SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1996 LIFESPDRTS THE SAUNA JOURNAL oulloofk From hunters pursuing elk at the tree line of the Rocky fountains to those hunting marsh hens In Southeast coastal s-.vamps, this season Is shaping up as one of best in recent history. The National Shooting Sports Foundation in Newton, Conn., assesses this fall's hunting opportunities as such: WAT?- HI -OWL Expect one of the best fall migrations in 20 years thanks to good weather, private contributions to restore wetlands and the Conservation Reserve Program. A banner year for all upland game birds, due in large part to CRP. "Game bird populations, especially pheasants, have doubled, tripled and quadrupled in some areas since the start of CRP," said Joe Duggan of Pheasants Forever. TURKEY The population is 4.2 million birds, up from 1.3 million in 1973 when the National Wild Turkey Federation formed and began financing restocking programs, said NWTF's Robert Abernathy. Thirty-eight states have fall seaons, and hunting should be excellent. WHITETAJL DEEH Herds in 40 states are increasing or stable, and in other states they are being trimmed because there are too many deer. Seasons are long and bag limits are liberal, up to one buck a day in some Southern states. ELK The population of this huge North American deer has doubled since 1 975, according to Tom Toman of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. There now are herds in 24 states and five Canadian provinces. PRONGHCRN Several hard winters have hurt the populations in Wyoming and a few other states, but the animals are recovering under conservative management — meaning shorter seasons and smaller bag limits. season area hunters gear up for upland' game b i r d ansans have a variety of animals to hunt during the year, but nothing, it seems, stirs the juices more than the opening of pheasant season. It's not only a big time of the year for the hunters, who come flocking into Kansas from all over the country, but for non- hunters as well. For many businesses in north-central and northwest Kansas, pheasant season is a time of the year to make a profit — a big profit. Pheasant season opens Saturday throughout the state, and thousands of hunters will be out and about, looking for the treasured ringneck. For veteran hunters like Dean Schulz of Hays and Dave Huscher of Abilene, the start of pheasant season remains something special, even though both men hunt year-round. "Anybody who's an outdoors person anticipates any season," said Huscher, district manager for Duckwall-ALCO Stores in Abilene. "But pheasant season draws much more interest because there are so many people from Kansas City and the metro areas who drive to the rural areas in Kansas. I know it's a huge, huge boon for our company." Schulz, 41, said he's been pheasant hunting ever since he was "old enough to walk," he said. "I didn't carry a gun until I was 11 years old, but I remember spending a lot of time walking with my dad." Although he said he's more of a quail hunter, Schulz said pheasant season is a special time of the year for friends to get together. The Hays welder usually hunts with a group north of WaKeeney, stopping for lunch at the Catholic church in the nearby hamlet of St. Peter. "Every year they have a big luncheon there," Schulz said. "We clean a couple birds, drink a couple beers and tell stories. We also have a pheasant feather contest, seeing which bird has the longest feather." Although temperatures are expected to be colder than normal next weekend, "Schulz relishes the thought, although it's for purely selfish reasons. "I always hope for a bad (weather) opening day," he said with a laugh. "Because maybe it'll scare all those easterners away." Because both men hunt in groups, safety is always at the DAVIS TURNER / The Salina Journal Rusty's Outdoor Sports in Sailna's Central Mall has a wide array of hunting gear for the upcoming pheasant season. top of the priority list. Blaze-or- thing orange," Schulz said. ange-colored clothing — hats, vests and coats — are the norm, and a must. "If you walk with our group, it's mandatory you wear some- Huscher, 55, said he won't hunt in groups larger than six because of safety reasons. "You have to have visibility," Huscher said. "I usually stay away from the large groups, but you need four, five or six people to cover ground. We usually walk in cut milo and creek bottoms and the birds can really run on you." Both men said having the proper equipment — gun, shells, clothing — is as important as knowing where the birds are. "A good, well-broken-in pair of boots is important," Schulz said. "A shell vest is another nice thing to have to carry birds and shells. A good pair of warm gloves are also nice to have, and they need to be flexible enough to be able to shoot your gun." Huscher said early-season hunting is always a "crap shoot" when it comes to the weather. "Last year, we were just in our vest and shirt," he said. "This season looks like it's going to be colder, so it's important to dress accordingly." Huscher hunts north of Abilene on the privately-owned land of friends. He's an exception to the rule, because many landowners won't allow hunting on their land until the opening weekend of pheasant season is history. "In my earlier years, I wouldn't go out on opening day ... I'd hunt ducks instead," Huscher said. "It's a zoo out there unless you're hunting on pure, privately-owned land. I know several farmers who won't let anyone hunt on their land on opening day because they've been taken advantage of too many times." Pheasant season isn't only for the hunters — it's also good business for sporting goods stores like Rusty's Outdoor Sports in Salina and Sportsman Supply of Hays. "There's getting to be more and more interest right now," said Galen Falk, assistant manager at Rusty's Outdoors Sports. "We have a lot of fathers coming in with their sons, looking for certain types of shotguns — the single-pump, side-by-side or over-under." Carl Boldra, the owner of Sportsman's Supply, is seeing an increase in hunting licenses sold to out-of-state hunters. "A lot of times, they'll buy .shells and other items that strike their fancy," he said. "As far as clothing is concerned, the two things I see selling the most are hunting pants and boots." Both Falk and Boldra said the needs of hunters don't change much from year to year. They want the basics — shotgun, shells, orange hats, vests, hunting boots, heavy socks, gloves and possibly hand-warmers. story by harold bee hard the salina journal Source: The Associated Press OUTDOORS how's the season shaping up around here? 1 ext Saturday, the 9th of November is a day that many Kansas and non-resident hunters eagerly await. One half-hour before sunrise will usher in the opening of pheasant hunting season in Kansas for another year. Upland game-bird hunting is a popular sport in the Midwest and Kansas and has historically ranked among the top three states in pheasant, quail and prairio-chicken harvest. Opening weekend of pheasant season has become a tradition for many Kansas hunters. Lots of those from the eastern part of the state make a trek to western Kansas to hunt with friends or relatives there. Many western Kansas folks eagerly await the arrival of hunters for the gala affair. Nonresidents from many of the surrounding states head to the Sunflower State to meet up with old hunting buddies and chase those brightly colored, long-tailed birds. A clay or two before the season, the traffic in rural Kansas definitely increases some. Early predictions of bird numbers and projected hunter success have been somewhat varied. Back in August after talking to some of my farming neighbors and the Wildlife Area Manager here at Wilson Reservoir, I predicted good numbers of pheasants. Aftur that, I received a few phone calls and had a few serious discussions with the suveral wildlife biologists who did not particularly agree with me, at least in thi'ir areas. Before making any other comments, I waited for the official statewide forecast put out by Randy UodjiiTs, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks pheasant research bi- TOMMIE BERGER fisheries biologist, Kansas Department of Wildlife anil Parks With the advent of pheasant season, nonresidents from many of the surrounding states head to the Sunflower State to chase those brightly colored, long-tailed birds. A couple of weeks ago, I reported those predictions — that pheasant numbers look to be down in most areas of the state, perhaps the best in north-central and eastern Kansas where numbers appear to be slightly up. Still, there seems to be considerable discussion about hunting prospects. Therefore, I have contacted each wildlife biologist in central and northwest Kansas for their one-week-before- the-opener opinion. Here is what they have to say: • Brad McCord, wildlife biologist for Russell, Lincoln, Ellsworth, Ottawa and Saline counties, stationed at Wilson State Park: Pheasant hunters should find excellent habitat conditions in most of the district. Rains throughout the summer provided good moisture for food-plot plantings, weedy draws and brushy cover. The rains also improved habitat conditions in native grass pastures. Pheasant numbers appear to be fair to above average in localized populations throughout the area. Several hailstorms and unusually wet weather conditions probably contributed to these spotty concentrations. McCord's advice would be to find CRP fields bordering milo stubble and any undisturbed, weedy wheat stubble. Don't be afraid to pick up and go 10 or 20 miles to try a new location — and be prepared to work for the birds. Quail numbers should be as good as last year and probably better in some areas. Hunters willing to get away from the maiy roads and work for birds should have no trouble finding a covey or two of quail. • Ron Ruthstrom, wildlife biologist for Cloud, Republic, Jewell and Mitchell counties, stationed at Glen Elder State Park: Pheasant numbers seem to be down from last year. However, there are fair populations in spotty, localized areas depending on available habitat. Pheasants in this area are more associated with smaller crop fields and pasture borders. More are being seen since farmers are cutting milo. Quail numbers are up and look as good as last year. Look for excellent hunting in areas that are localized due to habitat. • Marc Gray, wildlife biologist for Phillips, Rooks, Ellis, Trego, Graham and Norton counties, stationed at Webster State Park: Pheasant numbers are similar to last year but worse in places. Birds are pretty scarce except for a few areas of good numbers that will provide good hunting. The birds are there, but because of the abundant habitat, hunters are going to have to work hard for them. The quail population is good, probably as good as last year but not as good as it was in the early 1990s. • Leonard Hopper, wildlife biologist for Decatur, Sheridan, Gove, Rawlins, Thomas, Logan, Wallace, Sherman and Cheyenne counties, stationed at Colby: Pheasants average about the same as last year with the exception of a few spots at the western,part of the district. These areas will be a little above average. Leonard made no mention of quail numbers in the far northwest. • Charlie Swank, wildlife biologist for Barton, Stafford, Pratt, Barber, Rush, Pawnee, Edwards, Kiowa and Comanche counties and stationed at Great Bend-Cheyenne Bottoms: Contrary to earlier reports, pheasant numbers are not too bad, pretty much similar to last year. Because of some hail storms and strange weather patterns in the area, the birds are spotty. The best numbers are in CRP fields that border or are near milo fields. Quail numbers are up from last year and hunting should be good. Final thoughts If you are planning a trip to the pheasant coverts next weekend, take note of the predictions directly from the wildlife biologists in their areas. If you need more information, give them a call. It would also be good to contact your landowner friends for their ideas on the bird numbers on their particular property. Several final thoughts. Be safe on this most popular and populous opening weekend by wearing hunter orange. We have more hunting accidents related to bird hunting that any other type of hunting. Most accidents are hunters shooting someone with shot while swinging on pheasant or quail. Have that hunting license and hunter safety card in your pocket if required. Remember that all conservation officers and many of the biologists will be in the field on this busy weekend. If you hunt on public hunting areas or on some of the new Walk-In Hunter Access areas, you might be approached by a KDWP employee conducting a survey regarding hunter success and hunter attitudes. CALENDAR Basketball • NOVEMBER 9-10 AT LINDSBORG — Llndsborg Quarterback Club tournaments lor 7th, 8th grade boys and girls ... entry fee $100 ... call Dwlght Swlsher (913-227-2750. day; 913-227-3578,. evening). • NOVEMBER 9-10 AT NEWTON — 5th, 6th, 7th grade girls tournaments ... call Jeff Barton (316-284-0638). • NOVEMBER 15-17 AT McPHERSON — McPherson Basketball Club Tlpoff Classic ... entry fee $125 ... 5th, 6th, 7th grade divisions, boys and girls ... call Todd Whltehlll (316-241-2745). • NOVEMBER 16-17 AT SALINA — Girls tournament at Salina YWCA for grades 5, 6 and 7 ... entry fee $75 ... eight-team limit... entry deadline Nov. 8 ... call Chuck Vogan (913-827-1087). • NOVEMBER 16-17 AT HUTCHINSON — 7th grade boys tournament ... call Brad Easter (316-662-4206). • DECEMBER 7-8 AT SAUNA —5th, 6th, 7th grade boys louma-' ment at Salina Central High School... call Steve Qritlln (913-823-5622).'' • DECEMBER 7-8 AT JUNCTION CITY —5th and 6th boys tourha-r men! at Junction City High School... call Bob Strahley (913-238-3768. or 913-238-6184). • DECEMBER 7-8 AT GREAT BEND —7th grade boys tournament: at Great Bend High School... call Tina Hiss (316-792-3428). • DECEMBER 13-15 AT SALINA — First annual Sports Village Toumamenl for 4th and 5th grade boys teams ... call Ted Cunningham (913-823-5077). • DECEMBER 14-15 AT GYPSUM —5th, 6lh, 7th grade boys and girls tournaments at Southeast ol Saline High School... call Ken Ebert (913-826-9869 or 913-827-3606). Hoop shoot : • NOVEMBER 16 AT SALINA — Elks National Free Throw "Hoop Shoot" contest at Kansas Wesleyan University... 8 p.m.... 8-9,10-11, 12-13 age divisions ... call Brian Carlgren (913-823-3261). Running • NOVEMBER 28 AT SALINA — Family Thanksgiving Fun Run/Walk at Bill Burke Park ... 2-mile walk, 3-mlle run ... entry fee $2 or $10 which includes t-shlrt... register at Salina YMCA ... call Kim Bolte (913-8252151). Notices • Hunter Education classes — Nov. 4-5-6 at KSRTC Class- roonVKDOT classroom (double class)... Dec. 2-3-4 at KSRTC classroom ... Feb. 23-25 AMBUCS ... all classes tree except tor live tire classes ... call 913-827-0027 or 913-623-7669. , • Drop-In basketball — At Roosevelt-Lincoln Junior High ... Oct. 8-May 21 ... Tuesday and Wednesdays, Oct. 8-23, 6:30-10:00 p.m. ... after Oct. 23, Monday and Wednesdays, 6:30-10:00 p.m. ... call 913-826-7434. • Basketball referees needed — The Salina Parks & Recreation Department Is now taking applications for the 1996-97 season ... men's league begins Nov. 25 ... must be able to work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday evenings ... call Tim Kerbs (913-8267434). • Trout fishing permits — Fishermen must purchase an $8 permit during the trout season of Oct. 15 to April 15 ... the dally creel limit Is five trout ... possession limit 15 ... all residents 16-65 and non-residents 16-older must have valid fishing license. • City league basketball — Salina Parks & Recreation men's teams... entry deadline Nov. 6... extended deadline Nov. 12 ($20 late extra fee)... leagues start Nov. 25 ... call 913-826-7434. • YMCA youth basketball — Salina Family YMCA-sponsored ... girls, boys 2-7 grades ... registration deadline Nov. 15 ... first games Jan 4...call 913-825-2151. • Undsborg adult basketball league — For men 24-and-over... games Thursday evenings at Soderstrom Elementary ... Dec. 5 start ... entry fee $160 per team ... call Nick Garcia (913-227-3333). • Wrestling clinic — Monday, Nov. 4, at Salina South Middle School... 7 p.m. ... call Bob Stein (913-827-7379).
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