Daily Archives: August 3, 2014

Two Recommended Kansas Daytrips: Dyck Arboretum & Maxwell Game Refuge

The lake at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains

The lake at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains

Here are two daytrip suggestions that would appeal to folks looking for a day-long car trip to view the natural world in Kansas. These suggestions would be practical for anyone living near Wichita, Hutchinson, Salina, McPherson, Lindsborg or even Emporia.

The Dyck Arboretum of the Plains boasts 13 acres of native plants that will support wildlife, especially pollinating insects. The destination is worth the trip and the drive should be wonderful also. It is located at 177 W. Hickory Street in Hesston, Kansas, just north of Newton.

The Maxwell Wildlife Refuge encloses four square miles of land dedicated to bison elk and other prairie species. The Maxwell Refuge is the only public place in Kansas where herds of both bison and elk can be viewed in a native prairie environment. Plus learn about big bluestem, little bluestem, Indiangrass, switchgrass, sideoats grama, native sand plum and smooth sumac.

We’ll be adding many other Daytrips during the year. If you have a favorite day trip, let us know.

Practice shooting skills for upcoming hunting seasons.

Accuracy in the Field Requires Practice

Now is the time to practice shooting skills for upcoming hunting seasons

When hunting season kicks off, nothing can be more frustrating than a bad shot. Contrary to a popular notion, good shooters aren’t born that way. Good shooters get that way through pre-season practice, and those shooters will have more successful hunts this fall.

Three major seasons are on the cusp of arriving in Kansas, including dove, teal, and deer. Whether your quarry flies in the sky or trots on the ground, here are a few suggestions for better accuracy in the field. And remember, always handle firearms safely.

Dove season is Sept. 1-Oct 31 and Nov 1-9. Teal season is Sept. 13-28 in the Low Plains Zone and Sept. 20-28 in the High Plains Zone. To brush up on your shotgun skills before the dove and teal seasons open, visit a local trap, skeet, five-stand or sporting clays range. Unless you shoot competitively, you probably don’t get the opportunity to shoot much during the off-season. After a long layoff, you may be surprised at how rusty your shooting skills have become. If you don’t have a shotgun range nearby, get permission to access a field or pasture from a landowner and shoot some targets from a hand target thrower. Shooting just a few boxes of shells at targets will improve your eye and create muscle memory for proper shotgun mounting.

The Youth/Disabled Deer Season is Sept. 6-14, and all young hunters should be given the opportunity to practice with the equipment they will use. Preseason practice is a great way for a young hunter to become familiar with firearm or archery equipment, learn shooting fundamentals and reinforce safety habits.

The regular archery season is Sept. 15-Dec. 31. Successful bowhunters usually have a regular practice schedule for several weeks or months prior to the archery season. It’s a good idea to practice several times a week or even daily, shooting just a few arrows each session. Concentrate on technique and strengthening the muscles necessary to draw the bow smoothly and hold steady while aiming. As the season draws closer, practice with broadheads and even don your hunting coat and other equipment you’ll wear while hunting. If you hunt from a treestand or elevated blind, find a way to practice shooting from an elevated position. Pay attention to shooting distances you’re most accurate from and keep those in mind while hunting. An ethical hunter knows his or her limitations and shoots within them.

The Muzzleloader Deer Season is Sept. 15-28. Hunting with a muzzleloader presents a unique challenge because of the distance limitation and the fact that a follow-up shot requires a time-consuming loading procedure. A muzzleloading rifle is very accurate as long as the hunter finds the right powder and bullet combination and learns to shoot the gun. Time on the range, learning both your own and your gun’s limitations will increase your odds of success this fall.

Start preparing for a great fall hunting season now by finding a gun range and honing your shooting skills. Visitwww.ksoutdoors.com and “Services/Education/Shooting Ranges,” or visit www.WhereToShoot.org to find a range near you. Later this season, you and your stomach will be glad you did.

Spotted Bass

Spotted bass by Eric Engbretson

Spotted bass by Eric Engbretson

Spotted Bass: Photo by ERIC ENGBRETSON

The Spotted bass (Kentucky bass) (Micropterus punctulatus) is a freshwater fish belonging to the Perch family. In Kansas it is native to many eastern streams, especially those streams in the Flint Hills with limestone bottoms that also have some aquatic vegetation. The male will form a nest by sweeping silt from the bottom for the female’s eggs that he then guards. Spotted bass consume other small fish, crayfish and aquatic insects. It spawns in smaller tributaries of larger streams and reservoirs in early spring. It resembles the Largemouth bass in general appearance and coloration but with the presence of irregular spots along the lateral line. There are also small black spots along the belly. By comparison, the white bass has a more linear lateral line. Also the Spotted bass has a smaller mouth that extends just below the eye.