Membership feedback on the guest issue we posted earlier is running about 4 of every 5 respondents in support of elimination of guests in all forms. There was a twice recommended caveat that guests be permitted for fishing as our catch and release system allows fishing to be renewable. Overwhelmingly, the most recurring statement of those that commented was the issue from their perspective centered on enhancing the quality of our hunting by all means capable.
Whitetail. Craig A., sent in a nice picture spread and a hunting account telling of how he and his buddies were successful on the same trip. Thanks Craig for sharing and good luck with the many years to come.
Lease Land. Recently had an inquiry from a member asking if we accepted land quality feedback for future contracting decisions and the answer is yes and we have been getting a good bit of it on a regular basis and did not think of needing to post a reminder to all that we will resume land contracting in earnest this March. For those that would like to influence land contracting decisions simply email or call us with what your land recommendation may be. The goal is enhance that which is good and delete that which has lost its productivity.
On this topic while many would always like the land to remain consistent the reality is that changing farm practices (mostly cattle), land sales, bull dozer farm improvements, landowner death, landowner contract failure, etc., will always keep about 10% of our land in yearly turnover as has been our past experience. That means about 20,000+ acres each year drop and 20,000 replacement acres added. Now with our maps on line and several times a year updating, the maps will have changes on them throughout the year requiring all to check the latest online version before scouting, spring turkey, main fall seasons, etc. And, that updating should mean the actual printing of the new map and placing that new map in the truck before hunting. Sounds simple however, some members are keeping their current maps that have since been updated and updating their current maps with hand drawn in new land locations. The chances for accuracy failure in this regard is possible and any resulting trespass we will support prosecution of as our Association reputation is at stake. A second indicator we have picked up on have been the reports of lease land without signs reported as we like members to do. However, in several cases the land reported as without MAHA signs, you probably guessed it, has been dropped from inventory and the member was using an old map in the field as the current map no longer has that land listed. The right action is evident.
Snows. Jason R. sent in some "live" pictures (Snow Geese in this one) in addition to his harvest pictures for a pleasant change for both his picture album and for the website. Thank you Jason for thinking of us. Jason's comments include: Plenty of snows and they were easy to interdict after some scouting and setting up a large spread. Only needed enough calling to get their attention. We have enough Canada's off the wetlands and the Snows were just for a different hunt.
Duck. A well composed picture of a good youth hunter and a nice looking bird dog. That duck, a bonus bird on that hunt, just happened to be the 65th bird for that hunter and probably the last for the season. What a great season when a teenager can get that kind of action. Good luck JJ.
Bobwhite Quail. Simple picture, great story. One day of the hunt. Father and son. Son's second season. One dog. Not a limit day, just one great hunting day. To have this kind of action on quail with such a young hunter is a great memory. Enjoy the hunt. Many understand, some will not.
Duck. Several will recognize Bob as he is one of the few duck hunters that extends the courtesy of sending in some pictures of his hunts. It seems too many duck hunters dunk their cameras and simply no longer carry them. In Bob's case he is a skilled hunter that seeks the day. His partner also had a good day (that is when he hunts with Bob) and refused to be pictured (possibly not all the birds were his or a few hens mixed in) and we would not want to identify Dave so as not to embarrass him. After all he is the one with the lab that didn't come on this hunt. So to Bob we extend our thanks for adding to the waterfowl updates with his comments that include it has been an average season with only a few exceptional days and without the great season days of consecutive hunts over early. And, even for Bob there have been some bad hunt days where his call now well worn from years of experience failed in its appeal.
Upland Bird. From an upland bird hunting member: "As in past years, I have enjoyed meeting and sharing hunting stories and information with other members that I came across in the field this year. And I have come across the occasional hunters who were trespassing either through ignorance or arrogance.
I cringe when I come across a vehicle near Club leases without the membership indicator in the windshield. Confronting a potential trespasser is an unpleasant affair; but as I've done it more, it's become easier. And it's an important part of maintaining the quality of our hunting.
I've also been checking the membership cards (including picture IDs) of all members of hunting parties I encounter on club leases. I want to invite other members to do the same. I promise you that if you check me, I will not be offended. I will consider it a compliment and an indication that you care enough about our shared hunting experience to protect us all from the arrogant or ignorant.
Thanks Charles for the eloquent reminder. From your Association staff's perspective there is not any emotion involved, it is simply business. And, keeping it simply a matter of business makes it easier for all to card all they encounter. In any case of a trespasser it is simply a matter of reporting it using the universal 911 call. Members pay good money and deserve to receive what they pay for. Trespassers will always be with us and law enforcement officers always spread too thin. It will take all to protect what they have invested in to keep it good. In the case of any who encounter trespassers that come on with aggression, fail to show ID as members the 911 call with the offender's vehicle identification is all that is required. In cases when a member cards another hunter and that hunter claims to be a member and has an ID card does not mean he is hunting with a legitimate reservation - trespassing within our regulations. Even when members card another that has a current membership ID take the ID number and call it in to the office along with the property and date encountered so we may check to ensure all are complying with the Association regulations.
One special point about those that claim the landowner gave them permission. That response is to be ignored as the contract specifically states MAHA's exclusive hunting access and that leaves the landowner out of the equation entirely. The correct response is to call 911 and gain a trespass citation.
Safe holidays to all!
Quail. The next time any of us begin to think that it is too far to drive for the better hunting should remember Carl as he comes all the way on a two day trip from Maine twice a season to have the bird hunting he can only dream about in his home state. Carl is also one of those hunters that values his dog work the most and captures on film what he most likes to experience. Thank you Carl for reminding us locals just how good we have it out here in the heartland.
Upland Bird. We spoke of the value upland bird hunters have for a good point picture over that of quail bag limits in the last update and received this picture along with some other fine looking dog on point pictures showing high tail and leg with intense point neck stretch. We gladly accepted them placing them where appropriate within the website. Thank you Kevin, Jon, Gary, Alan and Frank all are fine looking bird dogs anyone would be proud to hunt. I believe the one shown here is Kevin's recent pup.
Pheasant. Richard from Texas was nice enough to send in a feedback report on his pheasant hunting to include a fine picture of a retrieve. Thank you Richard, it is always good to hear about folks traveling a long way and having a good time of it.
Whitetail. Joe G, a first year Association hunter, shows us how quick success can come. Take a look at what we hope to be just the first of his pictures to his web page. Joe also did good by harvesting a doe to do his part at balancing out the population. Something we would like all to do. Thank you Joe for sharing with us what you did this season.
Admin. We are once again experiencing legitimate incoming emails being picked off by our spam filters. Discouragingly, the recent lost emails involve folks using shareware for picture distribution using MSN, Kodak and Wal-mart picture share systems that include links in the basic email text. Most appear to be stopped by our high-speed service provider uplink server side filters and we hear of these only when members inquire if we received their emails as they have not see their update posted to the web. The ones that do make it through and it seems to be only the MSN shareware ones are stopped by the incoming email filters at the ISP. We can shift through these however, there is no guarantee we will recognize a legitimate email amongst all the spam. So we ask those that send an email that we do not immediately reply to, to know that we do immediately reply to emails and if we have not then the filters may have snagged the message you tried to send to us. We want your feedback, both good and bad, as well as any pictures anyone would take the time to send. The over 2,000 images on the websites all come from the generosity of the Association hunter and we certainly do remember each one that does extend that courtesy to all others.
Turkey. MAHA's wetlands manger found his fall turkey harvest pictures from this past season and adds it to the collection. He says this one was for the family this past thanksgiving and just a bonus from the deer stand. Thanks Bruce.
Pheasant. In the just for fun category here is a spur from a rooster that will make for a great pheasant mount. Joe's comments included: "Not only was he a large bird having 5/8 spurs his feathering was a variant rarely seen with far more white, blues and greens than the average rooster.... For those that have raised pheasants for a hobby and retained birds to see just how long they lived.... will recognize the age of this bird by its white and black outlines of its red cheek plates."
Thanks Joe for showing us just one more aspect of how hunting is more than just a bird count.
Whitetail. John. Thanks for the info on the landowner tag. I love being in MAHA. Sorry I am not in these pictures, but I typically hunt by myself. Klint H.
Thank you Klint for showing what a first year Association hunter can achieve. Good luck with the rest of the season. It certainly looks like you have a great first year.
Waterfowl. The snow geese have made a late arrival this year with the first hard freeze holding off until mid December. The recent cold front coming from Canada is credited with the local increase in waterfowl activity and hunter success reports.
Quail. From 20+ year member Jerry C.:
John, I finally advanced to the digital age and broke down and bought a camera. Hunting by myself it's tough to take photos after the hunt, but I think these ones turned out pretty good for a beginner. It's been a hit and miss season. Last Sunday I hunted in 40+ mph wind and never found a covey but Belle pointed two rooster pheasants that flushed out of range for my 20 gauge with 8 shot. Belle is now 11 years old so I only hunt her for a couple of hours and don't hunt consecutive days, so my numbers aren't real good but we're still having a great time. We found 4 coveys the day we hunted in the photo and ended up with a limit but left plenty of seed for next year. I'm shopping for a pup for next season and look forward to the task of breaking another dog.
Waterfowl. I am not a waterfowl hunter but can tell you there was not any shortage of ducks and geese. Even with my dog running about and wearing an orange hat the geese flew by close enough to see their colors. This picture is after several flights went by along the same path and does not do justice for the numbers that I saw exceeding what anyone could count.
Duck. The ducks were on several ponds and I saw these from a distance that let us close enough for a picture. I don't know what kind they are and there were a lot more than what is seen here.
Quail. I wanted to send you a photo of the best hunt so far this season. We found 5 coveys and three of the 5 were very large. Kevin C.
Admin. Guest Passes. We've had several calls recently requesting more guests than the rules allow for bird hunting. Please do not ask the office to bend the rules. If you have a couple of friends that want to hunt Association property have them join the Association. Every year at the tail end of the season bird hunting spots become very high demand and it is not our obligation to share our land with non-members. Also, a reminder, upland bird guests are not allowed once Missouri closes on January 15.
On the subject of guest passes all are to be made well aware this has been a long standing problem for your Association management. And, before anyone starts emailing or calling in support for or arguments for or against the guest pass policy read the subordinate issues below.
The entire guest pass regulation is a legacy from the time earlier to now when land prices were far less. With the recent years advent of the "deer lease" being a fad or hallmark of a deer hunter there have been many individuals and small groups that collect to lease small acreage for high dollar. We have all read the many magazine articles promote this and deer hunters seem to find it necessary to have a single property to themselves the entire season. The fallacy is that unless a very large contiguous lease is contracted the likelihood any single farm will be productive is far less likely than having several available through the entire season. Overall this effect has driven our land lease costs higher than they have ever been before and the last three years at an inflationary rate higher than the general economy and our prior experience.
For the duck hunter the Association wetlands are by far the most expensive in terms of cost, labor and management outlay of all leases. The cost of dirt work, annual flooding, brush cutting, rippy grass, etc., all combine into some very expensive real-estate. A similar cost extends to the upland hunter due to the acreage per day required for a good bird hunt. Anyone that disputes the cost of hunting in this Association should access any of the upland, waterfowl, deer and turkey websites to see costs typically starting at $150/day and more likely a lot more than that.
Guests have always complicated the landowner card checks and with a simple system of no guests landowners are more likely to card everyone in all hunting groups encountered. The value of this was made clear to us this season with members dis-enrolled for illegal guests. The circumstances around this include the carding of all persons in a hunting group rather than just the one that interdicts the landowner's approach. The rules are immutable, however every season a member or more seeks to re-write them to fit their needs over that of the Association majority. Having a no-guest policy will make rule enforcement easier.
One supporting fact of this topic that cannot be argued is the cost of our insurance coverage and the release of liability contract the Association member has with the Association. Guests are not part of the safety net these two requirement provide and they also run the risk of increasing overhead in both categories. The membership has a great organization and hunting opportunity in the Association and part of the fiduciary responsibility we have assumed is not to over inflate the cost of that opportunity. Guests places this in jeopardy.
Not a justifiable source of new members as is so much argued by those that most favor retention of the guest passes. If that guest is not willing to accept the word and character of the member recommending the Association to the guest to join then perhaps that guest is not worth our allocation of a membership. In most cases, if not all to date, the guest that is planning on applying for Association membership on the recommendation of his friend/member as a sponsored applicant is hunting as a guest just to get a free hunt. Similarly those guests that hunt without intention or applying for membership simply seek a free hunt at general Association member expense. In either case we have not seen direct evidence to support that guest hunts result in increased membership and further we have not been in search of large numbers of new members for a good long while.
Long ago guests were allowed for all hunting. In the last 10 year the guests were refused for deer and turkey hunting due to increasing lease costs. Later the guest passes for upland and waterfowl were reduced from 6 to 4 per year. Again this was due to increasing land costs. The issue between deer and turkey hunters and that of upland and waterfowl hunters has introduced a lack of parity between these distinct hunting interests. This is in contravention to one hallmark of the Association that has always been parity between all members and largely advertised as all receive the same map issue, reservation system for equitable land access. This concept of parity should be all inclusive of all members if we are to claim ourselves to be an organization that offers parity to all. Parity as a concept is absolute as an all or nothing ideal. Either we are an organization of parity to the membership or we are not and if not then we need to advertise it as such.
A recurring theme from those we solicit why they renew or not re-new their annual membership has been quality hunting. Quality hunting has been defined by many of these we talked to as fewer hunters, more land and increased habitat production. Guest obviously fail to support this idea and therefore detract from the reason why hunters remain with this Association for years.
Our lengthy discussion is simply to prevent dispute and give explanation for the motivation to discuss the guest policy.
Whitetail. Three seasons hunting in his Association and 4 racked bucks, is there anything else to say? Congratulations Cobenn on as good as a hunting string as there is possible to achieve. Thank you for showing what can be done on a limited time schedule as you have had.
Whitetail. Jerad harvests a fine trophy that made him work to recover it. Jerad wrote: "...this beast had a 19" inside spread, 11+" G2's and 10+" G3's. The right main beam and G4 were damaged while still in velvet and will cause nearly 8" of deductions. Gross green score was 167 5/8 by my measurements (for whatever that's worth). After a total of 11" of deductions, he nets 156 5/8 green..." The rest of his letter should be a must read for everyone as it describes some of the many challenges faced by your association when managing lease land.
Thank you Jerad for your tenacity and willingness to share your experience. We want all the feedback.
Waterfowl. Waterfowl hunters continue to report that while not a banner year there is certainly enough activity to get out and enjoy the hunt. The results of a farm pond hunt split between the crop field and pond. Passing on the snows and selecting the Canadas made for a mid morning hunt with good early activity and left the rest of the morning for Blackie to work on field condition blind retrieves not wanting to quit after the geese were bagged.
Deer. MAHA owner Jon Nee with this season's harvest and comment: "It's not over until it's over. 3PM the last day".
Deer. MAHA's own wetlands manager/worker/blind builder/water pumper and hard core duck hunter took some time out for an early fall archery hunt and harvested a heavy boned rack.
Whitetail. Rex has two state, two trophy whitetail deer season. What more can be said, it is real hard to do better.
Thank you Rex for this year's and for showing us all a track record of what is possible.
Youth Deer Hunter. Kevin and son, Ian, make a youth hunt all worth while and share with all of us a picture and hunting account any parent would be happy to experience. To see what else this hunting combination had done during the earlier spring turkey season with granddad take a look at their turkey hunting results as well. Thanks Kevin, you are having a great impact on many of us that sometimes forget the value a little travel time can make. Congratulations Ian you seem to be on your way to a great life.
Whitetail. Kevin harvests another by bow. Thank you Kevin for showing us what you have been able to get done by yourself and with your son.
Traveling Deer Hunters. See what a father and son team, Greg and Jacob, from down south was able to accomplish. They have sent in their pictures and promise a letter soon to follow. If his deer letter is anything like his turkey hunting letters it will be a factual accounting of an actual hunt without any extraneous detail. Exactly the type of hunting account all real hunters prefer over that of illustrated magazine articles.
Mid-Season Update As of Monday, December 13 the Missouri and Kansas antlered firearms deer seasons will be over. Iowa still has a couple of late seasons, but we only have a handful of members with tags. Thank you to all that have sent in pictures and hunting accounts and good luck to those with some tags left to fill, we hope for you the best.
Archery season in Kansas runs through December 31, Iowa January 10 and Missouri January 15. With 30 yards being what it is the bow hunter continues to experience good hunting through out the season when that hunting is defined as the right habitat in the right region of the state and without competition. We have had plenty of near hit stories and agonize with the hunter as we have had our share of time in the deer woods as well as fully knowing what 30 yards really means. Good luck to the dedicated late season bow hunter. And as always all that want to doe hunt the deer herd thinning antlerless seasons offer the time to fill freezers with venison. We encourage all to go on a doe hunt as the tags in Missouri and Kansas are liberal and over the counter.
We greatly appreciate the cooperation from the upland bird hunters working with us making reservations around the deer hunters. Most of the bird hunters agree that those that are willing to remain still in a deer stand all day long to be a special breed of hunter that most bird dog loving hunters could never match. The action behind a bird dog this season is far too great to pass up and would make any minute sitting still pure agony. If only 1% of the bird hunters send in the pictures promised this update will be filled with dog and bird photos and accounts soon enough.
Deer season was great for those that had success and not so good for others that did not fill a tag. The majority of our deer hunters were looking for a big buck, but big buck success across the board is hard to come by. It takes a lot of time, hard work, patience and some times luck. We did get a good bit of feedback from those in the "unsuccessful and satisfied" category stating that for the most part the hunts were good and the trip worthwhile with many an eye on a quality buck that could not he successfully placed in the truck. We also congratulate those that have harvested their deer of choice and hope they will continue to have such fun. And, for all there is always next year to look forward to and many will start with late winter scouting this February and March.
Many deer hunters questioned the timing of the rut this year. It's anyone's guess when it started and ended, but it appeared it started a little early and fizzled during the early part of the Missouri firearms season, which made hunting tough after opening weekend. In general the overall buck on doe activity reported to us was less than previous years with many bucks being harvested as solitary animals clear of any doe. The later Kansas and Iowa firearms seasons proved what the Missouri rifle hunter said as many reported fewer eyes on the frenzied doe chasing racked buck.
A small percentage of the members had trespassing issues with the firearms deer seasons leading all hunting categories as is typical each year, but none of great concern. Every name and license plate given to the Association has been turned over to the proper authorities and each case will be followed up on. We did have a good number of citations written this year and the cost in Kansas ran an even $110 per trespasser as the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Department officers where all quick to respond and very willing to support the fight against the road hunter and other unethical persons. One issued raised this year concerned "hired hands" that claimed the landowner and lease contract holder has permission to assign away the contract's hunting access to the farm employees. That is not the case and all need to understand that not all lease money is paid before the season. We have landowner performance requirements with compliance required to earn the final year's payment. With that knowledge there seems little logic that a landowner would risk losing thousand's of dollars in contract payments so that a farm employee might shoot a deer.
The overall reports from the upland bird hunters this season have been encouraging. The population, especially pheasant appears to be on the increase, especially in Kansas. While not back to the levels of the early 90's they are well poised with one more dry spring during the critical hatch and brood months of May and June to get to that long hoped for level soon enough. While we knew this, as did just about every bird hunting magazine did, just after last spring's dry weather in Kansas, north Missouri and Iowa did not fair as well. And while these areas did not have the hatch survival rate experienced in Kansas they did produce more birds than anticipated with many of the dedicated bird hunters in the Association being the first to decry the earlier reports of bird numbers being down with the comments they may be down, but far from out.
With most of the non-resident upland hunters having now had their annual bird hunt traditionally during the first 30 to the typical latest as the first 45 days of the season the remainder of the season will see less pressure and much better cold weather hunting. And, bird hunter pressure is now a numbers concern for us as last summer's magazine articles about Kansas bird numbers being up brought us an increase in bird hunter primary interest applicants that combined with this fall's success by those hunters will be bringing in their friends and family members. This will mean that once again we will be facing an increase in membership application refusals as we will rather seek to keep the members we have through good hunting rather than surge with an overabundance of folks that will simply work the land too hard. The bottom line is that if you want to sponsor your friends into the Association it is best done early rather than later.
For the late season upland hunter he will find the majority of the crops in Kansas have been harvested, but Iowa and north Missouri still have some crops standing in the fields. Hopefully, if it remains dry the next couple of weeks the remaining crops will be harvested to open the doors for some good late season pheasant and quail hunting.
The waterfowl season was off to a good start, but has been spotty since. Our primary waterfowl properties have good habitat and excellent water, but it appears the bulk of the birds still remain in the northern states. The reports from the Squaw Creek and Bob Brown private duck and goose clubs has been very slow. While this typically is our best period in the year from Thanksgiving to the end of December we simply have not seen the waterfowl we usually have. Again, don't give up because one good freeze can turn everything around and all should remember the southern of the two zones with MAHA wetlands stays open into January. That may mean a bit longer drive for some, but when the peak migration comes our southern wetlands may see the best duck hunting this year.
Whitetail. See what two brothers from Florida were able to get done. Congratulations guys, two on the same hunt is exceptional. Thank you for taking the time to send in your pictures.
Pheasant. Gary from Pennsylvania with two pheasants he harvested during a break from deer hunting. His comments also included he agreed with the earlier update about the birds being easy to find. A deer hunter without any dog is able to get plenty of pheasant shooting. He also told of his tougher than last year deer hunt where he has not seen his buck of choice, but plenty of smaller ones. Thanks Gary for the picture and good luck with the rest of the year.
Waterfowl. Comments that came along with this picture include it was a quick morning hunt intended to be drakes only. The one hen came from the last drake shot, just the way it goes sometimes. The Canada's were not called in or any geese decoys used they just come in between the ducks. The mallard activity is picking up. Thank you Bob for the waterfowl picture and feedback.
Bob happens to be one of those waterfowl hunters that always seems to have a good hunt.
Duck. Duck hunters being the least likely, similar to quail hunters, to take pictures frequently only do so for a favorite dog or when junior starts hunting. And, it is near impossible to get a duck hunter to write a letter. In this case the older brother with guardianship of his little brother that is experiencing his first season on the wetlands. Thanks JJ for the picture. It appears you had a great day taking care of your little brother, he is luckier than he knows just yet.
Season. For our non-resident hunters a weather update. The northern regions of Kansas and elsewhere received an easy to walk through snowfall just in time for the Kansas rifle deer season. While the advantage of this cold weather is obvious to the deer, duck and upland hunter the rest of the story is the warm up forecasted later in the week. This cycle of precipitation and above freezing conditions has already repeated several times since the seasons opened up and have kept the rural roads in mud making travel sometimes a slow or impossible task. With the first week in December historically being the transition from the more warm or above freezing weather to the more typical colder winter periods the roads will become far easier to travel to give the late season hunter access to many places denied to many so far this year.
Dogs. With the increased upland bird hunting activity the number of dog and skunk encounters have also increased. Two easily (dog supply catalog) purchased remedies to any odor problem are Skunk Begone and Skunk Off. Both are spray on odor suppressants capable of bringing the smell under reasonable control. Another issue for some of the versatile breeds and other dogs have been encounters with armadillos. Armadillos have survived a long time through evolution and have a great tolerance for several diseases transferable to both man and dog. They are best left alone.
Fishing. Matt K and family sent into us by email last May a great picture layout of a family fishing weekend. That email was lost in the web hosting debacle we had back in May and we just now found the fishing story buried in a folder of junk mail. This is part 4 of a current 4 part installment covering the last several years of watching his children enjoy nature. A great aspect of this fishing trip was not just the fish, but also the other activities to be enjoyed and how being out with dad is a great time. Congratulations Matt I am sure there will be a few that will envy what you have done. Thank you for sharing and sorry for the delay at publishing to the web.
Whitetail. After a day and a half sit forover 18 hours 11 year old TJ bagged his third buck. Patience paid off once again.
Whitetail. See what Eric L. has done this year, again for the last several years running. His latest trophy whitetail is at the bottom of a page that shows a string of success few are able to achieve. Thank you Eric for showing us what is possible.