Take Me Fishing Reminds You To Keep Calm and Hit The Water

With proof that being near water can naturally help lower anxiety, leading to a healthier and more relaxed lifestyle, Take Me Fishing urges everyone to take advantage of local outdoor spaces and bodies of water by engaging in activities like boating, fishing, biking and hiking (3).

Getting outdoors is healthy for people both young and old. In fact, 90 percent of kids who spend time outside say that being in nature helps relieve stress (4). And while 75 percent of teachers feel that students who regularly spend time outdoors are more creative and better problem solvers, only one-third of high school students get their recommended levels of physical activity (5).

If you’re one of the many Americans who desperately needs to unwind outside and decrease your stress level, boating and fishing are fun, easy and affordable ways to do it. With 3.5 million miles of rivers in the United States, 90 percent of Americans live within an hour of navigable water (6). As for the cost, a family of four can get a fishing license for approximately $115 annually, under half the cost for a family season pass to the average commercial waterpark (7).

“Boating and fishing are not only easy ways to naturally relieve the stress of daily life,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “They are enjoyable activities that allow you to spend time with your family while on a budget.”

More and more Americans are jumping in and taking advantage of these fun stress-busting activities. In fact, boating is ranked as one of the top three of all stress-relieving activities (8). Additionally, more Americans partake in fishing than play basketball and football combined (9).

If stress relief wasn’t enough, you can now help the environment while you relax. Funds from fishing license sales and boat registrations go toward the conservation of our natural aquatic areas.

“RBFF is committed to conserving our natural resources so that future generations can enjoy fishing and boating in our nation’s rivers for years to come. So, when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, grab your life jacket or your fishing rod, keep calm and enjoy the water,” said Peterson.

2012 Quail Nesting Habitat Conditions Report

Quail hunters and biologists’ hopes were high for quail nesting conditions coming into the spring of 2012. A combination of increased population carryover from a mild 2011 winter and productive nesting conditions in early spring across the country gave quail managers hope of a more productive year. But as temperatures increased, rains decreased and now most of quail country is locked in drought. This will inevitably lead to a decrease in quality habitat due to lack of forb activity, abnormally high temperature pressures, and with emergency grazing on Wildlife Management Areas and Waterfowl Production Areas in many states, reductions of critical habitat.

Most of the quail biologists are still optimistic that the early 2012 nesting start may have given the birds a few extra weeks to gain a wing up on the summer heat. Should the heat break and rains increase through the rest of the summer, populations could even see late breeding season growth in some places.

Quail are resourceful and will make use of what they can, so the full story remains to be written for this year. Quail Forever’s complete quail hunting forecast will be released in September.

Kansas had a relatively mild winter, and it seems to have improved production last year in many areas of the northern-central and eastern regions, according to David Dahlgren, PhD, Small Game Specialist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. The exception to this would be southwest Kansas, where last year’s drought hurt populations, and the below average production in south-central Kansas.

Early nesting conditions in the Sunflower State were favorable to quail throughout much of its quail range; however, drier conditions have dominated summer which could put the quail population at a loss if there is not an increase in precipitation.

Habitat acreage has stayed the same or slightly decreased. Kansas had a “relatively good sign up for general CRP,” Dahlgren said, though it did lose acres. Of the 500,000 acres expiring in Kansas, 375,000 acres were reenrolled.

“We currently have the Bobwhite Quail Initiative that started this year in Kansas,” added Dahlgren, “We have two focus areas in eastern Kansas where we will be focusing quail habitat ‘tools’ and monitoring population response over the next few years. We look forward to seeing positive results and being able to expand the success to other areas of the state.

Anglers Tackle Fall Fishing

Lull between hunting seasons a great time to be on the water

Before long, the Kansas hunting seasons will be in full swing, but there’s still time to enjoy some excellent fishing. There’s a lull after the fast action of the opening dove, early teal, and youth deer and duck seasons, but avid outdoorsman are still itching to get out. This is a time of year when many take advantage of hungry fish, feeding continually in preparation for a long winter. Fall is a great time to be outdoors.

In the state’s larger lakes and reservoirs, gizzard shad are the preferred prey of most sport fish. In the fall, young-of-the-year shad are about 2-3 inches long, and a white or chrome, fat-bodied crankbait is the perfect imitation of a gizzard shad. Cast a deep- or medium-diving crankbait along rocky points and rip-rapped shorelines, and retrieve it quickly, so it gets near the bottom and bounces off the rocks. A deep-diving crankbait may be the best choice even when fishing relatively shallow water. The lure’s long lip deflects off rocks and other snags, and this action can trigger strikes. If the lure does hang up, give it some slack, and it will often float free. Using light monofilament or a small-diameter braided line will allow a crankbait to dive deeper.

Later in fall, when water temperatures cool to the low 50s or high 40s, it’s time to catch Kansascrappie. Reservoir crappie congregate in large schools over deep brushpiles and creek channel dropoffs at this time. Jigs or jigging spoons fished vertically in 12-25 feet of water are most effective. If too many small crappie are biting, try a larger jig with a 2- or 2 1/2-inch shad-type plastic body. The larger bait will more closely resemble shad and may discourage smaller fish. When concentrations of crappie and white bass are found, use landmarks or GPS to mark their location. If the state experiences a frigid winter and safe ice forms, you can return to the spots that held fish before freeze-up and catch them through the ice.

Even though autumn weather may be mild, always wear more layers of clothing than you think necessary when fall fishing. No matter how warm it feels on land, it will be much cooler on the water, especially if the wind blows. And don’t forget to wear a life jacket; it will keep you warm and may save your life.

Hunters Donate 11 Million Venison Meals

Food banks and individuals are thankful for such generosity

When you’re passing the turkey and stuffing around the Thanksgiving dinner table, here’s a story to tell–one that would not be possible without the thoughtfulness and generosity of hunters.

A new study commission by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and conducted by Mile Creek Communications reveals that last year 11 million meals were provided to the less fortunate through donations of venison by hunters. Nearly 2.8 million pounds of game meat made its way to shelters, food banks and church kitchens and onto the plates of those in need.

“Given our challenging economic times, hunters’ donations of venison have never been more important to so many people,” said Stephen L. Sanetti, president and CEO of NSSF, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry. “These contributions are just one way hunting and hunters are important to our way of life in America. Learning about these impressive figures makes me proud to be a hunter. I have donated game meat during the past year, and I urge my fellow hunters to strongly consider sharing their harvest.”

The study revealed that donations were largest in the Midwest and the South. The Midwest provided 1.3 million pounds of game meat, amounting to 46.1 percent of total donations, with the South close behind at 1.25 million pounds and 45.7 percent. The Northeast contributed 7.2 percent of total donations and the West 1 percent. Though lower than other regions, the West’s contribution still accounted for 108,520 meals.

“Certainly the Midwest, South and Northeast benefit from having large populations of white-tailed deer,” said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF’s director of statistics and research. “These figures are from confirmed sources, but annual donations could easily be double this amount if ‘direct’ donations from hunters to friends and family are included.”

Curcuruto added that NSSF commissioned the study to better understand the size and scope of these venison donations.

Groups often cooperate to ensure a successful donation program. In Georgia, according to the Athens Banner Herald, the Georgia Wildlife Federation pays for the meat to be butchered and packaged at state-licensed processors, the state Department of Natural Resources oversees the program and the Georgia Food Bank Association coordinates distributions. Additionally, the game meat satisfies shelters’ need for nutritious food items. Dave Williams, who manages food resources for a northeast Georgia food bank, said in the Banner Herald that he is focused on acquiring more nutritious items and noted, “Deer venison is such a low-fat, high-protein item, agencies greatly appreciate getting it.”

Another recent news report out of the Indiana-Kentucky-Illinois area pointed out that one deer can feed up to 200 people. Ground venison is a versatile food, with cooks using it in pasta sauces, chili, tacos, meatloaf, burgers and other dishes.

Individual hunters donate game meat and even pay for processing, though many hunters choose to work with organizations dedicated to the cause of helping the hungry. Many of these groups were sources for the NSSF study and include Hunters for the Hungry, Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Hungry, Hunt to Feed and Buckmasters, among others. Visit this website for more information about groups active in various states.

Moonlighting for Crappie during August

If you use a floating light or lantern, the crappie will concentrate around that light. The main concentration of crappie fishermen at night is around bridge pilings, vertical structures that allow the crappie to move up and down in the water, on the edges of old river or creek channels.

However, you may catch more crappie by looking for spots where underwater creek channels run into the main river channels. These natural highways for crappie easily will concentrate the baitfish under lights and lanterns, just as effectively (if not more effectively) than fishing under bridge pilings where all the other anglers are fishing. The real secret is not to go home early. You may need 2 or 3 hours after dark to concentrate enough baitfish and crappie around your lantern or light along these crappie highways. Generally, you’ll catch the crappie close to the bottom when you first start fishing, and as more and more baitfish move to the surface, the crappie will come away from their deep-water haunts and move-up higher in the water column to feed on the bait. Often just before daylight, you may catch crappie as shallow as 1-1/2- to 2-feet deep. The crappie aren’t the only fish that travel the edges of the channels. You also can catch white bass, catfish, largemouths and even hybrid white bass and stripers using this strategy.

The angler who introduced me to this hot-weather crappie tactic explained, “If you don’t stay all night, you won’t catch many crappie, because the bite often comes an hour or two before daylight.” I’ve found this advice to be absolutely true. From 9:00 pm until 3:00 am, you only may take 8 or 10 crappie. But often from 3:00 am until 5:30 am, the fishing and catching will be nonstop. You may be able to catch a limit and even release the smaller crappie. Sometimes if the fishing and catching are fast and furious, you may have to put a dead minnow right back on the hook and in the water. Before I have caught as many as 5 crappie on one minnow.

To learn more tactics about how to catch crappie when the weather sizzles, check-out John E. Phillips’ book “Crappie: How to Catch them Spring and Summer” at Too, you can go to and type-in the name of the book to find it. You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone.

Poll Shows Strong Bipartisan Support for National Parks

According to a new public opinion poll commissioned by the National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA) and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), national parks are cherished by an overwhelming 95 percent of likely voters who want the federal government to ensure the parks are both protected and available for enjoyment.

The new poll finds that more than 80 percent of those likely to vote in 2012 have visited a national park at some point in their lives, and nearly nine in 10 say they are interested in visiting a park in the future, and 60% want to stay overnight in a park lodge. National parks are viewed as embodying the American experience, and voters want to see them enjoyed, honored, cherished, and cared for, not left to crumble into disrepair.

Young Birders get a Boost

  In late July, a group of enthusiastic young birders gathered at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in IthacaNew York, to participate in the Lab’s special Young Birder Event. This year, the event was sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics.

This series of events began in the summer of 2009, and it has since become an ideal way to connect and inspire promising teenage birders. Ten high-school-aged young people are chosen to participate, and for a weekend packed with activities they are exposed to a variety of creative and diverse ways to hone their birding skills. They learn from professional ornithologists as well as Cornell University graduate and undergraduate students about careers that center on birds. They try making sound and video recordings of birds, along with learning something about Neotropical birds, taxonomy, nocturnal flight calls of migrants, field sketching, taking field notes, and much more.

“These young birders will be the next generation of leaders in ornithology and conservation,” says the Cornell Lab’s Jessie Barry, one of the hosts of the event.

Already, plans are underway for the 2013 session, including a search for promising young birders in grades 9 through 12. For more on this year’s Young Birder Event at Cornell see

QDMA’s Rack Pack Website Goes Live

The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) is pleased to announced that the website for its youth education and outreach program, the Rack Pack, is now live at

QDMA will officially launch the Rack Pack at its 12th annual National Convention in NashvilleTenn., August 9-11. The QDMA National Convention will be held in conjunction with the Bass Pro Shops Land & Wildlife Expo at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

The goal of the Rack Pack website is to promote interaction and engagement with QDMA and youth from around North America. The Rack Pack program strives to recruit individuals 17 years of age and under and to provide them learning opportunities to enrich their hunting and outdoor experience.

“I am very excited that we have launched the Rack Pack website,” said QDMA’s Youth Education and Outreach Director Daniel Bartley. “The launch of the website marks the beginning of the Rack Pack program and QDMA’s ability to accept memberships to the Rack Pack team. The website is designed to promote interaction among youth from around North America and provide learning and hunting experiences that will build the next generation of whitetail hunters. I hope this program will recruit and enrich future hunters and leaders in conservation for many, many years to come!”

The website features some great interactive and informational components. One such component is the Track the Pack section. This section includes blogs and stories from youth 7- to 18-years-old. From articles and blogs to photos and videos, the group that is sharing their experiences is dedicated to providing this content on a regular basis. To check out this section and the many other features of the new website, including membership,

Sick and Dead Deer Reported in Eastern Kansas

Public asked to notify KDWPT of deer that act ill or are found dead

July through early October is a time when people occasionally see sick and dead deer and wonder what is happening. The disease most often associated with these losses is called hemorrhagic disease (HD). It is caused by a virus, and it is transmitted to deer and other ruminant animals by biting midges. People and their pets are not affected by this virus, and the disease stops in the fall after cold weather kills the midges.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) is asking anyone who sees a sick or dead deer to phone local KDWPT staff and report where and how many deer are involved. To help identify the extent of the disease, an online survey is also available for people to report fresh or decomposing carcasses. The public survey can be found at

So far this year, KDWPT has received reports of dead or sick deer from at least 24 counties in northcentral and eastern Kansas. These counties include Jewell, Cloud, Cherokee, ShawneeClayWashingtonWilson, Doniphan, JacksonMiamiFranklin, Crawford, Labette, Linn, Douglas, Osage, Wabaunsee, Pottawatomie, Lyon, Riley, Anderson, Bourbon, Dickinson, and Marion. Most of these reports have involved a single sick or dead deer, with occasional reports of multiple mortalities.

Test samples can be taken from deer if the carcass is found soon after death. Samples are submitted to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS) at the University of Georgia to determine cause of death and occurrence at the county level. Recent results from a case in Wilson County confirmed the epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus, serotype 2 (EHDV-2), a variation within a subspecies of the virus.There are two related classes of viruses that may cause hemorrhagic disease — epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) and bluetongue virus (BTV). The virus and serotype most often associated with death of deer in Kansas is EHDV-2.

Both BTV and EHDV infect cattle, but in North America, clinical disease in infected cattle is rare and generally mild when it does occur. Sheep are not affected by EHDV, but severe disease can be caused by BTV. Midges can carry both viruses and feed on many species of ruminants, and the viruses may produce a variety of symptoms in deer.

When HD occurs, people normally find sick and dead deer along streams or near ponds. Midges reproduce in nutrient-rich substrate near stagnant water, and deer are often found near those sites in the late summer. Deer with HD frequently have a high temperature and may seek cool water. They also often allow people to get very close. Sick deer may be standing or lying down, many times right in water, and they occasionally have an open mouth with their tongue hanging out and swollen.

The clinical signs of HD in deer can be highly variable. The virus can damage the deer’s blood vessel lining, which can result in leaking blood vessels and an accumulation of blood and fluid in tissues. This hemorrhagic appearance gave rise to the name for this disease.

This year many deer are responding severely to the disease. These animals will sometimes die within a couple days after they are first infected by the midges. That does not mean that all deer infected with the virus will die. Some deer will not show any symptoms, and their immune system will produce antibodies for this virus. Those antibodies can give the deer some protection from the disease in future years. Other deer will survive the initial infection, only to develop complications from tissue damage during the early stages of infection, a form known as chronic HD.

The chronic signs of HD typically observed by hunters in the winter or by people who encounter a sick deer in the spring include fever rings on the hooves (cracked or sloughed hooves on three or four feet) and emaciation. Thin deer are generally the result of the disease’s effects on the lining of the rumen (a digestive organ similar to a stomach in other animals). Those animals have a decreased ability to effectively digest food. Chronic HD can further lower the immune response of deer and leave them vulnerable to bacterial diseases such pneumonia. The virus itself is not a threat to people, but deer with bacterial infections are unfit for consumption.

What can be done about HD? There are no effective treatments or vaccines for HD. Even if there were, it would be nearly impossible to treat enough wild deer to have any effect on the annual outcomes of this disease. Some individual deer have high levels of immunity to the disease. Deer in western Kansas generally have antibodies for various serotypes of EHDV and BTV, and a significant die-off in the western two-thirds of the state is rare. Deer in eastern Kansas generally do not have antibodies for the disease, and when events like the one this year occur, there can be high numbers of sick and dead deer.

The best advice for people concerned about HD on their land is to make sure deer are not concentrated at feeders and that deer are not being fed high levels of corn, which may lower their ability to mount an immune response if they become infected. KDWPT will continue to monitor the spread and extent of HD this year.

“HD probably occurs to some extent every year in Kansas,” explains Lloyd Fox, big game program coordinator for KDWPT. “Occasionally, there are years when the disease causes high mortality. The department adjusts future management, such as antlerless-only seasons and numbers of permits, as a result of those events.”

Fox explains that HD is a traditional disease of deer, and while there may be high numbers of dead deer in a particular area, the deer herd will generally repopulate the area within a few years.

Managed Fields Excellent for Sept. 1 Dove Opener

KDWPT-managed areas are magnets for elusive mourning doves

Many hunters view Sept. 1 as the opening of hunting season, with dove season beginning on that day. It’s been a blistering hot, dry summer, but mourning doves seem to thrive in hot, dry weather, and Kansas hunters should have no problem finding this acrobat game bird when the season opens. Hitting them may be another matter, so target practice prior to season is important.

Although the mourning dove is the primary quarry, Kansas hunters enjoy pursuing four species of doves in split fall and winter seasons. The season for all doves runs Sept. 1-Oct. 31 and Nov. 3-11. During these segments, two native species (mourning and white-winged doves) as well as two exotic species (Eurasian collared and ringed turtle doves) may be taken. In addition, an exotic species season runs Nov. 20-Feb. 28, 2013. During this time, only Eurasian collared and ringed turtle doves may be taken.

To enhance public hunting opportunities, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) manages fields specifically to attract doves. Dove fields may include standing or mowed sunflowers, unharvested strips of wheat and burned crop stubble, mowed wheat, mixed plantings, or any combination of techniques.

Some areas have restricted hunting dates or times, and others may be restricted to youth, novice, and/or disabled hunters. Some may also require hunters using managed dove fields to obtain and complete a daily hunt permit or obtain access through a drawing. Other areas are open to the general public. Fields within waterfowl management areas require non-toxic shot only. Daily hunt permits are free and located in “iron rangers” (similar to mailboxes) at the field near you.

Use the KDWPT website,, to find details on areas specially managed for doves. Click “Hunting/Migratory Birds/Doves/Managed Hunting Areas” for details on a managed dove area.

Hunters are reminded that there are no bag and possession limits for Eurasian collared doves and ringed turtle doves. However, during the regular dove season — Sept. 1 through Oct. 31 and Nov. 3-11 — if the take of exotic doves exceeds a hunter’s daily bag of 15 mourning and white-winged doves (single species or in combination), the exotic doves must be transported with a fully-feathered wing attached. The possession limit for mourning and white-winged doves is 30.

Doves are excellent table fare. Whether wrapped in bacon and grilled, baked in a pie, or skewered for shish-ka-bobs, this game bird is a favorite of many. But don’t wait until Sept. 1 to get ready. Hunters should be scouting areas and obtaining permission on private ground or planning for a public land hunt now. Shooting clay targets for a couple of weeks will save shells once the season opens, but stock up on shells anyway; this is one of the most difficult game birds to hit. These things done, all that remains is knowing the law and cleaning the grill.

All dates and regulations needed for hunting doves may be found online at the KDWPT website, On Aug. 23, the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission will approve final regulations for ducks and geese at theWetland Education Center

592 NE K156 Highway

, near Great Bend. Once that action is complete, KDWPT can post the 2012 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary, on the agency’s website, where hunters can go to learn more about identifying dove species. At that time, click “Hunting/Hunting Regulations” to view or download this booklet.

Printed copies of the 2012 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary, as well as the Kansas Hunting Atlas, will be available where licenses are sold the first week in September.