Monthly Archives: April 2013

Arkansas River sees more use when dry

Heavier use can lead to property disputes, vehicle and wildlife violations

The prolonged drought has reduced the flow of many streams and rivers in Kansas, and theArkansas River is one of the most notable victims. In many places in central and western Kansas, the river is dry or has minimal flows or shallow pools. As a result, there has been increased vehicle and other activity along the river, leading to confusion and disputes about landowner rights and legal activity on the river. Local law enforcement agencies and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism plan to patrol the more heavily-used portions of the river, using all-terrain vehicles to watch for vehicle and wildlife violations and disorderly behavior.   

Respecting Property Lines

There are more than 10,000 miles of streams and rivers in Kansas, and most stream and river beds are privately owned. The rivers in the public domain are the ArkansasKansas and Missouri rivers; however, most of the adjacent land is privately owned. Those rivers are open to the public only between the ordinary high water marks on each bank – the line where high water has left debris, sand, and gravel during its ordinary annual cycle. Fences, markings or signage are not required to define the property boundaries.     

When those rivers flow through private property, permission is needed from adjacent landowners to access the rivers or to engage in any activity on the property above or beyond the ordinary high water marks. Violators can be cited for trespassing.  In some places, the ordinary high water mark may be hard to distinguish, but in most areas, it is relatively clear. An apparent trail leading from the river onto private land does not give the public permission to use the trail or the land around it. If in doubt about the property line, err on the side of caution and confine activities to the river bed.      

Responsible Use of the River

People using the Arkansas River are subject to the same laws and regulations as on land, so operating a vehicle while intoxicated, reckless driving, disorderly conduct and other violations are prohibited. Also, destruction of certain wildlife habitat can be a violation, such as destroying beaver dams and lodges. Where there is some water flow, a beaver dam helps hold back the flow, creating vital habitat for other wildlife during a drought.  

And, given the increased activity, consideration and respect for others will be necessary for everyone to enjoy the experience. Personal safety is also important, and proper protective gear should be worn at all times. While on the river, remember that emergency response time may be longer. Most cell phones have GPS capabilities that allow local dispatchers to locate a 911 call and send emergency personnel to the right location.  

With the proper respect for property, other users and the river environment, everyone using theArkansas River can enjoy a great outdoor experience. For information about the Sunflower State’s rivers and streams, visit, then click on KDWPT Info – Locations – Rivers-and-Streams Access.

Cornell Team Sets New U.S. Birding Record

In a race against time, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Team Sapsucker obliterated the previousU.S. record for the number of bird species identified in a 24-hour period. These six intrepid birders, all members of the Lab’s staff, went on a blitz through Texas on Thursday, April 25, finding a stunning 294 species-far above the previous record of 264 which the same team set in Texas two years ago and matched last year. This extreme birding effort, traditionally called a “Big Day,” is also one of the largest fundraisers of the year for the Cornell Lab.

Thanks to sponsorship by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, LLC, all the money raised helps advance bird conservation efforts. Some comments from the team about the rare combination of events that led to a once-in-a- lifetime birding experience:

Andrew Farnsworth: “One of the keys to our success this year was a truly unique weather phenomenon: a cold front with wind and rain that dropped through Texas the day before, colliding head-on with birds migrating north from Central and South America, where, conversely, conditions were great for birds to take off on their journeys. It resulted in what we call a ‘fallout’ on High Island along the GulfCoast east of Galveston. An incredible variety of species all hunkered down to refuel and wait for better conditions. The trees and the ground were just dripping with fantastic birds!”

Chris Wood: “Texas is an incredible state for birds-really the crossroads for all the species you might find in North America. You can get everything from grassland and prairie birds, to desert birds, and even Eastern forest birds…all in one state.”

Brian Sullivan: “I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to come close to having this kind of birding experience in North America again. I really think this is a record that will be nearly impossible for us to beat. I hope the wonderful habitats that are here for birds will be preserved so we can continue to see all these species 10 or 20 years from now.”

First bird of the day: Ross’s Goose (midnight)

Final bird of the day: Virginia Rail (11:41 p.m.)

The members of Team Sapsucker are Chris Wood (captain), Jessie Barry, Tim Lenz, Marshall Iliff, Brian Sullivan, and Andrew Farnsworth. Last year Team Sapsucker raised $250,000 for bird conservation. To help them break this fundraising record for birds, supporters can

Ad Astra Archery Tournament Successful

                                         Photo Credit: Michael Pearce/The Wichita Eagle

The 3rd annual Secretary of State Ad Astra Archery Tournament took place on Saturday, April 20, 2013 at MacLennan Park in Topeka. An outdoor event, 155 school children from kindergarten through 12thgrade braved the chilly breezy day and took part in the competition. In addition, the general public enjoyed the Learn to Shoot area with one-on-one instruction. Archers and the public also enjoyed the horses from the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Posse, as well as the fishing clinic by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), and various rides such as the gladiator joust and whirly bird.

            Secretary of State Kris Kobach presented plaques and other items to the following winners of this tournament:

            K-3 division


1st Place

:  Jalee DeVader, Centershot Ministries at Wanamaker Woods Church of the Nazarene

·         2nd Place  Reagan Kobach, Centershot Ministries at Open Door Baptist Church


3rd Place

:  KayLynn Hall, Centershot Ministries at Wanamaker Woods Church of the Nazarene

4th-6th grade division


1st Place

:  Grant Ricke, Clearwater USD 264


2nd Place

:  Jack Rowland, Clearwater USD 264


3rd Place

:  Hannah Schoonover, Erie Arrows (Erie & Chanute)

7th-8th grade division


1st Place

:  Nikki Duerksen, Clearwater USD 264


2nd Place

:  Jacob Spellman-Sak, Clearwater USD 264


3rd Place

:  Cody Hanna, Clearwater USD 264

9th-12th grade division


1st Place

:  Micaela Keehn, Jackson Heights High School


2nd Place

:  Jessica Koch, Clearwater USD 264


3rd Place

:  Bradon Williams, Clearwater USD 264

Ad Astra Archery Tournament Inc. was formed this year as a not for profit corporation.  Tax deductible donations enabled Secretary Kobach to present financial awards for the highest scoring archers in each division at the Kansas Archery in the Schools Program tournament held in Hays, Kansas, who are eligible to participate in the national championships of the National Archery in the Schools Program inLouisvilleKentucky, and who make the trip to represent Kansas there. Two individuals met the criteria this year, and they are:

Elementary School Division

1st Place

:  Katelyn Blanco, Clearwater

Middle School Division

1st Place

:  Tatyana Miner, Clearwater

            Special thanks to Gary Keehn (KDWPT) for serving as range master and Joyce Ellis (KASP tournament) and Shelby Stevens (KDWPT) for serving as scorekeepers. Plans are to hold the 4th annual Ad Astra Archery Tournament in the spring of 2014.

Range Schools Focus on Soil Health in August

“Creating Range Wealth Through Soil Health is the theme for the Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition (KGLC) summer range schools,” said Tim Christian, state coordinator for the group. “The Mid-/Shortgrass Range School runs from August 6-8 at Camp Lakeside, Lake Scott, and the Tallgrass Range School is set for August 20-22 at Camp Wood YMCA, Elmdale.”

            The theme is indicative of the need for ranchers and land managers to employ grazing, structural and management practices that benefit the native grasses which in turn sustain or improve soil health creating a positive cycle that improves over time. The benefit to ranchers is their ability to harvest the increased forage with their livestock that occurs as soil water intake increases, microbial activity is stimulated, and other well-documented cyclic functions come into balance, said Christian. Our cadre of instructors – ranchers, agency, university and organizational staffs – will balance a good deal of hands-on instruction with classroom presentations.

            The 2013 registration fees have not changed from previous years at $300 per person. The fee covers course materials, on-site lodging and meals, and other related costs. Ranchers, landowners, and students may qualify for a $150 scholarship if they meet eligibility and request one using KGLC’s scholarship form. Agency staffs may qualify for $100 in scholarships. The form and more information on the Schools is available at under 2013 Range Schools found in the navigation bar. Scholarship applications must be submitted by July 23 for the Mid-/Shortgrass School and August 6 for the Tallgrass School. 

            We try to hold down costs for those interested in attending, said Christian, and we rely on our supporting partners to provide in-kind and cash underwriting to offset our costs to put the Schools on. Partners include the Natural Resources Conservation Service; Fort Hays State University; Kansas State University; Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism; The Nature Conservancy (which hosts one-day of the Mid-/Shortgrass School on their Smoky Valley Ranch); Kansas Section of the Society for Range Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program, and Feed-Lot Magazine. Other partners will be coming onboard in coming weeks, he said. 

            KGLC organized in 1991 as a non-profit educational organization and its vision is to regenerateKansas grazing lands. This is achieved through the management, economics, ecology, production, and technical assistance programs provided by voluntary methods to reach landowners, ranchers, and others making decisions on grazing lands.

            For more information on the 2013 KGLC Range School, contact Tim Christian, state coordinator, at 620-241-3636, email to [email protected] or Ken Sherraden, assistant coordinator, at 785-922-7061, email[email protected]. You also may go to the web at

Funky Nests addition

Check out this video trailer for the Funky Nests contest and embed it in your own website!

A Few Funky Facts About Nests:

Most common backyard birds lay two to eight eggs. Hatching usually begins about two weeks after the last egg is laid and it takes another two weeks before the young are ready to leave the nest.

Even if a nest has been built in a somewhat inconvenient place (for you), be patient! In a few weeks the birds will be gone. Meanwhile, you get a front-row seat to a wonder of nature.

Baby birds have brightly colored beaks that help parents hit the bull’s-eye with food!

For their first three days of life, nestling pigeons depend solely on “pigeon milk,” a liquid loaded with protein and fat that is produced by both the mother and father!

Most Wanted: Find a Funky Nest

Whether you find a robin’s nest on a statue or a hummingbird’s nest on wind chimes, your picture of a bird nest in a funky place can win big in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Funky Nests in Funky Places contest. With nesting season underway, this contest challenges everyone to get outside and watch nature in even the most unexpected places.

“Just start looking,” says Karen Purcell, who created the contest several years ago as part of the Cornell Lab’s Celebrate Urban Birds citizen-science project. “Past experience has shown us you can find bird nests in the most surprising places. We’ve seen them in helmets, old boots, stoplights, store signs, car tires, clotheslines, mailboxes, potted plants, and even a stuffed moose head!”

The Funky Nests contest begins May 1 and lasts until June 15. Entries may be photos, videos, artwork, poems, or stories. You don’t have to be a bird expert or an expert photographer. People of all ages are welcome to participate as individuals or with a class, community center, or afterschool program. Prizes include binoculars, bird feeders, cameras, an iPad, and more.

Entry deadline is June 15.

Find more information about how to find nests, approach nests without disturbing the birds, and enter the contest at

Celebrate Urban Birds is a free, year-round project that focuses on the arts, creating green spaces for birds, and learning how birds use urban spaces.

Table Tips for White Bass

It’s the white bass time of the year, and Kansas waters are loaded with them. When the fish make spawning runs up rivers and creeks feeding into lakes, they can be caught in abundance.

White bass are fighters at the end of a line, especially light line. They will take a variety of live baits, minnows in particular, and an assortment of lures – small crank baits, spinners, jigs.

But some people turn up their noses at eating white bass.

“They taste fishy.” “Too strong.” “Not good to eat.” “Trash fish.”

And other anglers just smile and prepare white bass for the evening meal or to go into a freezer.

According to fishermen, the common way to deal with white bass for cooking is to fillet them then use the tip of a sharp knife to cut out the strip of red or dark flesh. It is not difficult, and this strip is also common in the white bass cousins – striped bass and hybrid bass. It is what gives the “strong” taste.

With this strip of red gone, prepare the fillets as you would most any other freshwater fish.

A second treatment method is more involved.

Put the fillets, red streak and all, in a pan and cover it with buttermilk Let the pan sit in a refrigerator for a couple of hours then remove, discard the buttermilk and cover the fillets with a half and half mixture of white vinegar and water. Let this sit for an hour or so then pour off the liquid and rinse the fish then pat dry with paper towels.

With either treatment, the white bass fillets will be ready for your choice of cooking routes.

Illinois Resident Pleads Guilty to Poaching

by Daniel Xu

Outdoor Hub Reporters

Illinois resident Christopher Kiernan, 46, made headlines when he bagged a behemoth 36-point whitetail non-typical that scored 261 5/8 from measurers. His 2009 bow-and-arrow catch easily won the state record, but that was when the trouble started. Along with Larry Smith of Ontario and Garrett Armstrong of New York, Keirnan faced charges following an intensive 11-month investigation by multiple agencies.

According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the three poached an estimated 24 deer in Illinois and Canada over a 10-year period. Charges filed against the men included hunting without permission of landowners, invalid permits, unlawfully taking deer, falsifying harvest records, and not reporting taken deer.

“Conservation Police officers take seriously incidents of poaching and violations of the Wildlife Code and related offenses in the state, and these convictions made clear that we will bring violators to justice,” said DNR Conservation Police Chief Rafael Gutierrez. “Our officers are in the field every day protecting our natural resources and protecting the rights of those who legally enjoy hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits.”

Kiernan’s case was the last of the three to be settled when he pled guilty earlier this month in court. For unlawfully taking a 36-, 16- and 11-point deer he was ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to the DNR, suspension of hunting privileges, and forfeiture of his hunting equipment and trophies in addition to other penalties. The 36-point state record rack was appraised at upwards of $35,000.

Cabela’s Fish For Millions Returns to Kansas Lakes

Registered anglers can catch tagged fish and win prizes worth up to $2 million

Kansas anglers will again be fishing for money and prizes at select Kansas lakes this spring and summer. Cabela’s sponsors the Fish For Millions program where anglers who catch tagged fish are eligible to win some amazing prizes. The Grand Prize fish is worth $1,000,000 or $2,000,000, depending if the lucky angler downloads the Cabela’s Mobile App on their smartphone prior to fishing. Other prizes include cash, Ranger boats, a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Cabela’s shopping sprees.

To be eligible, anglers must first register online at The contest begins May 4 and ends July 7, 2013. Those who register before May 1 will be given advance notice of which Kansas lakes have tagged fish swimming in them. Otherwise the participating lakes will be announced May 4. Up to 1,500 prizes may be awarded, and dozens of fish have been tagged and released in Kansas lakes. Visit the Cabela’s Fish For Millions webpage and stay tuned for more information.

Kansas Hunter Education Instructor Receives Distinguished Award

Jim Bussone of Arma has been recognized as the 2012 Instructor of the Year

Jim Bussone, hunter education instructor and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) natural resource officer, has been selected as the 2012 Instructor of the Year. Each year, fellow instructors nominate and select an instructor who has demonstrated extraordinary, above standard actions that reflect favorably on hunters, the Hunter Education Program and the KDWPT.

In his 30 years as a volunteer instructor, Bussone’s “list of accomplishments is long,” said KDWPT Law Enforcement Lieutenant Keith Rather in his nomination of Jim. Among those accomplishments, Rather included Bussone’s active participation in 30 Hunter Education/Furharvester Education classes in 2012, initiation of a Hunter Education class for the Amish Community at Fort Scott (an admirable feat given no electronic devices such as computers or projectors could be used), assistance with Chanute Hunter Education classes during an instructor shortage and his implementation of the ever-popular Women on Target annual event, which is now in its eighth year.

Rather also credited Bussone with being a driving force in promoting, establishing and supporting the Kansas Hunter Education in Our Schools program, namely in Fort Scott, Arma, Pittsburg and Girard.

“Jim Bussone teaches more than hunter safety, he teaches life,” said Girard High School health and physical education instructor Sunny Pierce. “He is a great educational resource for our school district and is deserving of our deepest thanks and any recognition he is given.”

In addition to the aforementioned roles, Bussone also serves as an area coordinator for the Kansas Hunter Education program, as well as a Hunter Education Advisory Committee member.

Bussone will receive a certificate of appreciation and a firearm as tokens of appreciation for his dedication.

Other award nominees recognized for their exemplary involvement, performance, and continued dedication to the program include:

-Gerry Giroux, Salina

-Albert Hermann, Garnett

-Jay Farwell, Leavenworth

-Rob Friggeri, Girard

-Robert Paramore, McPherson

-David Howe, McPherson

-Larry Weast, Hiawatha

Hershel MartinKansas City

-Larry McAdow, Halstead

-Don George, Mound City

Each of the aforementioned individuals will receive a certificate of appreciation and an Order of the Buffaloaward later this year.

For more information, contact KDWPT assistant Hunter Education program coordinator Monica Bickerstaff at[email protected]