Ladies, Become an Outdoors Woman in just one weekend

Long gone are the days where you simply “like” other women’s Facebook posts of their latest catches, never posting your own. Gawking at the gals of the outdoor hunting shows with admiration? A thing of the past. Never again will you peruse the hiking boots section unsure of what to get. This year is the year you become outdoorsy. This is the year you sign up for the Becoming An Outdoors Woman (BOW) workshop, Sept. 16-18 at the Rock Springs 4-H Center in Junction City.

Each spring and fall, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism hosts a women-only workshop designed to give ladies age 18 and older a crash-course in outdoor life. BOW classes are taught by friendly and experienced instructors who pride themselves on providing a low-pressure atmosphere, and the best part is, participants can pick and choose which classes they attend. Sessions are provided on a multitude of topics, including archery, fly fishing, camping, rifle shooting, wild game cooking, canoeing, outdoor photography, geocaching, wilderness survival, and more.

The cost to attend is $235 per participant and includes seven meals, two nights of lodging, instruction, supplies, and use of equipment. Registration will be open to first-time participants only through July 10. After July 10, the registration period will be open to all.

No experience is necessary to attend. Three $100 scholarships are available for first-time participants, based on financial need.

For more information, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click “Education,” then “Becoming an Outdoor Woman,” or visit the BOW Facebook page at “Becoming An Outdoors Woman KANSAS.”

Arkansas River named National Water Trail

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has announced that a portion of the Arkansas River in Kansas has been designated a National Water Trail by the National Park Service. It is an honor shared by the Kansas River – the first such trail named in the state.

The Arkansas River National Water Trail is 192 miles long, begins in Great Bend, Kansas and ends at the Kansas-Oklahoma border southeast of Arkansas City. It runs through widely varied prairie and woodland habitats and passes a number of cities along its course. Although the Arkansas River enters Kansas at the Colorado border west of Syracuse, it is frequently dry in the western part of the state.

Most streams and rivers in Kansas are privately owned, but the Arkansas River, Kansas River and the Missouri River are “navigable waters,” and are open to the public between the ordinary high water marks on each bank. When these rivers flow through private land, permission is needed from adjacent landowners to access the rivers. Currently, 22 access points have been developed along the Arkansas River in partnership with cities, counties and private landowners, providing access for recreational paddling, fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities.  .

“This designation is a tremendous honor for the people and communities who have worked for decades to build a foundation of respect for our Arkansas River. Our next steps will be focused on providing users with the information they need to enjoy all that our river has to offer. By engaging even more citizens through supporting responsible use of our water resources, the health and biodiversity of the Arkansas River ecosystem will only continue to improve,” said Jessica Mounts, who is leading the project at KDWPT.

For more information about river access in Kansas, visit ksoutdoors.com and click on Activities, Rivers. Information about the National Water Trails System is located at www.nps.gov/watertrails.

Tick Busters

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to tick prevention – the only guarantee is that ticks will be around – but a proactive approach can minimize the potential for lifelong health issues, and reduce these pests to a simple, minor annoyance.

Tick numbers usually peak in early June, but depending on spring temperatures, they can be common from April through July. If you spend time in the woods and in grassy areas, you’re going to attract ticks. And we know that in addition to being bloodsucking pests, they can spread serious blood-borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. So how do you protect yourself?

Start by wearing light-colored clothing with long sleeves and pants. Keep the pantlegs tucked into your socks. Do periodic checks and be sure to examine yourself after your outing.

Use a repellent. Most people who spend time outdoors are familiar with the ingredient DEET, contained in many commercial insect repellents. It can be sprayed directly on your skin, and repellents that contain 20 percent to 30 percent DEET will repel ticks for several hours. Permethrin is another option. Unlike DEET, which only repels ticks, permethrin causes muscle spasms, paralysis, and death for ticks if they touch it or consume it. Permethrin-based products currently on the market can also last up to six washes, making a bottle go a long way. And the best part? It’s odorless; however, because of its potent abilities, permethrin can only be applied to clothing and fabric.

Permethrin-based sprays can be purchased at most major retailers and is roughly the same price as popular repellents containing DEET. Look for a spray that contains at least 0.5 percent of permethrin. Pre-treated clothing containing permethrin is also available.

When treating clothing with permethrin on your own, be sure to read the instructions carefully. Apply the spray in a well-ventilated area, or outside. Then, let clothes air-dry by hanging them up on a line, or by leaving them out on a porch or outdoor table. Once dry, the treated clothing can be worn immediately.

The next time you embark on an outdoor adventure, make sure you’ve got the right spray, and prevent these tiny critters from creating big problems.

Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission approves waterfowl seasons

The Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission approved season dates and regulations for the 2017 dove and waterfowl hunting seasons at a public hearing in Wichita on April 21. Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) staff have discussed migratory bird hunting regulations at previous meetings in January and March. In the past, these seasons were voted on in August, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service changed the timeframe for having seasons set this year.

The Commission approved dove seasons of Sept. 1-Nov. 29, 2016. This season is for migratory doves (mourning and white-winged) and exotic doves (collared and ringed turtle).  The season for exotic doves is Nov. 30, 2016-Feb. 28, 2017. The aggregate daily bag limit for morning and white-winged doves is 15 and the possession limit is 45. There is no daily bag limit or possession limit on exotic doves.

The Commission also approved the 2016 duck and goose seasons.

September Teal Season: Low Plains Zone – Sept. 10-25, 2016; High Plains Unit – Sept. 17-25, 2016.

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days: High Plains Unit – Oct. 1-2, 2016; Low Plains Early Zone – Oct. 1-2, 2016; Low Plains Late Zone – Oct. 22-23, 2016; Low Plains Southeast Zone ­– Nov. 5-6, 2016.

Ducks: High Plains Unit – Oct. 8, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017 and Jan. 20-29, 2017; Low Plains Early Zone – Oct. 8-Dec. 4, 2016 and Dec. 17, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017; Low Plains Late Zone – Oct. 29, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017 and Jan. 21-29, 2017; Low Plains Southeast Zone – Nov. 12, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017 and Jan. 7-29, 2017.

Daily bag limit is six ducks with the following restrictions: five mallards (no more than two may be hens), three scaup, three wood ducks, two redheads, two pintails and two canvasbacks.

Dark Geese: Oct. 29, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017 and Jan. 4-Feb. 12, 2017

Daily bag limit is six dark geese (Canada or brant)

White-fronted Geese: Oct. 29, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017 and Jan. 21-Feb. 12, 2017

Daily bag limit is two white-fronted geese.

Light Geese: Oct. 29, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017 and Jan. 4-Feb. 12, 2017

Daily bag limit is 50 light geese (snow geese and Ross’ geese) no possession limit.

Possession limit on migratory birds is three times the daily bag limit.

Hunt safely for turkeys and mushrooms

The Kansas Spring Turkey Season opened April 12 and is in full swing through May 31. Reports from the field indicate that birds are plentiful and responding to hunters’ calls. However, the tradition of spring turkey hunting, where the hunter hides in full camouflage while imitating the call of a hen, requires special safety consideration.

Turkey hunting can be excellent on state wildlife areas, as well as the nearly 250,000 acres of private land  enrolled in the Spring Walk-In Hunting Access Program. Hunters on public land must always assume other hunters are there, too. Although hunting in Kansas is safer than playing golf, when you consider injuries per 100,000 participants, one tragic hunting-related accident is too many. A few simple precautions can help ensure you or another hunter don’t become a statistic.

First, never wear the colors black, blue or red, the colors prominent on a tom turkey as it displays for a hen. Set up to call with a good view in front and a tree wider than your shoulders at your back. A shoulder-width tree to lean against will protect you if another hunter stalks in from behind. If you see another hunter, whistle or call out; never wave or move, which could draw fire. Always assume a sound you hear is another hunter, and act accordingly. Many hunters will wear a fluorescent orange hat or vest when they walk out after hunting, or if they are successful, they may wrap an orange vest around their bird as they carry it out. Hunting-related accidents during the spring turkey season are rare, but let’s keep it that way.

Another kind of hunter in the woods this time of year is hunting morel mushrooms, and reports from the field indicate that hunters are finding them now. It is legal to pick morels on state and federal public hunting land as long as they are kept for personal consumption. Mushrooms collected on state and federal lands may not be sold commercially. Spring Walk-In Hunting Access land is leased for hunting access only. Morels found incidentally by turkey hunters on WIHA lands may be collected for personal use. Mushroom hunters should assume they will encounter turkey hunters on public lands, but potential conflict can be minimized by hunting mushrooms mid-day. Most turkey hunters prefer to be in the woods at daybreak and are often calling it a day by mid-morning.

Back-to-back birding events coming up

Kansas bird enthusiasts, get your pens and keyboards ready because two exciting events in April and May should be on your calendars. The 2016 Kansas Birding Festival will be held April 29-30 at the United Methodist Church, Wakefield, at the north end of Milford Lake. Highlights of this event include guided field trips to the lake area marshes, parks and woodlands; finger food, wine and cheese reception at Tom’s Taxidermy in Wakefield; early morning field trips to see and hear the booming of greater prairie chickens on Saturday; and a banquet, featuring Dr. David Rintoul of Kansas State University, giving festival attendees an insight on birdlife and bird conservation efforts in New Zealand.

Local experts will also give attendees advice on best locations for those who wish to explore the area on their own.

The second organized birding event that is a must-do is the Kansas Ornithological Society’s (KOS) spring meeting, May 6-8 at Camp Horizon, just east of Arkansas City. This traveling annual spring event provides opportunities for birders to experience Kansas birding during one of the best bird watching weekends of the year. The event will kick off with a welcome reception at Camp Horizon Friday evening and include all-day fieldtrips on Saturday, and half-day trips on Sunday led by enthusiastic experts.

The Saturday evening program, “Wildlife Down Under,” will feature a presentation from Bob Gress, retired director of the Wichita Great Plains Nature Center, who will share his recent experiences observing and photographing wildlife in Australia.

If you’re excited about Kansas birds, don’t miss out on these opportunities to meet folks with a shared passion, and experience some great birding!

For more information on the 2016 Kansas Birding Festival and to register, visit http://ksbirds.org/KBF2016.htm

For more information on the KOS spring meeting and to register, visit http://ksbirds.org/kos/KOS_Spring_2016.html

2016 Fishing Forecast ready for anglers

Anglers like to keep their best fishing holes secret, but that’s hard to do now that the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) produces the annual fishing forecast. The forecast is a compilation of data gathered by KDWPT district fisheries biologists throughout the year. The data comes from sampling efforts, including test netting, electroshocking and creel surveys. The forecast presents this data in a format that lets anglers find waters that contain their favorite species in both good numbers and the size they prefer.

For example, if you like to catch crappie, you can use the forecast to find a reservoir, lake or pond where the biologist found lots of crappie during sampling efforts last fall. A quick look at the reservoir category for white crappie shows that John Redmond Reservoir is ranked No. 1 for Density Rating, which is the number of crappie longer than 8 inches caught per unit of sampling effort. If you’re more interested in quality-sized crappie, then look at the Preferred rating, which is the number of fish caught during sampling that were 10 inches long or longer. Again, John Redmond is No. 1, by a large margin. Two-thirds of the fish sampled in John Redmond last fall were longer than 10 inches. The Lunker Rating (crappie longer than 12 inches) for this lake is also No. 1 among Kansas reservoirs. So, John Redmond will be a great place to catch crappie this year, both in terms of numbers and size.

Theoretically, a reservoir with a Density Rating of 32 will have twice as many crappie 8 inches long or longer than a lake with a Density Rating of 16. However, there are often other factors that may influence sampling results, and some lakes may not be sampled every year, so the forecast includes other ratings such as the Biologist’s Rating. A biologist may feel that the numbers don’t accurately reflect the fish population, so they enter a rating of Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor. The Three-year Average is there because a lake may not have been sampled this past year. It shows an average of the past three years of Density Ratings. And finally, there is a Biggest Fish rating, which simply lists the biggest fish caught during sampling.

Anglers can view the forecast at www.ksoutdoors.com, and in printed brochures that will soon be available at KDWPT offices. Use the 2016 Fishing Forecast to find your own fishing hot spots this spring.

Thirty-two fishing spots to catch trout in Kansas

We know what you’re thinking: trout in Kansas? Impossible. But, it’s true. While these spotted beauties may not be native to the Sunflower state, that doesn’t mean anglers fishing in Kansas can’t enjoy luring one ashore this winter. Thanks to a special program offered by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, anglers can catch stocked rainbow trout at more than 30 public waters across the state. Trout are stocked in a total of 32 spots during the trout season, which is open through April 15. Waters are categorized as Type 1, which require all anglers to possess a $14.50 trout permit, and Type 2, which require only those fishing for or possessing trout to purchase the permit.

The $14.50 permit is valid for the calendar year and can be purchased wherever licenses are sold and online at ksoutdoors.com. In addition to the trout permit, resident anglers age 16-74 and nonresidents 16 and older must also have a fishing license. Unless posted otherwise, the daily creel limit is 5 trout. Anglers 15 and younger do not need a trout permit, but they may only keep two trout per day.


Cedar Bluff Stilling Basin

Dodge City Lake Charles

Fort Scott Gun Park Lake

Glen Elder State Park (SP) Pond

Kanopolis Seep Stream

KDOT East Lake in Wichita

Lake Henry in Clinton SP

Mined Land Wildlife Area (WA) Unit #30

Pratt Centennial Pond

Walnut River Area in El Dorado SP

Willow Lake at Tuttle Creek SP

Webster Stilling Basin

Sandsage Bison Range and WA Sandpits (Periodically Dry)

Vic’s Lake and Slough Creek in Sedgwick County Park

Topeka Auburndale Park

Garnett Crystal Lake


Sherman County Smoky Gardens Lake (Periodically Dry)

Solomon River between Webster Reservoir and Rooks County #2 Road

Fort Riley Cameron Springs

Lake Shawnee – Topeka

Salina Lakewood Lake

Moon Lake on Fort Riley

Scott SP Pond

Hutchinson Dillon Nature Center Pond

Atchison City Lake # 1

Belleville City Lake (Rocky Pond) (Periodically Dry)

Holton-Elkhorn Lake

Syracuse Sam’s Pond

Cimarron Grasslands Pits

Colby Villa High Lake

Great Bend Vet’s Lake


Cherokee County – Mined Land WA No. 30

*Because trout survive through the summer here, a trout permit is required year-round for anglers utilizing the lake.

Residents 16-74 years old, and all non-residents 16 and older must also have a valid fishing license. The daily creel limit is five trout unless otherwise posted. Anglers 15 and younger may fish without a trout permit, but are limited to two trout per day, or they may purchase a permit and take five trout per day. Possession limit for trout is 15.

For information on trout stocking schedules, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click Fishing/Special Fishing Programs for You/Trout Fishing Program.

Waterfowl enthusiasts invited to Kansas Ducks Unlimited State Convention

You don’t have to be a waterfowl hunter, or a hunter at all, to be welcomed at the 2016 Kansas Ducks Unlimited State Convention in Hutchinson, Feb. 19-20. If you have a passion for conserving waterfowl and believe in the magic of a marsh, there’s a seat for you at this fun event. The convention will take place at the Atrium Hotel and Conference Center, 1400 North Lorraine, and rooms can be reserved at a discounted rate by calling (620) 669-9311.

Event activities include a kick-off party Friday evening, followed by a Kansas Conservation Update Saturday morning and an awards ceremony and banquet Saturday night. Optional wine tasting will be available for ladies only on Saturday with prior registration, and vendor merchandise will be on sale throughout the two-day event.

For more information, and to purchase admission tickets, contact Lynne Rozine at (913) 909-0622.

Look for El Niño surprises during the Great Backyard Bird Count

From The Outdoor Wire

With the El Niño weather phenomenon warming Pacific waters to temperatures matching the highest ever recorded, participants in the 2016 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), may be in for a few surprises. The 19th annual GBBC is taking place worldwide February 12 through 15. Information gathered and reported online at birdcount.org will help scientists track changes in bird distribution, some of which may be traced to El Niño storms and unusual weather patterns.

“The most recent big El Niño took place during the winter of 1997-98,” says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program which collects worldwide bird counts year-round and also provides the backbone for the GBBC. “The GBBC was launched in February 1998 and was pretty small at first. This will be the first time we’ll have tens of thousands of people doing the count during a whopper El Niño.”

“We’ve seen huge storms in western North America plus an unusually mild and snow-free winter in much of the Northeast,” notes Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham. “And we’re seeing birds showing up in unusual places, such as a Great Kiskadee in South Dakota, as well as unseasonal records like Orchard Oriole and Chestnut-sided Warbler in the Northeast. We’re curious to see what other odd sightings might be recorded by volunteers during this year’s count.”

Though rarities and out-of-range species are exciting, it’s important to keep track of more common birds, too. Many species around the world are in steep decline and tracking changes in distribution and numbers over time is vital to determine if conservation measures are needed. Everyone can play a role.

“Citizen-science projects like the Great Backyard Bird Count are springing up all over the world,” says Jon McCracken, national program manager at Bird Studies Canada. “More and more, scientists are relying on observations from the public to help them gather data at a scale they could never achieve before. The GBBC is a great way to get your feet wet: you can count birds for as little as 15 minutes on one day or watch for many hours each day at multiple locations–you choose your level of involvement.”

Learn more about how to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count at birdcount.org. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with  partner Bird Studies Canada and is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.