For those that have not been able to talk to us as quickly by telephone as you may like recently it is due to our being on the land seeking contract renewals, scouting potential new leases to replace those that we plan to drop and scouting habitat - the purpose of this update. We have a series of pictures from this week's efforts where the value they possess will be obvious to those with time under their belt in this particular region and the text is written with the duality in mind that we have a fair number of new members that have never been in this part of our land lease region where the pictures were taken.
Deer hunters can be a spooky lot and none the more exemplifies this than this contribution by one that watches the moon phase to an extreme and is agonizing that: "Mars is coming too soon!" We give it to you for your consideration exactly as we received it and claim none of it. If true, it will be interesting to see even if its too early for deer season.
Mars , The Red Planet is about to be spectacular! This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the Last 5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years before it happens again.
The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August it will rise in the east at 10p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m.
By the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30a.m. That's pretty convenient to see something that no human being has seen in recorded history. So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month.
Share this with your children and grandchildren. NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN.
New Member Questions
The summer new memberships have increased to the point administrative questions are occurring so here is a listing of what we have answered lately previously on an individual basis anticipating others may have the same concerns.
No additional guest passes beyond the combined total of 4 for upland and waterfowl and only from the Monday after Thanksgiving to the 15th of January.
Hunting pressure by property number or unit is not tracked. The only accounting we take the time to track is that posted by state and hunting discipline and posted on the website. Our reservation system is on paper and a week at a time. When one week's page is consumed it is thrown away rather than build up a stack of reservation sheets. The reservation week sheet is one each for each hunting discipline per state, that makes 4 sheets per state per week.
Any excess Kansas transfer tags will be posted to this update page making them available to all at the same time.
Scouting requires a reservation. During off seasons scouting reservations are tot he unit of property. During seasons any scouting reservation is to the individual numbered property.
Reservations are by telephone and from 9 to 530 Monday through Friday. Reservations may be made up to 30 days before the hunt.
Camping requires an additional reservation and confirmation that property permits camping.
Remember to check online maps for updates to land additions and deletions.
Scouting and Wives
Any husband would be lucky to have a wife that would accompany them on a scouting trip and our update from last week about bird watching generate more feedback.
Joanie, the bird watcher, collects by picture, birds and with a specialty for their nests within an album. It seems that bird watchers are a competitive group as while sharing with others their latest accomplishments the goal is to see how many of any particular family of birds pictures can be collected, further separated by regions. Gaining additional pictures of nests, eggs and chicks are considered a bonus. In Joanie's case the flycatcher was an especially good "catch" as it is a bird outside of her region just as the nests with eggs. Some commented on the blue egg nest were eggs of a robin. Joanie comments were the mother bird was seen, but was not seen well enough or pictured to identify, but she ruled out robins, a common bird to her home region.
Additional feedback comes from another wife accompanying her husband on a summer field walk. In the case of Gary and Jane it is not birds, but wildflowers that Jane grows as a hobby and parttime causal income supplying wildflower plants to a local nursery. She photographed two flowers not found in her wildflower books that are also regional in nature and she requests anyone out there that knows the name of the flowers to please supply that information.
While non game birds and flowers are well outside of our normal course of business we are happy to support our members supporting their wives. Good luck to all.
Fly Fishing and Bird Hunting
Father and son show a fall and summer doing what they like best with whom they like best doing it with.
Holt flooded crop will be corn this fall. All of the acreage surrounding the duck marsh is in corn so we should have both a good duck and goose season. That is 1,700 acres of corn both wet and dry. That will balance the north with the Cass waterfowl lakes (6) with the surrounding 1,800 acres of crop in the south.
Always looking for better and better land this is a picture of one such lease. An isolated farm well off anything but country roads that we are considering amongst some others still yet to look at. This just happens to be in a good trophy whitetail area.
A potential new lease in a popular quail hunting region. Newly planted CRP in the wildlife plan and fallow pasture as the landowner/farmer enters semi-retirement leasing out the crop ground to a neighbor and the hunting rights to us.
Here are some scouting pics I dug up that might fit in your "Scouting - Rubs" section of the website. They are two views of a shredder rub taken two years in a row. I'm not 100% positive, but I think I got the buck that made these rubs last year. Anyhow, I thought you might like to see the pics.
Now that all know the status of their Kansas and Iowa deer tags all are reminded that scouting requires a reservation.
Here are some pictures of our spring hunt. Had a great time. Weather and camaraderie were great! Can't wait until next year. Thanks to the entire MAHA staff for the great job that you do. CC and MC.
Thanks guys, it is always great to see success.
It is always interesting what interests the non hunting wives accompany their husbands on scouting trips. Typically, we hear of the nice B&B or the country crafts and antique stores. This time the feedback was a bit different. From this past week we have some picture contributions from one such trip by Bob and Joanie W. having traveled a couple hundred miles to do so.
Scissor Tail Fly CatcherKill Deer nestMeadow Lark nest
A yet to be identified bush nesting bird
The ground nesting birds in July is always good to see if we assume a similar success for our quail and pheasant. Thanks Bob and Joanie, the photographer and ardent bird watcher, your pictures had a good impact. Bob did mention he also found a few stand trees as well.
For the rest of us this is what summer brings.
I thought this might interest bird hunters, attached is a picture of my 1 year old female pointing a fly on our deck. She held that fly for about 2 or 3 minutes before I took the picture. The other dog in the picture is our house dog; I don't think he was backing the bird dog.
Thanks Mike, we always believed God knows best as proven by his making dogs.
For most weeks we get a fair number of emails from members providing feedback on a wide range of topics. Every once in a while a specific topic will generate more than the average amount of membership contributions and none more so than the last administrative update concerning online reservations. Every email received voted for or encouraged our continuation of telephone voice reservations. The central theme was all the incidental conversation in addition to the reservation itself concerning the land and what the hunt was the hunter was interested in. This is great during off peak periods and we ask for understanding during peak telephone periods that during which we may not have the time to spend in detail with each member on each phone call. Good luck to all this summer.
Youth First Spring Turkey
Joe and Justin had a great spring hunt. Have read and look at the pictures of a happy father and son. Thanks Joe for showing us hunting partners for life in the making and congratulations to Justin!
We had an inquiry as to our on-line hunting reservation system as to when it would be active. The answer is as we announced some time ago in that we declined the several software programs we evaluated for two basic reasons. The first is that as a small organization that seeks to keep a cap on overhead we did not want to expand our secretarial needs in terms of additional workload, software learning and conducting the routine database maintenance that such programs require. The second reason is to keep the reservation system a personal process between the Association staff and its members. There were other considerations, however those were the two key points.
Lease land contracting continues. A photo of a 160 acre farm that has been with the club for over 15 years. It was leased primarily for deer and turkey since it was all crp and brush with grass undesirable for upland birds. While on a recent scouting trip we decided to drive by and view the farm since we haven't physically viewed it for a year. Since this farm is in a region without pheasants, we were encouraged to see the crp contract expired and the grass was replaced with row crop. Little bits of information like this are beneficial to pass on to the members when the season arrives.
Another inquiry concerned our guest pass policy and that policy will remain as it has been for the last several years.
It has been requested by some if we had memberships available. The answer is a general yes as there is always a turnover of members to an extent separated by primary and secondary hunting interest.
Upland Bird Forecast Continued
Each year when we publish our upland bird forecast it generates discussion. Again this year we collect those topics outside of the Forecast Methodology and share them with our members.
Most bird hunters agree with the correlation between ground nesting birds and spring nesting and brood month rainfall. For those that may have lingering doubts that correlation can be verified by anyone that will compare historical rainfall data available from accuweather.com (premium service) and state conservation agency bird surveys. For those with years of bird hunting experience within our region they will simply compare those rain numbers to birds in the bag to draw their own conclusions.
The same data sets can be used to compare other environmental influences such as the often cited summer droughts. While summer drought (when it occurs) does affect protective cover quality it has little affect on bird survival otherwise.
Geographic or regional comparison models are not interchangeable. An example are those in the region from central Texas to Arizona where a minimum floor of rain is required to allow for good bug production there go brood survival food source. Their perspective is not if they received too much rain it is along the lines if they receive too little rain they do not have the bug production to allow for good brood success rates. In the central mid-west, or our three state region of Kansas, Iowa and Missouri, we do not know what a bad bug year is. We always have bugs or more than average bugs with any year showing plenty for brood survival. An agricultural correlation may be drawn from our region where water intensive crops of beans and corn are grown without irrigation in Iowa, Missouri and east Kansas, and it is not until central Kansas and west does irrigation become more prevalent. This correlation continues in these regions as dry land crops of wheat and milo grow without irrigation. Compared that to the central Texas to Arizona region where even deep rooted alfalfa is more often irrigated than not. In our case it is a concern over too much rain rather than too little. We have not detected any correlation between low rainfall amounts and ground nesting bird chick to juvenile status survival and do not know how little is too little rainfall within our region.
The analysis of why the 10 inch mark is the cut line between above and below average chick survival rates and subsequent fall hunting quality has been drawn from experience of comparing birds in the bag of that fall to the previous spring. It was the early 1960's Arizona Game Bird Study that initially turn us onto this correlation and subsequent other studies the most recent was a few years ago published by the NWTF that drew conclusions about nesting and brood month rainfall amounts and chick survival to juvenile or quill feather status (the point chicks have a high survival rate in terms of weather conditions).
These studies also provided proofs to other topics to include in the Arizona Study the vertical distribution of ground nesting birds based on humidity and temperatures at elevations allowing or inhibiting in-the-egg chick development. This explained for the first time the environmental limiting factors of why some regions have various partridges and other Bobwhite Quail. Or, as an example in our region why we have different localities for Rios versus eastern turkeys. These studies also drilled down deeper into the rain statistics distinguishing between amounts of rainfall per event, the number and frequency of rainfall events, total rainfall, temperature at the time of rainfall, day versus night rainfall effects. While all these subcategories causes had an enhancing or degrading effect on nest and brood survival it was far more data to assimilated than we had time. In short the studies found that rainfall less than a 1/4 inch per event had less adverse effect than that above 1/4 inch. Rains on warm to hot days less adverse effect than cold days. Night rains less adverse effect than day. A rain that combined two or more of these categories had increased adverse or enhancing effect.
What distinguishes our upland bird forecast from all others available through state conservation agencies or magazines is that we are accountable to our members in terms of getting them the hunting they desire and our motivation for being right in our forecast is our credibility with those members and their likelihood to renew their memberships. To be crass it comes down to money. To be accurate it is to have a good hunting organization.
What gives us confidence in our forecast is not just the research it is that we also train and hunt our own bird dogs within the region we provide the forecast. These two facets (membership accountability and our on the ground throughout the year experience) no other forecast source can claim. These pictures are from the mid 1990's the last time we had such a great string of dry springs and what we are looking forward to this fall.
Upland Bird Forecast
The final element that we have been waiting for has been the combine May and June rainfall correlation to ground nesting birds and we show a strength with our multi region lease land distribution. The entire western half of Kansas has now had its fourth consecutive dry spring with above average chick hatch and brood survival rates as indicated by the less than 10 inches combine two month rainfall. We will be experiencing the level of bird numbers that are reminiscent of the early 90's for both pheasant and quail.
Other good news includes southern Iowa and north and southwest Missouri.
Southern Iowa two seasons ago demonstrated how quickly the bird numbers could rebound with just one dry spring with that region boasting the best bird numbers in memory. Then the next year (last season) the spring rains turned against us with what was described locally as a "northern weather flow" caused by a unseasonably high jet stream and bird numbers dropped sharply due to high spring rains. This year we bounce back with good spring rain numbers combining with a fair carry over population making for some very good hunting to be had this fall.
Upland Birds and Rain
East Kansas seems to have been targeted by nature this spring to be rained on and rained on often.
For the most part Iowa and Missouri were uneventful with spring rains. Kansas made all the news this spring with some of the best and the worst conditions.
What was typical this year was a fast moving thin band of rain. One of the few times in the year when we appreciate the windy conditions of the central mid-west.
North Missouri will share with Iowa the same increased bird numbers with the difference between these two regions being that Iowa will have a good mix of pheasant and quail while the farther south traveled from the Iowa state line into Missouri the pheasants will drop off and quail numbers increase. This is not related to spring rains but rather to other environmental limiting factors that define the population zone for the pheasant.
The heartbreak lies with southeast Kansas where recent years has seen a resurgence of this region's quail populations. With the unfavorable rains this region is anticipated to be no better in terms of bird numbers than last season. The high power quail dog hunters that favor this region will continue to find their steadfast coveys with variations to both sides of the bird cycle.
Northeast Kansas suffered a similar conditions as did southeast Kansas. These areas will less likely to have increased number of birds as farther west, east or northeast into Iowa and mostly will affect the local Kansas City hunter that seeks a quick drive. These hunters would be better off traveling a bit more for the better hunting.
Overall, rainfall amounts by day were light with occasional heavy rains. While the eastern 1/4 of Kansas was unlucky and suffered sustained rainfall per rain event the remainder of Kansas, Iowa and Missouri benefited from the more typical rain band influenced by the classic cold northern front heading south meeting the warmer, moisture laden gulf air. These rain bands produced heavy and light showers of limited duration and adverse impact.
The bottom line is that for those lucky enough to be starting a first season pup this will be a good year for a lot of wild bird exposure.
For those that find it necessary to rank order traditional upland bird hunting states and in this case limited to pheasants, Huron, South Dakota, often claimed to be one of the best pheasant hunting localities in the world had a combined May and June 2005 rainfall of 8.4 inches. Combine that with their colder and heavier snowfall winters to that of Kansas and their shorter hunting season to gain an appreciation of where to spend the most field time.
All good news always has a consequence. Those that experienced last season's very good upland bird hunting are likely to return this year for the same or better experience. These hunters have been recommending us to their friends with new upland bird primary membership applications on an increase since even before last season was finished last January. The anticipated bird dog and hunting magazine articles that are traditional fodder for the summer time issues will no doubt tout the increased bird counts resulting from our good hatch and brood survival. All this will combine in more hunters traveling to our part of the country as has been the historical example for the last 30 years of up and down bird cycles. This will result in more trespassing both accidental and intentional. To that end every Association hunter should anticipate being carded whenever on Association lease land and all Association members should consider it automatic to card each and every person encountered on Association lease land. Trespassers will come and it will take all of us to protect that which we paid for.
An interesting observation for the western half of Kansas has been the ever growing Rio Grande Turkey (ground nesting birds and spring rainfall correlation) populations. It was common place to observe this past year Rio flocks numbering into the 100's. This was beyond expectation even as late as 10 years ago. The general observations have been that the current flocks continue to grow in size at a faster rate than new flocks developed in new areas. The topic of discussion has been how large will a Rio flock become? No clear answer on this one.
If this forecast appears confident it is due to our years of first hand, boots on the ground, year round observations within a concentrated geographic area.
MAHA Yellow Pages
Several pages of the MAHA Yellow Pages have been updated with the most changes involving the various country B&B's.