May 2006 Updates

31 May

Traveling Turkey Hunter
This is all three tags filled in as many days. Turkey on my right was called in the morning of the 28th. He has a 11" beard and great spurs.

Thank you Klint for sending in your pictures and captions. Quite a trip. Congratulations on your quick hunts.

26 May

MAHA Yellow Pages
Changes continue through the year with another 6 county listing this week receiving edits mostly amounting to campground additions and motels adding camper hook ups to their parking lots. Several additions came from members finding services not listed but known in the small town. Shaun has certainly carried the lion's share of the workload on this effort.

Great Spring Turkey Season
"Hey ya'll,
Rex checking in with an update on my spring turkey travels...Can't say enough about the fun I had this spring in...the amount and quality of game in this area..."

Well Rex we can just say wow and hope you get a royalty for those decoy sales you'll make. Thank you again for what is and has been over the years some of the very best hunting accounts to be read. Also, I think I have your pictures in the right order?

Rex is one of the many lucky hunters we have in the Association in that he is self-employed and can come out on his schedule picking the period of the breeding cycle he likes the best to hunt. What other self employed members have told us works the other way as well and that is the time they take off to hunt is not paid for like an employee taking paid vacation. From that perspective the self employed hunter that finds our service worthwhile is a special satisfaction for us.

More Than Turkeys
A member reminds us there is more to hunting than wildlife.
Thanks Jason for the nice picture and thought.

24 May

Found this guy in the morning and Easter Eggs later in the day. Set up about 150 yards away from this tom while he was still on the roost. He flew down about 75 yards away and was spittin' & drummin' all the way up to my jake decoy. His cooperation with my set up was appreciated by my wife since I was still able to make it back for church on Easter Sunday.

Thanks Rhett for taking the time from your busy life to send in your hunting account and picture.

For the rest of us that enjoy a stable home and work life, Rhett is an active duty officer with a good bit of overseas' time including much in the combat zone. He is on his way to an even tougher assignment stepping up beyond the call by volunteering to a special operations unit. For anyone in Rhett's position to have the success he has had on deer and turkey with as little daily and yearly free time as he has gives the rest of us very little excuse for doing half as much. Thanks Rhett for setting the example and good luck with your new assignment.

22 May

Spring Turkey
Kyle shares his hunt results from his first spring turkey hunt in his new hunting association.

Thank you Kyle for showing what can be had the first hunt!

Kansas Small Towns

It is always interesting what folks find as interesting and in this case the charm of local small towns at rush hour.

The parking jam is at the post office, local general/grocery store and cafe at noon. What is seen in this picture is the entire Kansas rural town. For the new members having the local lodging listing from the MAHA Yellow Pages in the truck is a good idea for finding a motel. Wives accompany their member husbands on a spring good weather turkey hunt or deer scout frequently tell us the stories of the small antique shops, quilt and handmade baskets to be found. There have been a good number of scouting trips cost more than the hunt.

Membership Feedback
Thank you to all that have sent in emails about their experiences. The number of folks giving us their ideas seems to be up this year compared to last and every bit of it adds up. It we were to have the quote of the month for the most thoughtful idea it would be from Ward that said: "It's huntin', how can there be anything bad about it." Thanks Ward, any wisdom is good to hear.

Deer hunters have for the most part sent in their Kansas and Iowa deer tag applications. As always it is a bit of a gamble as to outcomes. All should make their tag application decisions partially based on where we currently have land leased and not ever presume we will get more land to accommodate a hunter in a particular deer management unit. Land contracting of productive habitat is far harder to come by than most may believe and rarely works as reactive rather than proactive efforts.

Upland bird hunters are pressing for hunt quality or bird population density forecasts and it is too early for any. Once we have a fix on it by early July we will publish to this page where we believe the better hunting to be.

Turkey hunters are wrapping up the season and with the close of the Missouri season marking the period of the least number of hunters in the field the entire spring even with Kansas open to the 31st. This year many hunters called us with their results making the end of spring season assessment a bit easier and will probably preclude our needing to call the membership to find a sampling of tags filled (not locations).

20 May

Just a picture from the past week's land run showing the state of rack development.

Spring Turkey
One we missed in the shuffle from an earlier update of two archery turkey hunting buddies - Sorry for the mix-up Steve we certainly appreciate each and every picture.

Steve writes: Opening day in [location deleted] found my buddy and I sitting in our blinds with our bows hoping the turkeys where going to come thru where we had scouted them. It worked perfect for my hunting buddy as he called in two toms before noon and arrowed both. I had my birds come thru my spot in the morning but as I was setting directly next to the adjacent property the birds came within 5 yds of the blind gobbling their heads' off but wouldn't cross the fence, what a rush. I had to set until 4 pm before I finally got a group into the decoys for a shot. Having scouted many times we knew the birds where in the area so the quality of the ground and the number of birds we'd seen in the area gave me the confidence to set all day and wait the birds out. Thanks again Steve N

Congratulations Steve for one the hard way.

18 May

MAHA Staff Feedback
From those calling in most understand with the dry weather we have had recently we have been on the back roads hard surveying potential leases. Like most things in life we must search through a lot to get what we want and we still get excited when we sign a lease that will produce.

During these periods member generated updates backlog, telephone calls to be returned generally exceed a page and Shaun always has the list waiting for us on the desk when we get to the office. First to get calls right now are those putting together late season turkey hunts, those planning deer hunts wait until landowners are called back and then the rest. For those with friends being sponsored in before the June 1st price increase we have those as last to call and as long as we know about you they will get the pre June prices just in case something is lost in the shuffle.

When we do sign that good lease that requirement precedes all other actions to process and life is great. The membership has been great to talk to on the telephones as all are working toward that next good hunt. The membership updates being sent in from those with great hunting account and pictures are always worth the read right down to the long text only end of season/year reviews members send in for our consumption that don't get published in all cases except in summary form. When we do publish a summary of accounts the highlighted topics may affect hunters in regards of those that achieve more success from a certain combination of factors over others. One end of season review posted immediately below we did ask the author's permission to post due to it telling several success techniques we have found to make the most success over the years.

Good Hunters Always Do Good
Good afternoon folks,
Just wanted to drop you a line on how my turkey hunt went the first week of May. I wanted to hunt in [location deleted] in order to further scout for a future deer hunt. Luckily, I drew a tag for the late season, and consulted with Mr. Nee on some properties in [location deleted] county I had seen while bird hunting last fall. He suggested a different property so I went with his suggestion for the first morning's hunt. Unfortunately, a very heavy downpour was underway at first light so I went to breakfast and didn't actually start hunting until late morning when the rain had let up to a light mist. I was planning to mainly scout for the next morning and figure out how to negotiate the swollen creeks in the dark. However, about an hour into the recon, a bird started gobbling at the top of a ridge. I set up at the bottom right on the creek bank and started trading calls with him. I heard a hen yelping in his vicinity so I started cutting and yelping at her. She came looking for me and brought him along. A 40 yard shot brought the issue to a close. What makes it so special is that this was my first ever turkey harvest. It was a good one too, from what little I understand: 25 lbs., 1 1/8" spurs, 10 1/2" beard. Pictures didn't turn out real well as the rain continued for the next 2 days. The only downside, if you can call it that, was that I only got 1 1/2 hours of hunting in [location deleted] before tagging out!

I had scheduled a week of vacation, so I waited out the monsoon on Sunday, then bought MO tags and ended up on the same [location deleted] county property I had successfully bow hunted last November. After spending Monday scouting, I decided to set up my blind on a corn stubble field that was surrounded by likely looking roost sites. I mainly wanted to use the first morning to pin down the roosts for moving in closer the next day. As it turned out, Tuesday morning was beautiful and the gobbling was plentiful. Traded tree calls with one that I estimated at 500 yards. At fly down, he strutted to within 100 yards, but would come no closer. As luck would have it, a hen came from behind me, through my decoys, and right to him. I figured that would be the end of this little encounter. Wrong again, after they got through with their little dance, she came right back by me; not sure whether it was me calling or she just had an appointment going that way. He couldn't stand to watch her leave, evidently, and came to 35 yards. I about screwed it up because he was in my blind spot (corner of the blind) and my trying to get a shot spooked him. He didn't leave in time, however. Another nice one, 21lbs, 1" spurs, 10" beard. One heck of a hunt. Absolutely gorgeous morning and an encounter that lasted nearly 2 hours before it's successful conclusion.

My last two days, the birds kicked my tail. The weather turned rainy and windy again and everyone shut up. You will not hear me complain though. Turkeys are just starting to reach huntable numbers in my section of Northern IN, so my opportunities at hunting them had been nonexistant prior to joining MAHA a year ago. Now I'm able to score twice in 4 days in two different states. More important than the harvests was the fact that my time was totally spent hunting in great habitat without competition or having to knock on doors. What a deal! This comes on the heels of last year's successful archery hunt and my first experience with wild pheasants. I couldn't be happier to be a member.

Thanks and keep up the good work!

Thank you Rod for another viewpoint that reminds us just how good we have it out here and the need to travel to get done in a short trip what most folks cannot do an entire season in their home state.

17 May

Turkey hunting: the good...the bad...and the ugly

The good... opening day after roosting birds the night before found me set up within about 120 yards of a lone gobbler. I waited until the birds started gobbling on their own before tree yelping and catching his attention. He was roosted across the property fence and I could hear three gobbler flocks further away on the adjoining property gobbling with enthusiasm at every sound. Near what I assumed was fly-down time I yelped with a few mild cuts thrown in. He double-gobbled so I shut up and waited for fly-down. He flew down on the other side of the fence and gobbled when he hit the ground so I responded quickly with sharp cuts leading into excited yelps. He immediately double-gobbled again so I waited. He came right through the fence to the edge of the field and strutted and gobbled twice. I waited. As the light grew he noticed my hen and jake decoy in the corner, did a double-take, gobbled, and ran the 80 yards straight to the jake decoy. He went into a strut nose-to-nose to the decoy when I took the shot at 14 paces at 06:30. Nice way to start the season.

The bad... opening day afternoon/evening I called in two gobblers from several hundred yards away. They walked into the field adjacent to my setup along a creek bed and straight across gobbling regularly. They walked right up to the creek bank and began making their way down into the creek bottom. At this point I had a 30 yard shot but since they were coming in so good I decided to wait for a better one. You know the rest of the story I'm sure. Both big gobblers dropped down into the creek bed out of my sight and I never saw them again. But I did hear them gobble some more. They had walked down stream along the dry creek bed before coming up on my side but way down (100 yards maybe?) only to make a big circle around my setup going to roost on the adjoining property.

The ugly... a morning or two later and the wind has picked up considerably. Step out of the truck and hear a gobble some distance off but good enough to get a pretty good fix. I ease into the woods real quiet trying to get as close as I can to try and eliminate the stiff competition from hens. Get real close...60 yards...and I can see him up on his roost limb when he moves. He gobbles constantly and at everything. I sit still and wait until near fly down before offering up a very soft tree yelp. He spins around on the limb and gobbles hard so I wait. Start hearing hens working up the hollow towards him and begin calling to the hens but to no avail. As soon as they get under him he drops straight down and they begin to lead him away so I start calling aggressively to the hens. They turn around and come back to me...but too close. One comes to within 12 - 15 feet and gets nervous and starts putting. I begin purring and whining with soft clucks mixed in until she gets relaxed again and starts yelping. I can see the gobbler strutting about 80 yards behind her. Two hens now and they move off away from me and the gobbler follows. I can guess where they're going because of a slough and a hay field so I get up and move to cut them off along the edge of the field. When I get up to the field edge I stop and call...he gobblers about 100 - 120 yards off so I ease up to get near a cedar tree along the field edge. The gobbler and I run into each other at the cedar tree. He slides to a stop and his eyes get real big...I freeze, staring at each other for a heartbeat or two. In the time it takes me to suck in a breath, the gobbler spins and darts around the other side of the cedar. I drop my slate call from my left hand and sprint around the cedar tree hoping to get a shot but he's already disappeared.

Lessons learned for the umpteenth time...take the shot when the opportunity presents itself and practice patience...

Thank you Matt for another entertaining update.

Upland Birds
The months of March and April were extremely dry, but some well needed rain arrived the end of April and carried over through the first couple weeks of May.

Typically, spring rains work against the reproduction of upland birds, but in this case, it was in favor of our western regions we lease land since it ended an 8 month drought.

While driving the roads we've seen an abundance of seed for both the pheasant and quail to produce a good hatch.

Only time will tell, but at this point in time, conditions look favorable for the birds and habitat.

13 May

Traveling Turkey Hunters
Matt, a member that travels from Pennsylvania for spring turkey and fall deer sent us a long feedback email of several topics with one we have heard from others each year that is interesting to us. An article he says tells much about Pennsylvania hunting and how when he went to the Sate Game Lands (Pennsylvanian phrase for public lands) he found the parking lot overflowing onto the road. He turned around and went back home. The part of the article he highlighted emphasizing hunter pressure in an otherwise upbeat story was:

"A good spot to try your luck during the April 29-May 27 season in northeast Pennsylvania is State Game Lands 57. It offers over 44,000 acres of cover to set up for an educated, late-season gobbler. But that's a lot of land to cover, so choosing specific hunting points beforehand is vital. Since turkeys will have seen plenty of hunting pressure by mid-May, focusing on areas where other hunters haven't reached is key. If you're willing to stray off the beaten path, SGL 57 can be a good bet." (By T.C. Mazar, Pennsylvania Hunting & Fishing News, May 11, 2006)

His point about the article centered on if it is public land there has been hunters on all of it. He says he has harvested more turkey the past 8 years as a MAHA member in the central mid-west on short trips than he has in his home state having the entire season. His last successful Pennsylvanian hunt was a jake (the only bird he said he saw the entire weekend). He offered some other tidbits such as: "...on the way back to the truck I passed two other hunters also trying their best with slim pickings..."

Matt also says his MAHA hunt this year went well, 2 of 4 tags filled, except for the part of losing his carry bag with camera and favorite slate, hummmm. He offers when loading back at the truck and changing clothes to rid himself of ticks always check the ground before driving off. Another good tidbit reminder for all of us.

Thanks Matt for all the feedback, it all adds up.

12 May

Traveling Turkey Hunter
"It was honestly the most gobbling I had ever heard in my life and it all went just like you dream about all winter long."

10 May

Recurring Success
Travis is one of those deer hunters that puts in the time and gets the results. He also graced us over the years with some well written accounts at how he makes his success. When a hunter such as Travis speaks it is good to listen well.

Congratulations and thank you Travis for taking the effort to continue to send in your hunting accounts and pictures. Each one counts!

7 May

Archery Turkey - Wow!
"...Pre Season scouting really helped..."

Thank you Steve for a fine picture display and congratulations on the toughest way to take some toms, impressive.

5 May

Consistent Turkey Hunter
We have seen this hunter each spring with a tom in hand far more than we can remember for how long. What I was told is that he has found more turkey in shorter time on MAHA leases to include his first single setup double than he has experienced on his other options. Thank you Kevin for taking the time to send in your pictures. Each one counts.

What Kevin has done is what many have done before and that is join MAHA as a means to gain supplemental hunting options or add to what they have gained on their own through private contacts, individual leases and public land. Over time those that initially start with that approach soon give up their other options and concentrate their time on MAHA leases.

Thank you to all that have sent in their updates, pictures, hunting accounts and general feedback. It all adds up to a better assessment of where we need to head as nothing ever stays the same. There are more to be posted on this page that I have yet to get to. In general we are about two weeks behind. We will get all those that sent us material for posting posted and those that have given us general feedback that does not get posted to this page we certainly appreciate every one of them. Some of those general comments are collected in a summary and provided back to the membership in forms as posted immediately below in the "Spring Turkey Status To date" update.

Spring Turkey Status To Date
Turkey season is well underway and an observation made a new this spring that we have seen before over the years concerning scout/setup compared to run/gun hunters. The hunters that reports the fast harvests scout with binos or long distant observation then setup their hunt, typically the next morning, calling and decoying. The hunters making the most reservations are those that seem to practice run and gun. One of the lower success rate contributing factors cited by the run/gun hunters has been the weather suppressing the gobbling. The single lease hunters out number the multiple farm hunters many times over.

Overall, we are behind compared to last season at this point with many crediting the Missouri rainfall for seeing but not being able to bring the toms in. The Kansas hunters have surpassed the Missouri success rate credited to the longer (earlier opening) and much better weather.

Resident vice non-resident hunters are running neck and neck getting their first tom if comparing scout/setup hunters. Nearly all of the run/gun hunters are traveling from big woods states. The Association non-resident hunters are also by far doing more deer scouting than turkey hunting and that contributes to most being satisfied with one tom and then walking the land for this fall's deer stands. Those filling multiple tags are more likely to be a resident member.

From all the telephone conversation and emails, success and failure is on par with previous seasons the weather not with standing. If considering the weather then we are behind reflecting how the best effort may go without tags filled. Good luck to all!

3 May

Upland Bird
"...If you are looking for a hunting club, talk to John. He runs a good shop. Believe me I used to belong to the other club in town. There is no comparison!..."

Thank you Gaylen for the fine compliments. Congratulations on your bird hunting!

The referrals from members to their friends about application to MAHA have increased this past month. The coming June 1st price increase seems to be part of the motivation. For those of you with friends dragging their feet about coming to a decision let that decision occur one way or the other before June. Good luck to all over the coming summer!

1 May

Now that the waterfowl season is behind us, it's time to prepare for the 2006 season. We have several projects pending to help improve the quality on several of our wetlands in both the North and Middle Zones.

In Linn County we've been fighting beavers for several years. They have the drain pipe on the south end of the west marsh blocked so bad we're going to remove the drain pipe and start fresh. We'll keep water in the north marsh for holding water and plant some food plots on the south marsh once it's dry enough to plant.

We also have plans to repair the levee south of blind four, rebuild the blind and plant a food plot.

The landowner in Holt County is planning to plant corn again if weather permits, so everything should be the same unless it's too wet to plant corn and they are forced to plant beans.

In Henry County, we're going to do some dirt work to hold more water in the slough and drain the wade-in marsh, disc as much as we can and plant some feed for the ducks if weather permits.

Frog's Lake was our only dry hole last year. We will keep the gate closed and try to hold water if we get enough spring rain. We feel there is adequate vegetation remaining in the lake bed to make it through the season. Once the crops are harvested in the fall, we have a 12 inch extension for the drain pipe to flood the edges of the crop stubble around the lake.

All of these projects take time, money and cooperation from mother nature. We do our best with the resources we have to work with to provide the best hunting possible.

Bird Dogs
Attached are a couple of pictures of my bird dogs, can you tell which one is 10 and which one is hunting squirrels? I think I am getting more like the 10 year old.

Thanks Mike, we certainly appreciate the humor our dogs bring and the hunters that enjoy them more than just for the collection of birds. Good luck with the pup!

April 2006

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