June 2004 Updates

30 Jun

We have always encouraged pre season scouting as it has the greatest payoff for enhancing any hunter's potential success. The more enjoyable the hunting experience the more likely members are to re-new their membership and that is what we are after.

Waterfowl. A photo showing one of our waterfowl marshes that has 6 separate pools of water. The one in the photo will remain as is until the waterfowl season. Two others have been drained and will be planted to milo. After the milo matures we will drain water from two of the holding lakes into the fields of milo for ducks to feed on during and after the fall season. Hard feed is a major component to quality waterfowl hunting on a competitive flyway. The Association does its best during the off season to prepare for the upcoming seasons.

Fishing. During the off season we rotate projects to include all species provided by the Association to the members. Last month we did some research with the Missouri Department of Conservation for a means to enhance the habitat on our waters to improve the quality of our fish. Their feedback was shallow edge cover was the easiest to develop with little labor involved.

We're using one pond as a test site and chose water willow (justicia americana) as the edge cover to begin our experiment. We transplanted one five gallon bucket of water willow from a duck marsh to a 3 acre pond. If the water willow spreads as anticipated we will transplant more every summer to other lakes, ponds and strip pits to help provide cover and food for fish. This will be a project volunteer members will be able to help with in the future.

27 Jun

Turkey. It is always great when we receive feedback from a hunter who has a primary concern about the quality of the hunt, the day in the field and the general experience with his hunting Association. Brad sent in just a letter and picture showing what those who simply want to try can achieve what they have never done before. Congratulations Brad on your success and thank you for sharing it with all of us. We suspect we will be seeing a lot more of your hunts in the near future.

Seasons. the wheat harvest has begun as early as it ever has in Kansas with a great percentage of it already in storage bins. The historical earliest harvest has been as this year during the third week in June with the historical late average in the first week in July, that is for northern Kansas. Southern Kansas is always earlier. What this demonstrates was just how warm the spring was that allowed for the rapid growth of the wheat. warm springs are also what we look for as an indicator of ground nesting bird hatch/brood success.

The second seasonal waypoint we observed while out and about are the hen turkeys are grouping up with their offspring. It is typical to see two or more hens with more young in tow than can be accurately counted.

Goose hunters also look to be in good shape for this fall considering the number of warm winter layover geese that have increasingly populated remote farm ponds and surrounding crop fields over the last three years. We are finding mated pairs with nearly flight ready and in some cases limited flight capable goslings on small farm ponds that we have never found nesting geese on before.

Considering ducks, is one lease that has a year round spring feed creek with pools that seem too small to hold the number Wood Ducks we find there each year. This creek is just one of those areas with all the right natural elements to produce a strong local population of woodys that has become a hallmark for us to gauge overall local duck nesting success.

25 Jun

Turkey. Brian from Nebraska tells about spring turkey hunting by bow. Thank you Brian for send in the picture and hunting account. You are part of a rare and special skill level of hunter.

Lease. Land contracting continues and once all the maps are updated they will be made available to all members at one time. No need to call or email any attempt to receive advanced map issue of any new ground, such requests are ignored in the interest of parity. We are also working toward placing the entire inventory of land maps for online member access and should have that complete ahead of this fall season.

This picture is from a land run earlier in the spring just before turkey season. We leased it for two reasons mainly, the heavily wooded creek bottom with its soft edge and the crop ground around it. For deer and quail primarily, the turkey were on the far side split between our lease and the neighbor's ground.

2004 Spring Turkey summary. Once again, another spring turkey season is behind us and many hunters enjoyed success with or without tagging a bird or pulling the trigger.

The turkey population has really come a long way over the past 20 years. For the record, in 1983 out of 25+ hunters, only one spring turkey was harvested on Association property. Over the past three years combined we have harvested close to a total of 1,300 toms. That's impressive progress.

Over the past 10 years, the membership has shifted from 90% residents of Missouri and Kansas, to close to 50% non-resident hunters from all over the USA. The majority of non-residents come in for 3 to five day hunts while many of the residents are able to pick and choose days to hunt throughout the entire season.

The success ratio seems to be a little slimmer for many of the first year members as they are not as familiar with the different regions of land to choose from, but as the year’s pass their success rate seems to improve rapidly.

Many hunters only hunt a day or two attempting to fill one tag, while others buy 4 to 5 tags and do everything possible to fill all of them. This year, only one member attempted to fill 5 tags and he was able to fill 3 of them, and 11 members were fortunate enough to fill 4 out of 4 tags.

The largest bird reported was 26 ½ pounds. The longest beard was 12 inches. Many multiple beards were taken with the most having 4 beards. Two 1 5/8" spurs were measured at the office and one was from a proud youth hunter.

The quickest a member filled 4 tags was 4 days. The most days spent to harvest one tom was 19 days. The most time spent not harvesting a bird was 13 days. For the novice or most experienced hunter, spring turkey hunting can be quick and easy one year and long and drawn out the next.

The total number of hunters dropped a little this year to 345, which included about 1/3rd of the same hunters hunting multiple states. The total amount of birds harvested during the 2004 spring turkey season was 407, which averaged 1.18 birds/hunter compared to 1.4 during the 2003 season.

The decline in success ratio was not due to a lack of action or game, but rather a shift in members hunting for quality animals and enjoying the beauty of the hunt over the kill. Jakes don't realize how lucky they are roaming MAHA property. We're proud of the quality of our hunters and hope to continue this trend for many years to come.

23 Jun

Turkey. Jack from Colorado sent in pictures and a short account of his first hunt as a member. He went out the last weekend of the spring turkey season and without scouting brings in a bird. Congratulations Jack and good luck with the rest of the year.

Kevin from Missouri and long time Association hunter from somewhere back in the 80's.

21 Jun

More recovered May updates.

Traveling Hunter. A hunter that started as a waterfowl primary interest, moved onto upland birds with a lab and now his first pointer and hunts spring turkey. Kenneth knows how to make the most of opportunity for he and his family. Another one of our military service members Kenneth is a fighter pilot currently stationed in Arizona. Never too much good can be said of our military hunters. Thanks Kenneth for the great picture and hunting story.

This is Bruce your Association wetlands manager with the two toms he followed up after the single back in April. We lost his email however we remember the quote: "Sometimes it just don't come easy." Bruce was referring to how he had to work for his birds this season.

Admin. In this world of email filters we are finding several members that email us have our replies rejected. Conversely, with our filters occasionally we find a legitimate email buried in the spam as well. In any case we attempt to be responsive to all by email, however we can no longer assume email communication is flawless. Also, if your telephone call is not immediately returned it is due to our land contracting road days, Shaun, the Association fulltime secretary, is present in the office from 9 to 530, M-F and does a great job at tracking our returned calls reminding us of those that are due.

Deer Tags. A concern of a new member that feels he was left out of the MAHA Kansas landowner deer tag program. We pass on to all as a means to keep all informed as much as we can. His position was that we should send out paper newsletters notifying of the program requirements.

Our answer to why we do not send out a paper newsletter to all about all issues: "We do not mail newsletters except as a last resort and for membership wide issues. In terms of the transfer deer tag, 25 or less each year apply through our landowner program and that amounts to too few members to spend the money on postage, paper and time to send out 840+ letters. We will limit its advertising to the, I suspect you know, on the website under the Kansas Deer Hunting section as well as you identified posted on the update page for those that frequent it. It is unfortunate you feel left out and we do not intend for anyone not to have parity with all others in the organization. I know this is not the answer you were looking for, but it is an honest answer."

The Association position is one of fiscal responsibility to limit overhead and apply as much money as possible to land contracts. Routine notification will remain to this update page.

Lease Land. Another concern of a new member was the amount of acreage he would have dedicated to solely to himself while deer hunting the entire season. His position was that all the acreage on a single map sheet was his for use on his demand.

Our answer: "In terms of you believing you would have the entire land access to yourself of any one county, unit of land or any one landowner is surprising to me as we make it very clear on the website and in our telephone interview it is one numbered/lettered property per hunter per day. Also, with only a membership payment of $875/year it is unrealistic to think that hundreds of acres will be available and exclusive to each member every day, a hunt trip or season. One of the strengths of the Association is the ability to move from property to property without any one hunter blocking large acreage from any other member. To have that amount of acreage exclusive to each member would drive membership dues into the thousands of dollars per year for each making membership unattainable to most."

The Association position is as it has always been the rules concerning land access have been with us a long time, tested and refined. They are set to ensure all members may hunt as often as they want to and have ample land each day to do so. We recognize this is the main reason members renew their memberships and that is our goal, that is, provide such a good hunting experience that members do renew.

Deer Units. Another concern involved that due to the Kansas licensing by units that it may not be possible to hunt the same area each season.

Our response: "I fully agree with your desire to return and hunt the same area each year and do so myself. However, you may want to break out of unit [location deleted] as one of the reasons we limit our acreage in that unit is that we are getting better results in other units in Kansas. Right next door in unit [location deleted] and in [location deleted] we are harvesting far more trophy deer than what we believe unit [location deleted] has the potential to produce."

The Association position is that life is not perfect and we as all others must comply with state regulations. Yes, at this point the concerns have degraded into whining.

Upland bird hunters the bird hunting forecasts that have been sent into us are simply being ignored and it continues to be surprising to us that magazines of such creditable reputations continue to publish predictions ahead of the hatch and brood months. To do so is to ignore completely the relationship between ground nesting birds and weather in terms of temperature and rainfall. Any magazine or article writer that attempts to do so should be considered a novice and discounted completely.

Your Association will combine last year's during the hunting season survey, this May and June's combined rainfall in terms of total accumulation, that which was over 1/4 per day, day versus night precipitation, the average May and June temperature and finally by the end of July we will have had enough time for eye's on the ground survey to have a fair assessment of where the better bird hunting will be. July is the month when the chicks have matured tot he point we get to see juvenile coveys fly and see pheasant chicks trailing hens.

To date the spring rains have not been great, at this point we are guessing they will be average overall. In some areas the rain fall accumulation is right at the break point between an up and down year in terms of spring hatch survival. Other regions we cover have been left out of the rain pattern and will need some to produce the better tall prairie grass cover. Concurrently, a traditionally good region has had an above desired rainfall. This current assessment leaves a lot of fringe areas between the different regions where rainfall accumulation variances in our three state area leaves near ideal conditions and those are the areas that will get our attention.

The current bird observations have been largely limited to Bobwhite calls in the morning and evening as well as the rooster pheasants continue to crow from first light and for the next 2 hours or so. For the amount of calling we are hearing, as one more indicator of population density, it appears we had a very good carry over adult population. This of course is a good sign and also incomplete as we can never rely solely on carry over as an indicator of good fall hunting.

18 Jun

Admin. As we continue to rebuild from the website hosting service debacle we are attempting to recapture all the May 2004 lost updates. We think we have more than half of them and will ask those that did send in May updates if those updates do not reappear within the next week or so on this page to please re-send them.

Also, if some updates appear to be repeats it is most likely due to having been part of the May update that was lost and recreated here to the best of our ability as many of them survived for a week or so before being lost.

One update we know for sure we lost even after it was sent to us twice was from Rhett Thompson an active duty Army officer assigned to Ft. Riley Kansas. While on deployment orders for Iraq he took a 4 hour morning hunt to harvest one tom. I cannot possible replicate the very poignant and frankly written account of how important it was for he as a service man to be facing yet another deployment to a war zone separating him from wife and newly born first child to have the opportunity on short notice and without planning to take a morning to get away from it all. Possibly many will read this as insignificant and to those people we turn our back. If we again get the opportunity to share what Rhett has written all will be impressed with how dedicated the service members are to supporting our nation. All the especially more important considering recent events.

Traveling Hunters. Joshua (left) does it for three years running. One hunt trip each spring and turkeys each time.

Rex makes it three toms in three states in one season. Great considering that he and his brother have just three years turkey hunting experience. True hunters always show themselves.

What we all like to see, youth hunters having success with dad! Jarod during his first spring turkey season makes it tagging two. What a way to begin the season!

Deer. A direct quote from American Hunter magazine, July 2004, article titled Big-Rack Attack written by Michael Hanback states: "Many hunters, including me, believe the farmlands and CRP ground...hold as many 180 to 200 inch whitetail deer as anywhere in North America today."

Besides being a BFO (Blind Flash of the Obvious) to us locals and a possible revelation to those not familiar with the central mid-west deer habitat it does contain several other issues beyond that simple statement.

Association bird hunters can readily attest to the large racked bucks they put up out of the tall prairie grass on many hunts. Deer hunters, especially those from out of state, frequently discount the tall prairie grass as any kind of deer habitat. Too often the out of state deer hunter seeks the habitat that approximates his home state deer grounds and becomes frustrated with the land, the Association and its staff for having recommended them to hunt wooded creek bottoms and such that do not meet the hunter's expectations. What the non resident deer hunter frequently fails to realize is the reason he travels to the mid-west is for its big deer and the habitat those big deer occupy and that habitat is the wooded creek bottom and tall prairie grass. It is the hunter that must adapt to the game and the land rather than the hunter seek the land to adapt to preconceived notions based on his definition of the world.

More about the quote cited above reflects the author's experience compared to that of your Association staff that lives 12 months of the year throughout the three state region. The author cites "CRP" ground. Your Association staff further sub-classifies CRP into that which is productive and that ground that is in the right region of the state as genetics are not necessarily state wide. Not all CRP is equal and that which we seek is that in the tall prairie grass and other features we will not describe in an open forum that combine into being more productive than other land planted into the Conservation Reserve Program as well as the buffer strip, riparian, WRP, tree, etc., programs.

A final point about that simple statement initially quoted above in the first paragraph is the gap left by the ..., which further stated: "...south of Des Moines and into northern Missouri..." This further appears to reflect the article author's experience limits. That region he describes has far less CRP than Kansas for example. Just as in Iowa and Missouri the Kansas tall prairie grass holds plenty of deer as well. And once again, it is not simply tall grass that is important. The surrounding habitat of the neighboring farms impacts our decision of what to lease and what not to lease.

For most of us we recognize any magazine article reflects the limitations of one person. Your Association staff will remain focused on our three states and not seek specialized knowledge elsewhere. When we recommend a place to hunt it is not an accident. We seek to have our members renew their membership each year and getting all on game makes most of that happen. Our responsibility continues year round compared to a magazine article writer that once paid for the article has no responsibility.

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