Michael Pearce

The Eagle's outdoor reporter highlights the latest hunting, fishing and wildlife news.

Michael Pearce

Sailing association to provide free fireworks display at Cheney

By Michael Pearce

mpearce@wichitaeagle.com

August 25, 2016 09:07 PM

Sunday, Sept. 4, the Ninnescah Sailing Association will be supplying a free fireworks display at their facility at Cheney State Park. They been treating the public to such displays for several decades, and more than 20 years over Labor Day Weekend.

The display will start at dusk. The public can watch from boats or from the state park area near the association’s facility. A state park permit is needed to access that area. Lawn chairs and any needed refreshments are recommended. The Ninnescah Sailing Association is located on the west side Cheney Reservoir. The state park entrance at the west end of the dam, and signage, will take you to the event.

More updates

All of the recent rains could put a damper on hunting success around ponds and windmills when dove season opens Sept. 1. Doves would just as soon drink from a puddle as a pond, so an abundance of water can scatter the birds. Feed fields might be better this year, but the rains may also have choked wheat stubble fields with weeds. Hunters who do some scouting, should be able to find birds.

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Still good reports on numbers of small wild turkeys, pheasant and quail being seen. I’ve seen some trail camera photos of some nice bucks but nothing really huge. Then again, fewer hunters are sharing what they’ve got for fear of poaching or somebody leasing their hunting spot.

I found out the same person has purchased the commission elk permit the past two years. The permits are to be sold to the highest bidder to raise funds for conservation and conservation groups. The record for the elk permit is about $23,000. This year the elk permit went for around $5,000. Last year it was closer to $8,000 and the permit did not get filled. The interesting part is that they buyer is a middle-class worker who is giving the permits to a beloved family member.

There’s more to the story, and I’m hoping to get to write it up if they succeed this year. They got good photography on last year’s hunts but scheduling kept them from hunting when the conditions were best at Fort Riley. It’s not an easy place to hunt because of so many off-limits areas and some vast amounts of cover.

It seems Kansas is getting elk spread more across the state every year. The herd along the Arkansas River, from about Dodge City to the Colorado border, may be rivaling Fort Riley’s herd for population. There are a few small bunches up and down the Ninnescah River, too.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page will feature five fun things to do outdoors over the Labor Day weekend. Those kinds of articles are fun to produce, and the readers usually seem to appreciate them, too. This list includes hiking in the Chautauqua Hills, fishing at lakes with cool waterfalls, the fireworks display, hiking amid buffalo and wild flowers and taking walks at dawn to see deer up close in Wichita.

Probably within the next week we’ll be running an article on how state parks are having to change what they offer to appease a changing clientele. It seems many of today’s campers want to get back to nature, while not getting too terribly far from things like cell phone coverage and even Wi-Fi. I talked to state park directors in four states and all are also looking into alternative shelters, like yurts, teepees or big canvas wall tents. The idea is to offer campers something between primitive camping and fully-equipped cabins.

In the works is an article on the impact blue-green algae is having on businesses at Milford Reservoir. When and where algae levels are too high, contact with the lake’s water is discouraged. It’s happened enough that a stigma may be building that’s keeping boaters and swimmers away from the lake. Two people estimated it could be costing the local economy up to $1 million on holiday weekends. One marina figured a big algae bloom cost him around $4,000 in gross sales per day.

I’m waiting for a pair of federal biologists to return calls for an article on how the monarch butterfly population is doing this year. Their migration should be peaking in Kansas in about three weeks.

Michael’s world

This has been my worst year for tomatoes since I got serious into vegetable gardening about 12 years ago. A new mulch I tried failed, so weeds are a constant problem. Some of the plants also have mites and I’ve been too busy to get some spray. All of the rain also means most of the tomatoes are splitting long before they’re ripe.

I do, however, have egg plants in great supply. Thursday evening I found one bigger around than a softball. We’ll find a way to cook it. Next to the homegrown tomatoes, Kathy and I probably enjoy egg plant as much as anything from our garden. We like to cut them into slices, bread them, saute them in olive oil then serve covered in a marinara sauce that’s heavy on finely diced homegrown tomatoes.

I may load Cade up and tour western Kansas over the Labor Day weekend, stopping to hunt doves with several friends. I think it’s been dry enough up there we may be able to find birds around small ponds. I really need water so Cade can stay cool.

My interest in deer hunting has probably never been lower since I started in 1973. Part of it is frustration with how things have gone with commercialization, poaching and so many friendships and families being broken apart over something as silly as antlers. I’ll spend a week with friends out west, and hunt locally a few times. Around here, my main goal will be taking out a couple of teens who really need someone to sit with them in the tree.

I’m also wanting to focus a lot of time on getting Cade on as many pheasant and waterfowl hunts as possible. He did well last year,and has been taking to training well this summer. This fall and winter should be a lot of fun for both of us.

We’ll be changing Outdoors coverage a bit, focusing more on non-consumptive articles than “hook and bullet” stories. It’s a matter of supply and demand, and the non-consumptive articles - hiking, wildlife, floating, the environment - get a lot more interest online than hunting and fishing stories. The numbers don’t lie.

Sunday’s Royals game was fun with Jerrod and his father-in-law, Brent Miller. They won 2 to 1 so there wasn’t a lot of offense but the Royals made five flat-out fantastic. That’s always fun to watch.

Bests,

Michael Pearce

mpearce@wichitaeagle.com