August 2005 Updates

31 Aug

Deer Tags
Reminder to all that plan to deer hunt Kansas and Iowa that we need a copy of your license clearly showing name, year, tag type and number. FAX or snail mail copies are fine.

29 Aug

Kansas Fall Jakes
For those that want some tender thanksgiving meals. Kansas best kept secret - turkey hunting.

NC Kansas hybrid turkeys (above) a cross between the Rio Grande and Eastern turkey. It appears the Eastern may becoming the dominant species in an area that was once inhabited only by the Rio Grande.

And, another Jake flock (center), Easterns in eastern Kansas.

A small point about the value of being out on the land 12 months of the year is this picture of two hens and 11+ fledglings. In this case a late hatch, late summer birds we accidentally found on the road allowing for a clear picture of the young birds of the year of which a couple made it to the grass at the far right.

Such sightings through the year add up and give us a more complete picture of the better regions.

Mule Deer
Yes, sometimes our job is pretty cool when we get to see animals such as this fawn. Times like this make up for the 14 hour days meeting with landowners.

25 Aug

Some quail from our "road survey" this past week. Three times+ this many birds made it to cover faster than we could take a picture. Just one of many coveys spotted.

Bachelor group bucks in velvet. The one far left was a true trophy at 12 points.

Land
This summer has been very dry, especially on the Missouri side, but the last couple of weeks it's cooled down and we have had an abundance of well needed rainfall, which was beneficial to both the farmers and wildlife.

NW and SW Kansas the last couple of years has been very dry and the cover for upland birds has been sparse, especially NW Kansas. At this time, the conditions look much better and we've seen a lot of young birds.

While renewing leases we've had positive feedback from the landowners of our hunters using their land, but everyone must always be reminded the behavior of the hunters is critical for the renewal of our leases, so always treat the land as if it was your own and everyone will be happy. All of us need to guard against that 1% that just can not seem to fit in.

Several landowners have passed away during the off season and several farms have changed hands, so please remember reservations are required before scouting as well as hunting. If a hunter unexpectedly shows up on a piece of property that has sold or changed hands it might cause an unexpected problem.

Our goal is to have all of the leases final by the end of September and the new maps will be available early October. If you are planning to hunt muzzleloader in Kansas or archery hunt Missouri the last 2 weeks of September, the maps available at this time are far more than enough, so please don't ask for new maps. The beginning date of the new leases typically start in October.

Every year we get calls requesting recommendations of places to dove hunt. Dove hunting (much harvesting is on going at that time) is not allowed on a lot of our leases and it’s a very busy time of the year for us, so it’s a low priority.

If you are looking for a place to dove hunt, we've traditionally seen the most dove in NC and NW Kansas. We recommend you pick a map with an abundance of acreage and drive the roads until you find a concentration of dove and make a reservation accordingly.

All of the new leases (04) in SW KS do not begin until Oct. 1 so these will not be available to dove hunt until then.

During the off-season, we made some improvements on the waterfowl leases and hope to reap the benefits this fall. The water conditions look real good on the majority of our leases, but we still need some rain in Henry County. The big rains last week passed just north and south of Henry County, but we did get enough to improve what we have and fill the irrigation lakes in Cass and Bates County.

Buddy Hunt
It is time to update the buddy hunt list of all members wanting to link up with other members of similar hunting discipline. What we will do is collect the names, telephone numbers, hunting interest and if there is a dog on to a single list and all on that list will receive a copy. The members then call others that have a similar profile and schedule to hunt together. To be included on the list please email Shaun, the Association secretary, with your information. Good hunting to all!

20 Aug

Deer
While we get to see a fair number of good bucks as we travel about they are as hard to capture on film as to harvest. While not an exceptional rack this in-velvet racked buck has a fair bit of size to him as best as we can show in this picture by our little camera. On the same trip we also had the chance to see one other racked buck that had just started to rub off his velvet.

Pheasant
From the same land run as the buck above these juvenile pheasants crossed the road for us. Between the quail and pheasants just seen from the roads we look to have a good season.

Waterfowl
Wetlands work is just about wrapped up with drainage, planting, levee repairs and now waiting to flood.

Photos of a 24" pipe and new gate that was installed to replace the old concrete drop log structure on the east marsh in Cass A.

The second is a new gate for the pipe in Henry D. A new gate was also built to replace the old gate on the back side of the pipe.

Thanks to member Bruce Johnson for volunteering his time and tools to weld and install the gates.

Memberships
The same concern we have every year at this time and request membership assistance with is to follow up and settle all those with friends that are wanting to join for this fall's seasons.

We want to avoid as much as we can the inevitable and that is the last 30 days before the start of the regular fall seasons we have a rush of new members. Getting the new membership applications work completed before members start calling in to make hunting reservations is better than the endless phone ringing that has traditionally been the case all day long within that first 30 day reservation window. During that time period between new members coming aboard, recommendations of where to hunt and working reservations nails us to the office far more than what we would like as it is when your land staff is out of the office and on the land that Association benefits the most.

We are probably close to whining at this point so we'll cut it off with this thought for the cynics. The MAHA staff is not seeking more field time for their own fishing as any with time under their belt in the Association knows that once hunting season kicks in we can actually rest a bit from all the work required to put together this amount of land. Good hunting to all as the land contracting has gone well and there is much land to be hunted!

Hummmmmm....
Jason and Becky sent is some feedback covering a good variety of topics and included this picture from this past spring turkey season. While we receive a good bit of feedback through out the year from a good number of members every once in a while there is something new - even after all these years. We share with all of you, with permission, this bull story!

The story was they had pulled up to a property to turkey scout. They had been parked between the road and fence long enough to gather some items and when they stepped out of their truck this bull was waiting for them with only the fence separating them. They never saw or heard him come up and did not know he was in the pasture. He was snorting and drooling the entire time never taking his eyes off them. Jason and Becky decided not to cross that pasture.

Thanks y'all for another good hunt'n story that'll be tough to beat.

17 Aug

ATV
We almost had a top notch pheasant lease fail to renew over the use of an ATV by a group of Missouri bird hunters on club property during the 04 season. What saved us was the landowner didn't get the name of the hunter and we're not 100% sure it was a member that used the ATV.

Any type of driving through crp or crop fields is a big slap in the face to landowners from hunters. Just a reminder ATV's are not allowed for any type of upland bird hunting and having one parked on a trailer or in the back of a truck appears to a landowner they are being used to hunt with or access their land.

Once again, it's the 1% that this message applies to. We cannot take a chance to loose quality leases over bad representation from our hunters.

Fishing
Fishing the heat of summer is tough, but for those that are dedicated to the sport, the heat is just another obstacle to overcome. On a recent trip Don B. caught and released 3 bass in the 5 pound range working the tree lined shadow edge of a Missouri watershed lake at the deep end. He used a mixture of artificial and natural bait without any consistent results.

12 Aug

Land
This month seems to be an interesting month for hunter feedback referencing land as the most discussed topic overtaking that of the upland bird forecast or where to deer hunt. The reply to the members most common land topic about our acquiring land in closer proximity of any one metropolitan area citing our seemingly surrounding the Kansas City area cannot be equally applied to other cities.

Just a fun picture of a western Kansas Jack Rabbit moving fast. Captured on film last week while on a land run.

This land location mystery can be easily solved by anyone that takes a hydrology and elevation map and overlay it on our acreage maps. The result is our land is located on major and not so major watersheds and within those watershed mostly along the head, not the tail waters. Within the heavily agricultural central mid-west, these watersheds break up the farm fields providing for the wildlife areas and then it is a matter of specific habitat within the population range of any given huntable species we seek.

Take one of the most dramatic examples offered by Missouri waterfowl hunting. St Louis with a very heavy hunter population to include that of our Association sits at the joint of the upper and lower Mississippi River basin and outflow of the Missouri River bringing waterfowl from the Central Flyway and serves as the basis for the Mississippi Flyway. Those features alone may indicate we should be developing some of our best wetlands within the Mississippi River basin and at a short drive from St Louis. And, if we did I am sure it would be an easy sell to the St Louis waterfowl hunter. The actual hunting quality however would be far different than that which we can achieve on the micro flyways within the three sub-basins of the overall and much larger lower Missouri River basin which covers a large portion of north central (Grand River watershed), southwest (Osage River watershed) and the northwest (northwest Missouri River watershed) within Missouri and a longer drive from St Louis. The choice is hunter convenience or hunting quality. We chose quality at each turn and most hunters will agree it is better to drive a bit further for better hunting than a shorter distance and go nature walking.

10 Aug

Spring Turkey
Terry E., shows us it is never too late to send in hunt success pictures and feedback. Terry is a highly successful deer and turkey hunter that is passing those skills onto the next generation. He tells in his quick read spring turkey hunting account how easy and hard turkey hunting can be as well as on his deer page with a detailed accounting of hunt difficulty accompanied by a very good collection of pictures showing the reward for dedication to the hunt. Thank you Terry for the realistic review of your experiences.

Knowing our land contracting is year round, feedback is always collected and added to the store of regional knowledge for all future land and habitat acquisitions as well as when reviewing current contracts for habitat and land use or farming practices.

On that last point of land use and farming practices those are phrases that mean a lot to us and are part of our local lexicon or colloquial speech. This topic also falls into the category of what is routine for us is frequently of interest to members not closely associated with land leasing. So just as a matter of interest to some we provide a bit of discussion to these points.

Land use means in generally accepted terms is the land being farmed, idle, conservation, trust, investment or corporate. Farming practices include livestock with distinction between hog and cattle; forage or row crop; methods such as no-till versus plowed and large or small operations. Each has specific benefits and consequences to the different hunting disciplines and all factor into the lease decision and what money we are willing to pay. That is the short description.

The long story is a calibrated eye for habitat based on years of trial and success and trail and error from boots on the ground experience recognizing regional differences. Our motivation of course is always to have good habitat is sufficient acreage (habitat is our true product not hunting) that supports a primary hunting discipline and at lease a secondary. And, to get sufficient habitat we must lease a larger gross set of acres as this is the great plains area where farming is king. To get 400 acres of good habitat may require leasing 1,200 acres of land. What we are paying for is the 400 acres, the additional 800 acreage is part of the process to get that key habitat. That is part of the reality of land leasing in that not all acreage is good for hunting in farm country.

4 Aug

Whitetail
Biggest trophy whitetail yet! Have a read of Jeff's great and quick feedback and picture of his biggest racked buck he has ever harvested. Congratulations Jeff, we certainly enjoy seeing this kind of feedback - that of a hunter finding exactly what he was looking for and willing to go out and find it. No simple feat.

Admin
Just about every month we have an inquiry as to our future growth plan or how big we plan to get. This week alone we had two such inquires, one from a potential and one from an existing member. The typical motivation for such questions lie with those that seek employment opportunities wanting to manage an extension of MAHA within their locality and the second is more a matter of curiosity. In the past we simply answered the individual question and moved on, however with the same inquiry in a week from two gives us cause to inform all of the future growth plans. And, that answer is that we have no plan to grow any larger than we have been for the past 10 years plus.

We are at a manageable level as determined by the amount of road time we are able to spend in a year. To travel from our extreme eastern properties in Missouri to the western lease land in Kansas is a 9 hour drive. To effectively manage all that land requires a good bit of time meeting eye-to-eye with landowners. That road time also roughly equates to around 225,000 to 235,000 acres. That acreage then sustains a membership in the 800's, a soft figure based on the number of hunters separated by hunting discipline and associated land pressure, that is for example, a bow hunter compares to an upland hunter. The one year we had a high of 259,000 acres and 947 members was a killer year in terms of how much time the Association staff could expend to service all requirements. That one year (a good while ago) was the last time we will be that large and showed us our limits. Keeping the membership in the 800's with 225,000 to 240,000 acres of land is the extent of our operational reach. To do more would adversely impact on the Association.

On the issue of expanding to other states as with additional managers is also a quality criteria decision not to do so. The first basis for that decision is that any hunter with the most basic organizational skills can put together his own private lease land acreage without the need to pay someone for their advise. This business is not rocket science as all the paperwork is boilerplate in nature and this is a business that can start at the smallest levels and work up to any comfort level. This leads to the second issue not to hire additional managers and that is the time required to do well.

The hours per day and the work days per year can only be sustained by those with the will power of self determination and those people will always want the full reward for their work rather than pay franchise fees for anything they could do for themselves and create a larger profit margin. Or, more simply put, 14 hour days are long days and how many folks out there want to put that amount of effort into building any quality and pride based organization to share the profits with others? Human nature is just not that way.

1 Aug

Fishing
I knew it was too good to last. The Crappie are no longer on that tree [describing seasonal fish location changes of a super hot spot gone cold]. I tried with minnows and only caught a few little ones. Attached are some bass pics...one is from a different [location deleted]. The other 2 are 5lb bass that Mike P., and I each caught yesterday. See ya, Andrew [That is Big Bass Andrew, otherwise known as BBA a very effective catch and release bass fisherman that always produces where others may not. His partner Mike makes them untouchable when fishing together.]

Not many have been fishing this summer leaving plenty of surface water at the strip pits, watershed lakes and farm ponds untested.

Thank you to Andrew and Mike for these fine pictures of some good looking bass.

Upland Birds
T hank you to all that have sent in copies of the upland bird forecasts published to date. There are noticeably fewer at this point in the year than in previous years. It seems most of the popular magazines are avoiding the PDJ error of a while back when they showed great confidence at publishing their forecast in May for that November's hunting quality. Even that venerated bird hunting authority is taking a precautionary approach this year by placing a disclaimer of accuracy at the front of the bird forecast article in this month's issue and that issue only address birds other than quail and pheasant.

Leaving out these two, probably amongst the top of the most popularly hunted birds (dollars spent in pursuit of), seems a bit awkward however it is in compliance with most of the state agencies not offering any such predictors of these birds until they complete a survey usually later in August or September. In all cases of the articles seen to date, all are nothing more than the magazine article author interviewing and then parroting state wildlife officials. Nowhere to date have we found a forecast where an individual takes responsibility for the indicators and associated predictors. If someone has possession of such a forecast we would certainly appreciate seeing a copy of it.

Overall most state agency upland bird forecasting methods for pheasant and quail are based on surveys, typically road sighting counts or whistle counts. These are believed a good indicator of regional bird numbers. For the most part these surveys have an individual drive a set route at a set time with set number of stops at specific locations for a specific duration and listen for whistles or count birds seen along the road edge. Having the same route, stops and times each year creates a basis to compare year to year results and then assessed against historic fall season hunter reports. A measure believed to represent what exists and in the absence of anything else, a seemingly defendable approach.

The variability error of road surveys is probably incalculable if only considering the variable of land use practices along that specified route. The road surveys disregard habitat quality and its associated bird carrying capacity. Those within the land leasing industry for hunting know full well the effect of variable farming practices and land sales has on habitat and associated game production. The very reason your Association staff does not sit in its office from day to day but rather is out in the field is to sustain our hunting quality through staying on top of the land, most notably its use and secondary effect of game production. The 20,000+ acres we turn over each year mostly is due to changing land uses that render the acreage unsuitable for our needs. While we would all prefer to have knowledge of and keep the same favored hunting spots for years the reality is that land changes and so must we to have good hunting.

Disregarding the land use variable, the true failing of road surveys is they fail to examine the cause and effect of why bird numbers are what they are focusing like they do on determining current population levels alone. The same statistical approach can be gained with greater accuracy from examining the environmental factors of temperature, precipitation and others and that of historic road counts or hunter surveys. It is the environmental limiting factors that enhance or degrade bird numbers as a cause and effect relationship. Knowing that relationship and having a method by which to measure the variables of that relationship would be a more accurate measure of what truly exists.

Combining this approach with the road surveys or seasonal hunter reports would more likely result in a greater degree of accuracy. And, this is not news. Those that attempt to count upland bird numbers would do well to learn from those that count waterfowl and do so just after the peak brood periods.

The CW and FWS delve into a commendable depth of detail of statistical analysis by species and location compared to a number of environmental factors that when reading the original reports complete with more graphs than anyone less than a genus could assimilate makes the reader appreciated the abbreviated summaries published on waterfowl websites and magazines. Not only do these report tell what the population level are at the current time with historic reference, they identify the cause and effect relationship between environmental factors and population levels. These are smart people. They actually only count ducks to confirm or deny what they believe to be true based on their environmental assessment. Upland, or more acutely stated dry land ground nesting bird, counts are mostly an isolated single element survey without this environmental (both statistical and historic) cause and effect relationship.

So again, thank you to all that have sent in the upland bird reports, please continue to do so as it all adds up eventually. And, in spite of the lack of "authoritative" or state agency sanctified forecasts to date we will stand behind the forecast we made on July 1st and continue to work for the Association hunter to have as good a hunt as possible based on our year round boots on the ground, our bird dogs and the weather. Any day behind a dog is a good day, good hunting to all!

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July 2005 Updates

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