, we have options as well. One of my favorites happens each fall in the form of duck camp at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area.

    If you've never been to Cheyenne Bottoms (near Great Bend) you owe it to yourself to visit. It's considered a wetland of international importance and the sights and sounds of 20,000 acres of prime wetland habitat make it pure heaven. Huge flocks of Sandhill cranes, white-fronted geese, dozens of species of shorebirds and more species of ducks than you can count on both hands provide more entertainment than any night on the Discovery Channel.



    Duck camp at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area is an annual ritual for Marc Murrell and several friends. The 2008 version was a big success as evidenced by this nice fist-full of mallards held by Jim Reid.



    Courtesy / Submitted
    The annual duck camp ritual for a group of friends is a time to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Duck boats, campers, duck dogs and duck hunters are all key ingredients to a successful camp. Big fires don't hurt and many are stoked into the night listening to the sights and sounds afforded by a 20,000-acre wetland.

    Click Thumbnails to View
    Several buddies and I like to make duck camp an annual ritual. We'll pull campers and several duck boats, depending on how many people are planning to attend, and set up camp for several days.

    But our duck camp excursions each fall are strictly at the mercy of Mother Nature. The 2007 duck camp plans were scrapped as Cheyenne Bottoms flooded from torrential rains. It became Kansas' largest lake at more than 30,000 acres making hunting or access all but impossible. Skipping a year makes the next one all the more enjoyable as anticipation builds.

    The 2008 season was fast approaching and Cheyenne Bottoms had good water conditions and favorable duck numbers. Hopes were high as we made plans to hunt four days in late October. But as friends often do, several had to remind me of our 2006 duck camp. Just as many happy memories are made, occasionally Murphy's Law rears his ugly head and not-so-pleasant memories are made, too.

    A buddy and I arrived after lunch and got camp set up and headed out to the marsh for an evening hunt and a bit of scouting. Ducks rose by the hundreds and my adrenaline was high as we hid the boat and began pitching decoys in front of it. I was hurrying and trying to throw several at least 25 yards to spread things out. I typically grab the decoy string in the middle so that the weight and decoy hang together below and chuck it as far as I can with a sidearm heave.

    As I launched one of the few remaining decoys the string wrapped around my finger and the decoy didn't leave my hand. The 6-ounce lead weight came flying around as fast as it can swing on a 3-foot string and caught me squarely in the side of the mouth. Hearing the thud, my buddy looked at me and his eyes got big. Blood was gushing down my chin onto my waders and shirt.

    "What in the world did you do," he hollered, knowing it wasn't good.

    I mumbled something about "screwing up pretty bad" as the side of my face began to swell. Fortunately, I had put a first aid kit in my duck bucket and I got some gauze out and cut it into strips. I packed it into my left cheek and tried to take inventory of my teeth, which was difficult because of all the blood. All the teeth were there, but my upper left canine wiggled considerably. I assumed it was just loose in the socket.

    I got the bleeding to stop and decided to stay and hunt, against my better judgment, as well as my friend's. We ended up shooting a near-limit of ducks but my mood had taken a dramatic turn for the worse. I've thrown literally thousands of decoys through the years just like that and never had any problems. I couldn't believe I'd screwed up that bad. The pain was excruciating, but the thought of abandoning duck camp hurt nearly as much.

    Back at camp with a light and mirror I'd discovered that instead of being loose, my canine tooth was broke nearly in two at the gum line. Another buddy had arrived and I now had two friends to wince and grimace every time they looked at me. A call to my dentist's emergency number found him in Las Vegas at a dental convention and he wouldn't return for two days.

    It was difficult to sleep that night but I told my buddies they could hunt in the morning (we were in my camper and boat) and then I would pack up and head home.

    I spent the next day in a recliner sipping soup through a straw. Every time my tongue would bump the broken tooth the nerve would pull tight and send a shooting pain through my head like someone hitting me with a skillet. The next morning's dental visit couldn't come soon enough.

    I was the talk of the dental office as each hygienist had to come look at me and express their sincere sympathy at my misfortunes. They were more compassionate than some of my friends that called wondering if hockey goalie masks shouldn't be required equipment for future duck hunting trips. The dentist numbed my mouth and broke the tooth off and then performed a root canal. I got a temporary tooth and was feeling no pain until I saw the bill, which came close to $1,500. Fifty percent of that was my responsibility and added expensive injury to insult.

    But by that afternoon I was feeling much better and I wanted to salvage something of our duck camp and a buddy and I decided to return the next morning. It was a beautiful morning as we pitched decoys, somewhat gingerly this time, into the darkness. I flinched like a toad in a hail storm each time he launched one as the feeling of six ounces of lead at 60 mph was still quite vivid.

    We had a great hunt and wrapped it up with a big fire in the camp ground and a wonderful lunch of Cajun gumbo. I kicked back in my chair and enjoyed the day and experience even though it was the abbreviated version of our typical duck camp.

    The good news is our 2008 duck camp was a huge success and I kept all my teeth intact. The weather was perfect and our days were highlighted with limits of ducks, big fires, tall tales and a few cocktails as we watched the sun set and listened to flocks of white-fronted geese and Sandhill cranes migrating non-stop overhead. Duck camp this year was truly good for the soul, but my dentist will have to do without which is just fine by me.
     
  2. duxngolf

    duxngolf Senior Refuge Member

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    Whooping cranes back
    The Capital-Journal
    Published Sunday, November 09, 2008
    The whooping cranes are back.

    Each year, some of these birds ? the largest and rarest of North American cranes ? make a stop in central Kansas, at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area near Great Bend, or Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, about 30 miles south of Cheyenne Bottoms.

    Currently, officials at both sites are reporting the presence of whoopers. Cheyenne Bottoms staff reported eight birds on Nov. 4, and an undetermined number of birds have been reported at Quivira as well as another small group several miles south. As a result, Cheyenne Bottoms has closed the hunting of sandhill cranes and white geese on the area's firing line until further notice. Quivira has suspended all hunting on the national refuge until further notice.

    Approximately 260 whoopers will migrate from Canadian Northwest Territories to Arkansas National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Texas this fall.

    Officials with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will lift hunting restrictions once they are certain the whoopers have moved south.

    For current information on Cheyenne Bottoms, phone (620) 793-3066. For information on Quivira, phone (620) 486-2393.
     
  3. duxngolf

    duxngolf Senior Refuge Member

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    Eagle's Michael Pearce reports as follows:

    CHEYENNE BOTTOMS - For several seconds it sounded like a boat motoring closer and closer behind us.

    When we turned, we saw the source of the sound was a rising wall of white, ever-widening and spiraling upward.

    Millions of wingbeats raised a thick layer of spray several feet above the water's surface.

    "I'm not sure I can remember this many snow geese on Cheyenne Bottoms," said Rick Tomlinson, of Great Bend, as he watched last weekend's show.

    Few who have hunted Cheyenne Bottoms can remember a fall of better goose hunting.

    All season, friend/guide Tomlinson regularly called and told about duck hunting good enough for clients to eventually take five duck limits and white-fronted goose hunting great enough for fast two-bird limits per hunter.

    As weeks passed, several people told of double-digit waterfowl days with limits of ducks, whitefronts, three Canada geese and a growing number of white geese, which have a limit of 20 per day.

    On Dec. 12, Tomlinson hunted solo and shot 14 geese by 9:30 a.m.

    The next day, the last shot of warmth before last Sunday's Arctic blast, he hosted four friends to a final fling before ice coated the region.

    Along with us were Fort Hays State graduate students -- Jason Black, Justin Hamilton and Ryan Schmitz.

    We loaded Tomlinson's over-sized johnboat with 60 floating decoys, assorted shotguns, waterfowling bags and a hefty black lab.

    We spread the mixture of snow, whitefront and Canada decoys on the downwind side of an island. We spread ourselves along the shoreline, making quick blinds of gathered tumbleweeds.

    Action had come quickly in previous days. Big flocks of whitefronts had been decoying better than juvenile mallards for weeks.

    But action was slow for our first few hours, with only the occasional lone whitefront or pair of Canadas passing within shotgun range.

    But never were there not dozens of geese to be seen in the air.

    Mallards, safe because of a closed duck season, entertained us by continually coming to calls and dropping into the bobbing goose decoys.

    Late morning brought high winds and flocks of geese returning from feed fields.

    Tomlinson's calls brought a nice flock of small Canadas to point-blank range and five were shot. A passing flock of white geese left four dead.

    Combined limits of 15 Canadas came quickly from decoying birds. We shot our 10 whitefronts, a bird here and a bird there.

    But it was a never-ending procession of white geese that will stand out.

    Pressed low by howling winds, they often moved just a few yards above the water, in long, crack-the-whip flocks that snaked for hundreds of yards across Cheyenne Bottoms.

    Always wary, only a few flocks passed over the land where we waited.

    Seeing a pattern, Tomlinson ferried Schmitz and Hamilton, the two least-experienced waterfowlers in the group, to a weed-shrouded tiny island blind where flock after flock were passing low.

    Black, Tomlinson and I watched the young hunters getting swarmed with geese as much as the birds we continued to shoot over the decoys.

    We'd shot a total of 42 geese when we gathered decoys and boated back to reality.

    Tomlinson and I signed slips transferring our birds to the students. Twenty-four hours later, Cheyenne Bottoms was locked in ice. The great goose hunting will likely continue.

    "We have some of our best goose hunting out on the ice," Tomlinson said. "We drive nails in the ice to hold shell decoys and hide in the weeds. It can be some great hunting."

    Maybe so, but it probably can't be much better than what Cheyenne Bottoms was throughout the fall.
     
  4. duxngolf

    duxngolf Senior Refuge Member

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    Too good to be true deals hit outdoor world
    By Marc Murrell
    The Capital-Journal
    Published Sunday, January 04, 2009
    We are constantly bombarded with deals and bargains of the century.

    "Pay just $59 for this brand new program car with no other fees, EVER!" one obnoxious used car salesman spews.

    Deals too good to be true are now surfacing in the outdoor world, too. Jim Reid (left) and Rodger Farmer sit idly by watching thousands of cormorants and seagulls that were mistaken by a friendly informant for Canada and snow geese one time on Cheney Reservoir. The duo, along with Marc Murrell, finally cut their losses without firing even one shot at a duck or goose.
    "Make $1,000 per day all from the comfort of your own home!" a tacky sign posted to a telephone pole says.

    "Lose 45 pounds in just two weeks ? GUARANTEED!" another sign says.

    All these deals sound too good to be true. And they probably are, too. But the problem is that these, "too good to be true" deals have entered the outdoor world. Mind you it wasn't malicious, but it reared its ugly head several years ago.

    Two waterfowl hunting buddies and I had tentatively settled on a waterfowl hunt one Saturday morning. Plans were in the process of being made when one of them phoned me with incredible news.

    "Change of plans," my friend Jim Reid said. "Rodger talked to a guy yesterday that hunted Cheney Reservoir and he said the lake was just covered up with migrating Canada and snow geese. You need to jump in."

    "No kidding," I said, as I did with both feet.

    "He said there were 10,000 geese if there was one," Reid said with the enthusiasm of a kindergartner at Christmas. "And they're all stacked up on walleye island!"

    It sounded too good to be true.

    "I'm there," I said as I took the bait hook, line and sinker.

    While Rodger Farmer and Reid both have decades of waterfowl hunting experience each, they were truly excited at the prospects of thousands of geese descending upon us. After all, a limit of light geese AND dark geese is something waterfowling dreams are made of. Throw in a mess of mallards, wigeon and gadwalls and the only thing missing from that perfect hunt would be the Swedish bikini team parachuting down mid-morning with a hot breakfast.

    We met at the ramp at 5:15. I could tell immediately it was Farmer's rig when he pulled up in the darkness as the mass behind the truck was easily as big, if not bigger, than the truck itself.

    "We're going to die for sure," I said as I looked at Farmer's boat loaded with enough decoys to outfit Cabela's mail-order requests for a year. "If we go down I'm grabbing the biggest bag of decoys I can find and float to shore."

    "Just don't grab the one with the goose shells in it," Reid said with a laugh.

    We loaded even more gear into the vessel we've affectionately named, "Farfegnugan," after the Volkswagen motor Rodger crafted into his own personalized version of a "more power" mud motor.

    As we left the boat ramp there was just enough room for Farmer to drive and Reid and I to sit atop a bucket on the only exposed seat. Fortunately Gauge, Farmer's black lab, wasn't afraid of heights as he climbed up on the mound of decoy bags in the front of the boat and sat there like king of the decoy mountain.

    Farmer squeezed the throttle on his "What I did on my summer vacation" project and we were under way across the lake. I was convinced there were a couple barges that traversed the Mississippi River that didn't have loads like we carried. I silently prayed for a safe journey as the thought of thousands of geese covering us up danced in my head.

    It sounded too good to be true.

    We approached the island which is normally just under the water's surface. However, a little rain had left the reservoir down nearly 4 feet and much of the lower unit-eating rock outcropping was exposed.

    "What in the world are those?" Reid asked as Farmer scanned the island with his spotlight. "Are those geese?"

    As we idled closer and the light spooked the birds, it quickly became obvious what was covering up the island and surrounding water.

    "They're cormorants," Farmer said, disappointed. "Surely that's not what he was talking about when he said he saw all the geese."

    "Surely not," Reid and I both agreed.

    The stench of roosting cormorants was quickly evident. Recycled shad smells much worse than the initial version. Farmer and I contemplated bumming a cigarette off of Reid, despite the fact neither of us smoked, just to mask the stench.

    "That's horrible," Farmer said of the smell. "That's going to make those donuts taste good if we have to smell that all morning."

    As the cormorants splashed out of our way, we pulled the boat onto the rocks.

    "Surely that's not what he saw yesterday," I said as we marveled at the thousands of birds squawking and gargling around us.

    "I'm sure he knows the difference," Farmer said in a voice he wouldn't bet on.

    We laid a plan to set up goose decoys on one side and ducks on the other with a spot in the middle for any drop-in visitors. As we moved around the shore we were amazed at the number of channel catfish dining on cormorant crap. Literally hundreds of catfish, their backs out of the water, were going through the recycled shad buffet.

    "That's why I don't eat catfish," Reid said, laughing.

    We sat out the decoys and pushed the boat into place and began to cover up in anticipation of first light.

    "Surely he didn't think the cormorants were geese," Reid said, trying to get someone to convince him otherwise.

    It began to get light when Farmer said, "There's something coming into the decoys."

    "Never mind," he said, "It's a seagull, and not just one, look at them all."

    We all stared blanker than normal at each other and said in unison, "snow geese?"

    "Surely not," we all agreed half-heartedly.

    Thirty minutes went by and our gag reflexes finally subsided to the point the smell was now just a nuisance.

    "I can't believe we came out here for this," I said dejected after watching the last of several thousand cormorants fly by, over and around us. "And the seagulls are just the icing on the snow goose cake."

    It sounded too good to be true.

    After an hour of not seeing a single respectable fowl within bazooka range, we knew our day was a bust and we'd been duped, not on purpose, but that didn't matter.

    "I bet the ducks just covered up the river," Farmer said, laughing about the place we had planned to go. "I can't believe we're sitting here in the middle of this giant pile of cormorant *&#%@."

    As we loaded up the dozens of decoys we couldn't help but laugh at our own misfortunes.

    "This one will go down in the history books," Farmer said.

    "We'll likely never forget this hunt although I'd like to," Reid chimed in with his own jab.

    I was content to just mumble, cuss and shake my head. I had to laugh, too, but like Farmer and Reid I hated to burn a day on something that sounded so good and ended so bad.

    So the next time someone calls you with a hot tip, make sure you get all the details or get it in writing or sworn on a stack of bibles. If it concerns waterfowl make sure your informant has good eyesight or at least a bird identification booklet handy.

    Because if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
     
  5. duxngolf

    duxngolf Senior Refuge Member

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    Commission OKs turkey-second bird combo tag
    Comments (0) Recommend (0)
    BY michael pearce
    The Wichita Eagle
    COUNCIL GROVE ? Kansas turkey hunters willing to shop early could save money next spring.

    At Thursday's Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission meeting, it was announced the agency will combine a turkey permit and the second-bird game tag for $25.

    They've sold for $20 and $10 in the past, and will also be available priced separately next year.

    The state hopes the special pricing can bring increased sales and revenue for Wildlife and Parks. It's also hoped more sportsmen will be motivated to head to the fields.

    Mike Miller, Wildlife and Parks acting information and education chief, said the special pricing would probably end in mid-March to encourage early purchases.

    Studies have shown that many hunters buy a turkey permit about every third year.

    It's possible fall deer hunters could eventually see special preseason deals that link deer and turkey permits together at reduced costs.

    * Mike Hayden, Wildlife and Parks secretary, said non-resident deer permits left over from the recent application period and drawing will go on sale in about two weeks.

    More than 4,600 any-whitetail permits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    All non-residents who applied drew whitetail permits. About 37-percent who applied for the mule deer option were successful.

    All management units will have leftovers. Unit 10 has the most with 824 permits.

    Locally, there are 479 permits left in unit 12, 339 permits in unit 13, 407 permits in unit 14, 242 permits in unit 15 and 325 permits in unit 16.

    * Faye McNew, Wildlife and Parks waterfowl program coordinator, said good nesting conditions in the northern U.S. and Canada means Kansas can expect a Sept. 12-27 teal season for the low plains unit.

    She predicted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will authorize duck and goose seasons similar to last year. She said it's unsure if Kansas hunters will be allowed five or six ducks in their daily bag limit.

    * Commissioners continued to debate the use of body-gripping traps on state wildlife areas.

    Carson Mansfield of Salina again addressed the commission concerning an incident late last winter when his beagle was killed in a body-gripping trap set in a bucket at the Kanopolis Wildlife Area.

    He requested such traps not be allowed out of the water on public hunting areas.

    Matt Peek, Wildlife and Parks furbearer biologist, said a meeting of agency personnel determined such incidents are too rare to warrant a law change. He said the death of one dog has been reported in each of the last three years.

    Several members of the Kansas Trappers Association spoke on the subject, saying most hunting dogs are too large to be held and killed in such traps. They also said most of the trapping on wildlife areas takes places during the two weeks between the Jan. 31 end of bird seasons and the mid-February end of furbearer season.

    Peek and trappers reminded commissioners for the need to reduce raccoon populations in most areas. Several studies have shown nest-raiding raccoons have played a leading role in the reduction in quail populations.

    Peek disputed claims that the general public and their pets are in danger. He said the traps are too small and too hard to access to be a threat to humans, and dogs not hunting on public wildlife areas must be kept on a leash.

    Very few wildlife areas have hiking trails open to the public.

    Peek and several trappers offered to work toward a program that offers more education on trapping and how to remove pets from traps.

    The topic will get further discussion at future commission meetings.

    The next commission meeting is in Medicine Lodge on Aug. 6. For more information go to www.kdwp.state.ks.us or call 620-672-5911.
     
  6. duxngolf

    duxngolf Senior Refuge Member

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    Outdoors Michael Pearce: Wildlife and Parks Commission needs to represent all hunters

    Laughter erupted when Commissioner Don Budd boomed ?we can do whatever we want? in response to a protocol question from Commissioner Roger Marshall at the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting Aug. 1 in Yates Center.

    It won?t be so funny if those words become the motto for the current commission, especially when setting waterfowl seasons.

    Budd, with the help of supporting commissioners, left biologists and many unhappy southeast Kansas hunters in his dust when he made 95 percent of that area?s duck season the latest days allowed.

    Marshall insured it will be legal to shoot Canada geese during his sandhill crane hunts with buddies, though it could cost more than 10,000 other hunters a February week when many more Canadas are usually around. Marshall, of Great Bend, needed just some questionable excuses to back his cause and the debate-free vote of the other six commissioners to trump agency evidence that his season wasn?t the best for the masses.

    After the vote, I asked Marshall if his hunt was a factor in his date request, and he admitted it was. He got the duck season for his area changed unanimously, too.

    Let?s hope these aren?t part of an ?I?ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine? commission trend.

    Minority rules

    All seven commissioners are avid outdoorsmen. Most hit the Kansas outdoors hard, hunt and fish in other states and own or lease lands where they spend high amounts of sweat and money for wildlife. To me they?re a relief compared to commissions when as many as three of seven members had no hunting or fishing experience.

    Such passions have always come with desires, and commissioners have long probably voted toward what improves their hunting and/or fishing. It?s always been the job of other commissioners to make sure such desires aren?t detrimental to Kansas wildlife and sportsmen. They?re to do the same with agency proposals, too. Nobody wants them to back the department all of the time.

    But the ease with which Marshall got his Canada goose season, which best serves a minority, makes it look like the other commissioners cared more about having Marshall?s back than about the best interests of most Canada goose hunters.

    In the final minutes of the Yates Center meeting, Tom Bidrowski, Wildlife and Parks waterfowl biologist, gave the department?s recommendations for an Oct. 26-Nov.3 and Nov. 13-Feb. 16 Canada goose season. The first segment could allow crowds afield for the opening of the low plains late zone duck season a crack at Canadas. The second segment would take the season as late as federal frameworks permit, giving hunters maximum chances at often sizable north-bound February flocks. He mentioned specific requests from central Kansas hunters, including around Wichita, for the most February days possible.

    Bidrowski admitted this season?s request was a departure from the past few, when the second segment opened the same as sandhill crane season, which is the first Wednesday of November, so crane hunters could have a crack at Canadas. That meant the season had to close the second Saturday of February. Bidrowski showed proof Kansas generally has far more Canada geese in mid-February than early November, hence the department?s request for the later season. He also justified the proposed season change since Kansas has about 400 crane hunters but 14,000 goose hunters to consider.

    Makes sense to manage for that majority ? unless one of those 400 in the minority is a Wildlife and Parks commissioner.

    Marshall and his hunting buddies take the opening of sandhill crane season seriously. They scout the best cropfields diligently, have great equipment and share their resources. Current commission chairman Gerald Lauber has been on their hunts as have some state politicians and Wildlife and Parks biggies. I?ve been twice for stories and photos. The time I carried a gun, in 2009, I never fired a shot but Marshall and crew did their best.

    Most years, the first few days of crane season the hunters see good action on sandhills, white-fronted and Canada geese and ducks. Marshall apparently didn?t think three out of the four were enough, even though cranes and whitefronts usually greatly outnumber Canadas in early November.

    Via Skype, Marshall protested the department request and offered his reasons for why the Canada season should continue to open early rather than run as late as possible. Without Canadas opening Nov. 6 this year, the same as crane season, he predicted an agricultural apocalypse with clouds of geese robbing cattle of waste grain from harvested cornfields and inflicting serious damage on young wheat fields.

    ?I think farmers will be very upset if we?re not out there defending their crops,? said Marshall, who called the opening of crane season, ?probably the best goose week of the year in central Kansas.?

    Sorry, those statements don?t fly with some facts.

    Marshall and friends could still be out ?defending? crops with a later Canada goose opener. They could be afield hunting cranes and whitefronts, which both normally are in far greater numbers than Canadas in early November. Shotguns booming at cranes and whitefronts will spook Canadas just fine.

    As for the ?best week goose week in central Kansas,? it?s certainly not for Canada geese. Bidrowski presented a chart showing about six percent of the state?s Canada goose harvest comes in early November, with the peak harvest times in late December through January.

    Biologists at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, which is near where Marshall often hunts, report three of four years of data showed peak Canada goose numbers in about early December. The exception was the fall and winter of 2011-12 when peak numbers were in mid-February, the time Marshall?s proposal took from Kansas hunters.

    On my central Kansas hunts it?s rare we get many Canadas until around Thanksgiving. Some of the best goose hunts of my life, including last year?s closing day, have been in February.

    Despite the department?s request, charts and figures that showed theirs was the best Canada goose season for the majority of Kansas sportsmen, Marshall got his season on a 7-0 vote. So, the season opens the same as for cranes, and closes Feb. 9.

    I was surprised at that, but I wasn?t surprised earlier in the meeting when Budd, as he did last year, got his version of a duck season for southeast Kansas.

    Buddozing through

    Most new commissioners take to their role gradually, getting their feet a little more wet at each meeting. Budd, of Kansas City, hit his first meetings in 2011 like a cannonball from the high dive with proposals that sounded more like demands. Most pertained to waterfowl, one of his main passions.

    It?s obvious Budd, who?s succeeded in a variety of businesses including a pawn shop and farming, and who is a world-class clay target shooter, is used to success and getting his way. He once snapped, ?Well look at it again!? when a Wildlife and Parks manager told commissioners he?d looked into one of Budd?s ideas, and didn?t think it worthwhile.

    Twice last year, Budd told commissioners those who didn?t respect his waterfowling expertise ? and vote his way ? probably wouldn?t get his support on other issues. Several times he voiced his disrespect for the department?s waterfowl management plans, often referring to it as outdated and ill-advised.

    Last year his main passion was to have as late a duck season as possible for southeast Kansas. In his defense, the southeast zone was created so the area?s hunters could take better advantage of late-arriving flocks of mallards. Before Budd arrived on the commission there were grumblings agency-recommended seasons still weren?t late enough.

    Last year, he was the main reason the commission voted 4-3 against the department?s request for a season that went early November through early January and re-opened the last week of January. Biologists wanted those dates to insure those hunting shallow marshes might get several weeks of gunning on early migrants before freeze-up. Instead, the commission went with Budd?s design to place the entire 74-day season from mid-November through the last Sunday of January.

    Budd, who manages a southeast Kansas hunting property that is at its best when the weather is at its worst, dictated a late season this year, too. This time he did offer Nov. 2-3 for early-season hunters along with the Nov. 16-Jan. 26 for late season shooting. In Yates Center he said his days would ?satisfy 95-percent of the public.?

    His percentages are off.

    At the Yates Center meeting, people wanting as many late days or early days as possible were about equal. The early season guys, though, had a petition with 80 signatures. They also pointed out that a Wildlife and Parks graph showed about 55 percent of hunters wanted a season earlier than Budd was proposing.

    Budd?s desires passed 6-1, meaning early season hunters got two days compared to his 72 days. Nothing else got serious consideration at the meeting. Seems to me there should have been room for compromise.

    Actually those wanting more early-season days have a right to be at ticked at Wildlife and Parks, too, for coming with a framework that didn?t work last year. A recommendation that gave the early-season guys two weeks, which would have still allowed late-season hunters their coveted December and January days, might have worked.

    Maybe some commissioners might have seen it as win-win and it would have passed ?or maybe not. It might all boil down to the back-scratching thing.

    Painful process

    This year?s sliding of season dates are far from season-breakers. That we?ll have plenty of water, and the migrations should have a lots of birds are more important. Personally, Budd?s duck season works better for places I hunt in the southeast zone, but I?ll miss a potentially great week for Canada geese in February because of Marshall?s season. But I?ll hunt a lot this winter, no matter.

    The discouraging thing is how the seasons were changed, with one commissioner making a suggestion and others following dutifully along.

    Marshall?s request to also slide a week from first segment to the second of the low plains early duck zone season passed unanimously,too.

    But it was the way his goose season was created, with Budd plainly telling Marshall to spell out exactly what he wanted for dates, that just seems wrong. There?s no way that can be seen as being in the best interest of the majority of Kansas goose hunters, yet the vote was quick and with no debate, and I don?t know why.

    I?ve wondered if commissioners are intimidated by Budd. I worry they think if they vote along, they?ll someday get reciprocal backing when they have an agenda of their own.

    That, I don?t think, would be a laughing matter.
     

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