Trail run at Wilson’s Switchgrass Trail Oct. 2


Slide on some shorts, lace up your shoes, and throw on a hat because you’re invited to the “Wild Within You” trail run Oct. 2 at Wilson State Park. Held on Wilson’s famous Switchgrass Trail, runners of all skill levels can participate in either a 5k, 30k, or 50k race (with a team relay option). Day-of registration will open at 8 a.m., followed by a brief racer meeting at 8:45 a.m. The race starts at 9 a.m.

Runners will be met by aid stations along the trail offering water and assorted energy-packed snacks. Restrooms are available at the trailhead.

After the event, preregistered runners can enjoy some free race goodies, as well as enter in several drawings for prizes.

Register online at www.active.com (enter Hell Creek on Heels in the Search box), in person at the Hays Recreation Commission, 1105 Canterbury Dr, Hays, or by mailing an entry form to Wild Within You, 101 W. 3rd, Liebenthal, KS 67553. Cash or check payments are accepted and race fees are non-refundable.

Entry forms and additional information, including 50k team relay rules, is available at www.wildwithinyou.com/HellCreekOnHeels.html.

Have an adventure on us October 1


The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, are partnering to pick up your Kansas State Park entrance tab in celebration of Healthy Trails Adventure Day. On October 1, enjoy free admission to any of Kansas’ 26 state parks where you can unwind from the work week and make some new family memories.

Parkgoers can freely explore Kansas state parks by foot, bike, horse, or even canoe or kayak. Visit www.ksoutdoors.com prior to your trip to see what each state park can offer you.

When you’re ready to put up your feet, consider doing it fireside at a Kansas state park campsite or cabin, and skewer a marshmallow or two while you’re at it. For information on camping availability, amenities, and pricing, or to reserve a campsite or cabin, visit reserveamerica.com.

For more information about Healthy Trails Adventure Day, including how to find a state park near you and how to share your experiences, visit bcbsks.com/HealthyAdventure.

September smiles on hunters

After months with nothing to do but plan, scout and dream, hunters are in action now that September has arrived. Of course it kicks off with the dove season, which opened Sept. 1, but there’s so much more to come.

While not as popular as doves, snipe and rail hunting seasons also opened Sept. 1. The snipe season runs through Dec. 16, and the daily bag limit is 8, possession limit is 24. Rail season closes Nov. 9, and the daily bag limit is 25, possession limit is 75.

On Sept. 3 the deer season for youth 16 and younger and hunters with disabilities begins. This is a firearm season, allowing qualified hunters to hunt with the legal equipment listed on their permit. Youth hunters 15 and younger qualify for reduced price deer permits. The season is open through Sept. 11.

On Sept. 10, the Early Teal Season opens in the Low Plains Duck Zone (the portion of Kansas east of Kansas Highway 281). The Early Teal Season opens on Sept. 17 in the High Plains Zone, and the season closes on Sept. 25 in both zones. Daily bag limit on teal is 6 and the possession limit is 18. Hunters must have a hunting license, unless exempt by law, and all hunters required to have a hunting license must also have a Kansas State Waterfowl Permit and a Kansas HIP permit. All hunters 16 and older must also have a Federal Duck Stamp.

On Sept. 12, the Muzzleloader and Archery Deer seasons open. The Muzzleloader Deer Season ends Sept. 25, and the Archery Deer Season is open through Dec. 31, 2016. In addition to a deer permit valid during the Archery or Muzzleloader seasons, all hunters must also have a Kansas hunting license, unless exempt by law. Equipment and unit restrictions listed on permit apply.

The Early Prairie Chicken season opens on Sept. 15 in the Greater Prairie Chicken Unit. This season is open through Oct. 15, and allows hunters to walk up prairie chickens while the birds are still in loose flocks and are likely to hold for pointing dogs. In addition to a hunting license, all hunters need a $2.50 prairie chicken permit to hunt prairie chickens.

For more information on hunting seasons, license and permit requirements, and regulations, pick up the 2016 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary wherever licenses are sold, or go online, www.ksoutdoors.com. September is only 30 days long, so get ready and get busy.

Enter Wild About Kansas photo contest by Nov. 4

Kansas Wildlife and Parks magazine staff invite you to enter your favorite outdoor photographs in the 4th Annual Wild About Kansas photo contest ending Nov. 4. Participants can submit up to three photos in select categories including wildlife, other species, hunting and fishing, outdoor recreation, and landscapes. There is no fee to enter or age restrictions, and both residents and nonresidents may participate.

Participants can submit up to three photos total. Photos must be taken within the state of Kansas and must be the entrant’s original work. Images should be in JPEG or TIFF format and file size should be not less than 1mb and not more than 5mb.

Each photo will be judged on creativity, composition, subject matter, lighting, and overall sharpness. Winners will be featured in the 2017 Special Photo Issue of Kansas Wildlife and Parks magazine.

Only electronic images will be accepted and must be e-mailed, with a completed entry form, to Nadia Reimer at nadia.reimer@ksoutdoors no later than 5 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2016.

Entry forms and additional information are available at www.tdoors.com/Services/Publications/Magazine/Wild-About-Kansas

Check out FOK’s new Hydrocache locations!

Water Quality Hydrocaching is geocaching with a twist! Developed by Friends of the Kaw with the help of a Johnson County Stormwater Education grant and the Mid-American Regional Council (MARC), hydrocaching uses the geocache format to help you learn about water quality in the Kansas River.

Three caches are located at Kansas River boat ramps in metro Kansas City and ten caches are located at Best Management Practice (BMP)  sites in Johnson County that help prevent pollution from stormwater runoff. When you find the cache you will be asked to do a simple water quality test or answer a question about the BMP practice. Enter your data or answer in the cache’s log book. Earn a free canoe rental on one of our Educational Float trips after you find 10 hydrocaches!

Hydrocache locations are also entered on geocaching.com – you can register for free on this site and use your smart phone to help you find the caches. You can also report to us when you find the cache from this application. Hydrocaches coordinates:

Kaw Point Boat Ramp Hydrocache: N 39° 06.977 W 094° 36.793

Edwardsville Boat Ramp Hydrocache: N 39° 03.015 W 094° 48.987

De Soto Boat Ramp Hydrocache: N 38° 59.090 W 094° 58.481

Turkey Creek Hydrocache (Merriam) – N 39° 00.450 W 094° 41.954

Little Mill Creek Hydrocache (Shawnee) – N 38° 59.668 W 094° 44.649

Wet Pond Hydrocache (Shawnee) – N 39° 01.365 W 094° 46.900

Clear Creek Hydrocache (Shawnee) – N 39° 00.949 W 094° 50.399

Hydrodynamic Separator Hydrocache (Shawnee) – N 38° 59.958 W 094° 51.982

Retention Basin Hydrocache (Lenexa) – N 38° 58.553 W 094° 52.343

Pervious Pavement Hydrocache (Lenexa) – N 38° 57.250 W 094° 50.880

Wetland Hydrocache (Lenexa) – N 38° 57.544 W 094° 50.890

Little Cedar Creek Hydrocache (Olathe) – N 38° 52.924 W 094° 50.313

Rain Garden Hydrocache (Olathe) – N 38° 51.712 W 094° 50.716

We have already had over 130 hydrocache finds!  Have fun and be safe!

Pokemon GO going wild at Kansas state parks

Elusive Pokemon GO characters have been spotted at many Kansas state parks and nature centers, and there’s no better time to join the chase. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) welcomes Pokemon hunters stalking the virtual critters that have popped up at some of the most picturesque and educational places in Kansas. The game is an exciting new way to get outdoors and enjoy all that natural Kansas has to offer.

“Pokemon GO is both fun and distracting, so we encourage players to use common sense and follow certain safety precautions while on a Pokemon quest,” said Linda Lanterman, State Parks Director.

Some of the basic safety rules include:

  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially along trails, roads, cliffs, stream banks and lakes. It is important to watch where you place your feet to avoid a fall, poison ivy or a venomous snake.
  • Stay on trails and don’t drive off roads into unauthorized areas.
  • Don’t trespass on private property which may be adjacent to park boundaries, and don’t enter someone else’s campsite or recreational vehicle.
  • Don’t operate a vehicle or boat while distracted by the game. Watch for pedestrians, bicyclists and wildlife along roads, around boat docks and in parking areas.
  • State park entrance fees still apply. Any vehicle entering a Kansas state park must have either an annual entrance permit or a daily entrance permit. The daily entrance permit is $5 and is available at the entrance gatehouse or kiosk. All state parks are open 24 hours, except for Kaw River State Park, which is open from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Prairie Spirit Trail, which is open during daylight hours only. Players can use the self-pay stations if a park office is closed.

KDWPT sports 26 state parks and six nature centers where visitors can enjoy the outdoors and learn about the natural history of Kansas. For information about the state parks and nature centers, visit ksoutdoors.com and click on either State Parks or Education.

How to land summer bass

It’s hard to think about fishing on a sweltering summer day, but when the sun sinks toward the western horizon, everything changes. Warm water and direct sun make the bass sluggish during the day, but as evening temperatures cool, the fishing can get hot. Now it’s time to grab your bass rods and find the nearest farm pond, state fishing lake or community lake.

Pick a shady shoreline and look for brush, docks, vegetation – anything that provides dark hiding places for bass. Start out with a weedless plastic bait that can be flipped right into the cover. Fish slow and thoroughly, hitting every visible bass lair. Bass are ambush hunters and a slow meal dropped right in front of them can be irresistible.

As daylight fades and the breeze dies, tie on a topwater bait just for fun. There’s nothing like the thrill of a bass exploding on a surface lure. Fish will be more spread out now, so cast along the shore and any weedbed edges. Land the bait as close to the edge as possible, then let it sit for several seconds. Twitch it tantalizingly several times before beginning to retrieve. And it’s a good idea to pause several times during the retrieve. A brief pause can sometimes be too much for a bass watching from below, triggering an explosive strike. The anticipation can also be too much for a bass angler. When fishing topwater, wait until you feel the strike before setting the hook. If you rear back as soon as you see and hear the topwater strike, you’ll pull the bait right out of the fish’s mouth.

There are thousands of farm ponds tucked away all across Kansas’ countryside, and many have great bass fishing. Anglers need landowner permission to fish private ponds except for those leased by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and opened to public fishing through the F.I.S.H. program. To find them, download the 2016 Kansas Fishing Atlas at www.ksoutdoors.com. The atlas contains maps of all F.I.S.H. waters, as well as all other public fishing lakes and reservoirs. You’ll also find the 2016 Kansas Fishing Forecast, which will tell you which public waters have the best bass populations.

Don’t just dream about fishing this summer, take advantage of the cooler evenings and explore a Kansas farm pond, local community lake or state fishing lake. The bass are waiting.

Not too hot for froggin’

It might be too hot for golf, and it could be too hot to fish, but it’s never too hot for froggin’. The Kansas bullfrog season opened July 1 and runs through Oct. 31, and if ever there was a summer outdoor activity designed to beat the heat, it’s catching bullfrogs.

Bullfrogs are common statewide, and with more than 100,000 farm ponds, there’s bound to be a great place to catch frogs near you. Be sure to get permission on private land, but there are also many state fishing and community lakes that may provide great frogging.

Once you’ve located a good waterhole, and you can do that by listening for the bellowing croaks during the evenings, you need some basic gear. A burlap sack or fish basket to hold your frogs, old tennis shoes for wading, a quick pair of hands, and a flashlight or headlamp. That’s it, you’re ready to catch frogs. Of course there are other methods for catching, including hook and line, dip net, gig, bow and crossbow (a line must attach bow to arrow and the arrow must have a barbed head). You’ll also need a fishing license, unless exempt by law.

While frogs can be caught during the day, most frogging is done at night when they’re easier to find and it’s cooler. Stealth is required because whichever method you select, you must get close. Frogs’ eyes shine in a flashlight beam and the light seems to freeze them in place. However, your approach still needs to be slow and careful. Heavy footfalls on shore or ripples in the water will send the frog hopping, light or no light.

The ultimate challenge is to catch the frog by hand, which requires a low, quiet approach from behind, then a lightning snatch, aiming to grab the frog mid-body, just in front of the rear legs. It’s good fun, especially for kids; staying up past bedtime, wading in the shallows and getting really muddy on a warm summer night, and catching giant bullfrogs – a 12-year-old’s dream come true!

The daily limit of bullfrogs is eight and the possession limit is 24. Frog legs are wonderful table fare, usually prepared dipped in batter and deep-fat fried. Eating them is the next best thing to catching them.

Be safe on the water

Summer fun at Kansas state parks usually means being near, in or on the water. Twenty-three of our 26 state parks offer convenient access to lakes, reservoirs and rivers, providing a great way to enjoy the outdoors and beat the heat. However, fun on the water requires some common-sense safety precautions.

Remember that state park beaches do not have lifeguards. Parents should keep a close eye on youngsters and it’s a good idea to strap little ones into a properly-fitting life jacket. A toddler can disappear in an instant on a crowded beach. Older kids love to play on inflatable water toys but care must be exercised under windy conditions. A stiff Kansas wind blowing out from the beach can sweep floaters away from shore surprisingly fast.

Over the holiday weekend, reservoirs will be busy with pleasure boaters, skiers, personal watercraft, sail boats and anglers. Before boaters get to the ramp, they should be familiar with boating regulations and safety requirements, especially those concerning life jackets. Children age 12 and younger must wear a properly-fitting life jacket while on the boat, and there must be a serviceable life jacket readily accessible for everyone older than 12 onboard. The best safety precaution is to have everyone wear a life jacket while onboard. For more information on boating safety and regulations visit www.ksoutdoors.com.

While boating accidents aren’t common on Kansas waters, they do have a common theme: alcohol. Unfortunately, many boaters associate being on the water with drinking alcohol, and most boating accidents are alcohol related. Sun, waves and heat can exacerbate the effect of alcohol on judgment and coordination. Anyone planning on driving a boat should know that boating under the influence (BUI) is against the law. Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism boating officers can administer sobriety checks with breathalyzers. Anyone operating a boat with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or greater will receive a citation and lose boating privileges. To learn more about BUI enforcement, watch this video: http://ksoutdoors.com/Boating/Boating-Legally/Alcohol-and-Boating

Watching the weather forecast should also be part of preparing for a boating outing. Summer thunderstorms or high winds can make boating hazardous. Knowing the forecast and using a smartphone for weather updates while at the lake could prevent being caught in a sudden storm miles from a boat ramp.

Water recreation at Kansas state parks is safe and getting safer, but there is always some risk. However, if you make just a few precautions routine, you can ensure that your family has fun and stays safe.

WAFWA Kansas land acquisition protects Lesser Prairie-chicken habitat


The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has finalized the purchase of approximately 30,000 acres of high-quality lesser prairie-chicken habitat in southwest Kansas. The permanent protection and long-term conservation of lesser prairie-chicken habitat is an important goal of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan. Funding for this acquisition comes from the voluntary contributions of industry partners that are enrolled in the range-wide plan.

“The acquisition of Sunview Ranch is a significant positive development to conserve the lesser prairie-chicken,” said Alexa Sandoval, director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and chairman of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative Council. “This transaction involved a willing seller of land that contains prime lesser prairie-chicken habitat and furthers our goal of providing a stronghold of at least 25,000 acres in each of the ecoregions where the lesser prairie-chicken is still found. We commend all of our partners for their continued commitment to conservation of the lesser prairie-chicken.”

            The range-wide plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA and the state wildlife agencies of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. It was developed to ensure conservation of the lesser prairie-chicken through voluntary cooperation by landowners and industry. The plan allows agriculture producers and industry to continue operations while reducing impacts to the bird and its grassland habitat.

            The Sunview Ranch (formerly Tate Ranch) is in the sand sagebrush ecoregion, which covers portions of Kansas, Colorado and Oklahoma and once contained the highest density of lesser prairie-chickens in the country. The dominant vegetation on rangelands in the region is sand sagebrush, which is a native shrub typically associated with deep sandy soils in dune landscapes. Livestock grazing is the primary land use on rangeland throughout the sand sagebrush region, and through grazing leases, it will continue to be used as a management tool on the Sunview Ranch.

            “This property is one of the largest remaining contiguous tracts of sand sagebrush prairie in the region,” said Jim Pitman, Conservation Delivery Director for WAFWA. “Conserving this property in perpetuity ensures that it will remain a working ranch and continue to provide habitat for the lesser prairie-chicken in the portion of its range where the population has declined the most.”

            For more information, contact Bill Van Pelt at (602) 717-5066 or [email protected], or visit www.wafwa.org.