Secretary Zinke declares October National Hunting and Fishing Month

From The Outdoor Wire

Just days before National Hunting and Fishing Day – which is held on the fourth Saturday of September every year – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke declared October will officially be recognized as National Hunting and Fishing Month at the Department. Zinke championed the order to recognize the lasting and positive impact of hunters and anglers on wildlife and habitat conservation in America. This order comes on the heels of several major sportsmen actions from Interior including the announcement September 20 of the addition of 600 acres of land in Arizona’s Santa Teresa Mountains to make Wilderness Areas accessible for hunting and fishing.

“I grew up in northwest Montana surrounded by public lands and waters. Some of my best memories are hunting and fishing with my dad and granddad, and then later teaching my own kids to hunt and fish. That’s something I want more families to experience, which is exactly why increasing access to public lands is so important,” said Secretary Ryan Zinke. “Hunters and anglers are the backbone of wildlife and habitat conservation in America, and they contribute billions of dollars to conservation. From my perspective, the more sportsmen we have in the woods and waters, the better our wildlife and land will be. Formally recognizing the contributions of hunters and anglers to wildlife and habitat conservation is long overdue.”

“Hunters, anglers, and target shooters are the best conservationists who contribute so much through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts,” said Richard Childress, second Vice President of the National Rifle Association, NASCAR driver, and honorary chair of Hunting and Fishing Day. “Last year, they contributed $1.2 billion toward conservation and protecting our natural resources. We need more mentors taking young people out and teaching them to hunt and fish, so I’m glad Secretary Zinke is promoting hunting and fishing at the federal level.” The declaration was signed at the grand opening of the Wonders of Wildlife Museum in Springfield, Missouri September 20. Event speakers included former Presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

President George H. W. Bush sent a video message with a virtual ribbon cutting. Earlier in the day Secretary Zinke scuba dove in the shark-filled aquarium and conducted a question and answer session with a fifth grade class of young conservationists.

Hunters and anglers contribute billions of dollars to conservation through initiatives like the Federal Duck Stamp, which sells for $25 and raises nearly $40 million each year to provide critical funds to conserve and protect wetland habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Excise taxes on firearms, ammo and tackle also generate more than a billion dollars per year through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration acts.

This September and October, the Department of the Interior is setting its sights on the continued role that hunters and anglers play in wildlife conservation.

Earlier this month, Secretary Zinke signed a directive to support and expand hunting and fishing, enhance conservation stewardship, improve wildlife management, and increase outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans. The order expanded hunting, fishing and shooting on public lands and sought innovative solutions to open private land. It also focused on wildlife and habitat conservation and restoration as well as better collaboration with states, tribes and territorial governments. The move was widely praised by sportsmen and wildlife conservation organizations.

In August, the Secretary announced a proposal to expand hunting and fishing opportunities at 10 National Wildlife Refuges, and he announced the initial stages of a plan to acquire land to make the Bureau of Land Management Sabinoso Wilderness Area accessible for the first time ever to hunters, hikers, and wildlife watchers.

On his first day in office, Secretary Zinke reversed an order that would have banned lead ammo and tackle on National Wildlife Refuge lands, and he began the process of expanding hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands across the Department.

“It’s imperative that we have people like Secretary Zinke speaking about and promoting hunting and fishing. It’s not only our heritage, it’s also the key to true conservation,” said Craig Morgan, a country music performer who performed at the event. “It is refreshing that Secretary Zinke understands the value of hunting and fishing to American conservation,” said Major David Eaton, who spoke at the event. “The more public game lands become available to Americans, the better off our country will be.”

In addition, Secretary Zinke recently made recommendations to President Trump on 27 national monuments, calling for changes to some that, while still protecting the land, would also protect and expand public access to that land for citizens who want to hunt, fish, hike, and experience the joy and beauty of those public lands.

Editor’s note: Unfortunately many of the recommendations by Secretary Zinke call for reducing the size of some monuments while opening other monuments to oil, gas and coal exploitation, negatively impacting the habitat available to wildlife and hunters on these public lands.

Kansas State Parks Director elected to national post

Linda Lanterman, director of the Parks Division for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), was elected president of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) at their annual meeting held September 5-8 in Missoula, Montana. Lanterman has worked for KDWPT for 25 years and has been Parks Division director since 2010.

Lanterman oversees a staff of 120, 26 Kansas state parks and an annual budget of $12 million. She began her service with the department in the Human Resources Section, then served as the assistant chief of the Licensing section and assistant director of the Parks Division. She graduated from Wichita State University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Administration degree in Accounting. The Kansas Recreation and Park Association named her a distinguished fellow in January 2015.

“I feel honored to be chosen President of NASPD,” Lanterman said. “America’s state parks are part of the fabric of our nation’s quality of life. Close to home, state parks in every state offer outdoor opportunities that provide lasting memories for our visitors to share with subsequent generations. America’s state parks are staffed with passionate and competent employees who work tirelessly to help create those memories. We want to support our staff and give them the tools to execute their jobs in the most efficient and passionate way.”

“Linda brings a diversity of state park experiences, from daily operations and grants administration to innovative budgeting strategies that help make state parks more fiscally sustainable,” said Lewis Ledford, NASPD executive director. “Her energy and resourcefulness will serve America’s state parks well in continuing to forge public and private partnerships and secure corporate support.”


The NASPD helps state parks effectively manage and administer their systems. Its mission is to promote and advance the state park systems of America for their own significance, as well as for their important contributions to the nation’s environment, heritage, health, and economy.

Duck hunters invited to free breakfast in Great Bend

Duck hunters and friends hitting the marsh on Oct. 7 are invited to stop by the Kansas Wetlands Education Center (KWEC) – located at the southeast corner of Cheyenne Bottoms along K-156 Highway – from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. for a free Hunter Appreciation Breakfast. Biscuits and gravy, coffee, and juice will be served. New this year will be a free dog retrieving demo with a hunt test training scenario for dog owners to try with their dog.

After filling up on a warm breakfast, hunters can explore Cheyenne Bottoms’ history through exhibits and displays at the education center, peruse through items in the Cheyenne Bottoms Ducks Unlimited Chapter raffle and silent auction, practice their marksmanship with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) Laser Shot game, as well as share hunting stories with fellow hunters and KDWPT staff.

“Hunters and hunting is such an important part of the past, present, and future of Cheyenne Bottoms,” stated Curtis Wolf, KWEC director. “It is an honor to celebrate this tradition.”

The free breakfast is sponsored by the Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau, and organized by the KWEC, KDWPT, and Ducks Unlimited.

For more information about the breakfast, call the KWEC at (877) 243-9268.

Relive history at 15th annual Fall River Rendezvous

Step back in time to when mountain men and American Indians roamed the recently acquired Louisiana Purchase territory. A time when the success of Lewis and Clark’s “Corps of Discovery” had others clamoring to follow in their footsteps, anxious to explore the unknown. Relive this time and more at the 15th Annual Fall River Rendezvous at the Fredonia Bay area of Fall River State Park. The days’ reenactments will take place on Saturday, Sept. 30 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and visitors of all ages are invited to attend.

The one-day event aims to interpret the 1800s to 1840s with a traditional rendezvous when Native Americans and mountain men camped together to trade for supplies and furs. Activities will include exploring Native American and mountain men encampments, interacting with historical traders, a black powder shoot, tomahawk throw, skillet throw for ladies, and a kids’ gold rush.

For more information, contact park manager Kimberly Jones at (620) 637-2213. Find more information about Fall River State Park at KSOutdoors.com.

What happened to the tiny Key deer during Hurricane Irma?

By David Goodhue

Miami Herald

The federally protected Key deer were exposed to Hurricane Irma and authorities will assess their situation when it’s safe to return to the Keys.

Dan Clark superintendent of the National Key Deer Refuge, said his first priority as the massive storm approached was to evacuate National Wildlife Refuge personnel assigned to the area.

“After we receive information from Monroe County that it is safe to return and we can inhabit the Lower Keys, a post-storm assessment of our facilities and residences will be conducted to determine if we can operate,” Clark said.

The small deer, whose estimated numbers range from 800 to 1,000, live mostly on the Lower Keys islands of Big Pine Key and Little Torch Key.

It’s been a traumatic couple of years for the Keys treasures. First, after a nasty infection by the larvae of a parasitic fly called the screwworm began to infest the population in the fall of 2016. Not only did the screwworm take out a significant portion of the already-sensitive local deer population, it killed the animals slowly and painfully.

The infestation was finally eliminated after scientists released roughly 124 million sterile screwworm flies to mate with wild flies. The mating process results in eggs that never hatch. Five months after introducing the lab-made flies, the screwworm problem was over.

Then, earlier this summer, two young men – one from Miami-Dade County and the other from Broward – were arrested in Little Torch Key July 2 after a traffic stop by a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputy revealed three live deer stowed in their car. Two does were in the back seat of the Hyundai Sonata, and a buck was in vehicle’s trunk.

The buck was badly injured in the ordeal and wildlife officials euthanized him. The men face federal poaching charges.

Now comes Irma, which has raked much of the Keys with its high winds, hard rain and damaging storm surges. The key deer habitat is only about 15 miles east of where Irma’s eye made landfall in the Keys Sunday morning.

What’s become of the key deer is not known. But, Clark said, not much could have been done to protect the wild animals from Mother Nature.

“Since the federal-trust resources on the Keys refuge are wild, we do not have specific plans to collect any deer,” Clark said. “We do not have the capacity to do so and husbandry following the hurricane would be extremely difficult.”

Like all other agencies planning to come back down to the Keys post-Irma, Clark said he and his staff have no idea what types of conditions to which they are returning so they can’t adequately plan their response when it comes to the deer.

“We will assess the status of all refuge resources when it is safe to do so and we have the ability to do so,” Clark said.

Flint Hills Nature Trail opens with Rush the Rails celebration

Where locomotives once chugged across the eastern-Kansas prairie, hikers, joggers and bicyclists can trek the same route today along the 95-mile Flint Hills Nature Trail. On Saturday, October 7, the long-awaited pathway celebrates its grand opening with relay races, bike rides and trail-wide festivities during its Rush the Rails event.

From trailhead to trailhead – starting at Osawatomie in the east to Council Grove in the west – competitive runners and recreational bikers will pass through welcoming small towns and stunning scenery. Four- and eight-person relay teams set out at 7:30 a.m. from John Brown Park in Osawatomie and run the entire 96-mile route (a short detour adds an extra mile to the 95-mile trail). Bikers, on the other hand, can choose from three distances: the full 96 miles starting at Osawatomie (7a.m.), 54 miles from Pomona State Park (8:30 a.m.), or 25 from Admire (10:30 a.m.), with all running and cycling events ending in Council Grove (pre-registration required by September 23 for all events).

“There’s so much beauty to see along the trail – from the eastern woodlands and the Marais des Cygnes River and its rocky bluffs on the east to the stunning Flint Hills on the west,” says LeLan Dains, Rush the Rails organizer, about the prairie pathway.

Dains also serves as operations manager for Dirty Kanza Promotions, which is helping manage Rush the Rails and is renowned for its annual Dirty Kanza 200 endurance ride through the Flint Hills. “We’re so pleased that Dirty Kanza, producers of its famous gravel grind, is helping to launch our trail and grand-opening event,” says Linda Craghead, assistant secretary of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

Rush the Rails passes by 10 towns, among the largest Osawatomie, Ottawa, Pomona, Osage City, Admire and Council Grove. Osawatomie kicks off Rush the Rails Friday night, October 6, with a bonfire, free hot-dog roast and live music by the Route 66 band at John Brown Park. On Saturday, a musket firing starts the bike ride beginning at 7 a.m. at the park. To the west, Ottawa gears up with a street dance, food trucks and beer garden Friday night and vendors and kids’ bike activities on Saturday morning, when the participants will pass through.

Farther west, Pomona State Park hosts food and craft vendors and offers free park entrance for the day at Saturday’s Fall Festival. Osage City joins in with food and crafts booths, inflatable games for kids and an ice-cream social at Santa Fe Park. Admire, where the 25-mile short-distance bike ride begins, plans to open its North Lyon County Historical Museum for the day and serve refreshments.

Finally, Council Grove wraps it up with its Rush the Rails Finish Line Celebration at the town’s landscaped Neosho Riverwalk, a paved walkway that connects with the Flint Hills Nature Trail along the Neosho River banks. Day-long Riverwalk entertainment includes food vendors, kids’ games and bike rodeo, an Antique and Unique Bike Show, live music, a beer garden and fireworks along the river.

Organizers point out that the events in trailside towns aren’t just for the racers and bikers. “We want everyone to come to the finish line or along the trail and cheer these people on,” says Council Grove organizer Ricci Ziegler.

Linda Craghead adds, “Even if you can’t make it to Rush the Rails that day, we encourage you to check out the family-friendly trail any time and discover the scenic sections and quaint towns all along the way.”

Flint Hills Nature Trail has been a 15-year undertaking by the volunteer organization Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Kansas Department of Transportation. Today, the crushed limestone corridor replaces a railway abandoned in the 1980s, but the charm of old rail bridges and other railroad remnants remain.

Scott Allen, vice president of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, bikes the 95-mile route and marvels at the diversity. “What makes this unique is the varied terrain you pass through,” he says.

The tree-canopied section at the east end follows along the scenic Marais des Cygnes River and its bridges, with pretty falls in the background. Pomona and beyond leads past remains of old railroad towns, Hobo Rock, and Melvern and Pomona lakes. Remnants of coal mines are visible from the trail in the Osage City area. Just 3 1/2 miles outside of Council Grove in the heart of the Flint Hills, the route skirts the 158-acre Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park, owned by the Kaw Nation, and its monument to the Unknown Kaw Warrior and ruins.

“The section through the Flint Hills is literally breathtaking,” Scott says. “You’re awed by what the Flint Hills truly has to offer. I like to say it’s the most isolated you can get in the Flint Hills without permission!”

Ricci Ziegler agrees: “Sunsets on the trail heading toward Council Grove are absolutely gorgeous. I love riding anywhere along the trail because of the amount of wildlife you see every time, sometimes foxes and coyotes, or maybe turkey and deer.”

The biking is easy, too, for all ages and ability, Ricci adds. “You don’t have to worry about vehicle traffic on the trail because it’s all non-motorized, and there’s never more than a 3-percent grade since it’s an old rail bed.”

Towns strategically dotted the old rail line about every 10 miles, giving today’s trail users regular stop-offs to visit local cafes and attractions.

The final phase, yet to be completed, will stretch the Flint Hills Nature Trail west from Council Grove to Herington, for a total length of 117 miles. While Flint Hills Nature Trail ranks as the longest in Kansas, other established rail trails pass through scenic sections of the state as well. “We’re looking forward to the grand opening of our newest trail, but urge people to experience all the great trails in Kansas,” says Linda Craghead.

Among other rail trails to explore:

–Prairie Spirit Trail, 52 miles long from Ottawa, where it intersects with the Flint Hills Nature Trail, to Iola.

–Southwind Rail Trail, located at the south end of the Prairie Spirit Trail at Iola, running 6 ½ miles to Humboldt.

–Landon Trail, includes five developed miles within the city of Topeka and eight miles in Shawnee County, eventually covering 38 miles and connecting with the Flint Hills Nature Trail near Pomona.

–Blue River Trail, starts at Marysville and run 13 miles north along the Big Blue River, connecting with Nebraska’s 68-mile Chief Standing Bear Trail at the Nebraska line.

–Prairie Sunset Trail, 15 miles through farm country from Garden Plain to Wichita.

Soar over to KWEC’s Butterfly Festival

All things “butterfly” will be the focus of the Kansas Wetlands Education Center’s (KWEC) Butterfly Festival from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 16.

From magic shows to tagging monarch butterflies, kids and adults will find plenty to do during this free event. New this year, “Butterfly Magic” – a puppet magic show performed by the Fishin’ Magicians, Steve Craig and Amy Short – will explore the mystery of the butterfly life cycle through magic, puppets and humor.

“We’re excited to have Steve Craig and Amy Short present their unique brand of humor and magic during the festival this year,” said Curtis Wolf, KWEC site manager.

The Fishin’ Magicians will perform three 30-minute shows at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., sponsored by the Grace Van Skike Memorial and Landmark National Bank.

After filling up on laughs, visitors can grab a net and tags to help capture and tag butterflies. Participants will receive information about the tagging process before heading out with a tagging leader to search for monarch butterflies. Over the past two years, 13 tagged monarchs released from KWEC have been recovered from winter roosts in Mexico.

Weather permitting, an exhibit beehive will be on display in the insect zoo, in addition to giant walking stick insects, hissing and peppered cockroaches, butterflies, caterpillars and chrysalises.

Kids can play in the mud, make a seed bomb filled with soil and native flower seeds, channel their inner insect by taking a photo at the monarch butterfly and caterpillar photo boards and dress-up area, and create caterpillar and butterfly crafts in the classroom.

Plan to spend the morning, as door prizes will be presented around noon, along with free milkweed plants (one per family). Information on butterfly-friendly plants will be also available, along with examples of butterfly-friendly plants in the KWEC pollinator garden.

Light refreshments and drinks will be provided.

For more information on this event, contact the KWEC at 1-877-243-9268 or visit www.wetlandscenter.fhsu.edu.

Night fishing: Lights, whites, action!

It’s summer in Kansas, and that means daytime temperatures in the 90s and lake temperatures in the 80s. During the day, fishing can be tough. However, when the sun goes down, it’s a different story, and for anglers who love to catch hard-fighting and abundant white bass, there’s a secret weapon: the night light.

Young of the year gizzard shad are big enough to attract hungry white bass by early or mid-July. On calm days, you may see white bass chasing shad on the surface, and if you can get within casting distance, fishing can be good but usually short-lived before the school of whites goes back to deeper water. And you’ll have to deal with hot weather and heavy boat and personal watercraft traffic.

It’s a different story at night. The temperature cools, the wind dies, and recreational boaters crowd the ramps quitting for the day. Night anglers go against the grain and have the lakes to themselves. The first order is to locate fish, using sonar to search river channel breaks, mid-lake humps or other structure in 15-25 feet of water. When schools of gizzard shad are seen suspended over structure, it’s time to set the anchor.

Once the anchor takes hold, it’s time for the light. Most anglers use a submersible halogen light, which is set just below the boat hull and emits a bright halo. It’s almost mesmerizing to watch the light as shad begin showing up and circling. If all goes right, the disoriented shad will attract white bass, which hang just below and pick off stragglers.

That’s when anglers pick off the white bass, fishing jigs vertically. Watch the sonar to determine how deep the white bass are holding and try to adjust your jig to just above them. Some nights, the fishing can be as hot as the daytime temperatures.

A quick look at the 2017 Fishing Forecast, www.ksoutdoors.com, shows Melvern, Clinton, Cedar Bluff, Cheney and Glen Elder to the be the Top Five reservoirs for white bass, both for numbers and quality sized fish. Night fishing for whites under the lights is a great way to enjoy the coolest part of the summer and catch lots of fish.

On your mark, get set, gobble


Spring turkey season is about to kick off and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism knows the last thing you want to worry about is where you’ll be able to hunt this year. You don’t need to resort to begging, or even paying – KDWPT has nearly 275,000 acres open to the public for spring turkey hunting this year, and access is offered free of charge. It’s all at your fingertips in the 2017 Spring Turkey Hunting Atlas.


Available online now at ksoutdoors.com, and soon to be in print wherever licenses are sold, the 2017 Spring Turkey Hunting Atlas provides the locations of Walk-in Hunting Access (WIHA) areas, as well as state and federal public lands open to spring turkey hunting. Grab a paper copy for the truck, download a PDF (ksoutdoors.com) to your home computer, or download the files directly onto your Garmin GPS unit, and Android and iOS devices that can be used with Google Earth.


The 2017 spring turkey season starts with the youth/disabled season April 1-11, followed by the archery season April 3-11, and regular firearm (any legal equipment) season April 12-May 31. Spring turkey permits for Units 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 are available at ksoutdoors.com and at any license vendor, and hunters who have a spring turkey permit may also purchase a second turkey game tag. Buy the spring turkey permit combo by March 31 and save $7.50. A valid Kansas hunting license is required of all residents age 16 through 74 and all nonresidents, except persons hunting on their own land.


To purchase your turkey permit and optional additional game tag today, visit ksoutdoors.com/License-Permits.


“Where to hunt” is taken care of with the atlas. Now all you have to worry about is “When to hunt.”

Tuttle Creek State Park selected for BlueCHIP award

Tuttle Creek State Park near Manhattan was recently chosen to receive a $2,500 BlueCHIP Award by BlueCross BlueShield of Kansas (BCBSKS) and the Kansas Recreation and Parks Association (KRPA). BlueCHIP Awards are issued through a community health improvement program created seven years ago by KRPA and BCBSKS to recognize and reward Kansas communities that encourage and support healthy lifestyles through programs, initiatives, policies and/or community-wide events.

In addition to Tuttle Creek State Park, communities recognized this year include Baldwin City, Derby, City of Lindsborg, Shawnee County – Topeka, and Wellington. Each received $2,500 to assist with continued efforts to improve the health of their communities. The awards were presented at the 2017 KRPA Annual Conference and Trade Show in Manhattan.

According to Tuttle Creek State Park manager Todd Lovin, the BlueChip award will be used to purchase additional canoes, kayaks and paddling equipment. The state park sponsors several floats on the Kansas River each year, and boats and equipment are made available to those who don’t have their own.

Tuttle Creek State Park includes four units (River Pond, Fancy Creek, Cedar Ridge and Randolph) around Tuttle Creek Reservoir. In addition to a swimming beach, boat ramps, courtesy docks and dump stations, the park offers 159 water/electric campsites, eight electric/water/sewer campsites, 24 electric-only campsites, 500 primitive campsites and 11 rental cabins. Activities offered include hiking, biking and equestrian trails; disc golf; volleyball; horseshoes; a state-of-the-art shooting range; and archery range. Learn more about Tuttle Creek State Park at www.ksoutdoors.com or call the park office at 785-539-7941.