Admin. This may seem like a useless reminder, however every year when we send out the map updates we get a good many returned for lack of a current address. So, for those of you that have moved in the past 12-18 months please call Jennifer with your change of address update.
Waterfowl. Don, Andrew, Chris and Jasper get their limit of early teal. Since the weather was warm and the water was a little lower than some years, it took nearly 45 minutes as opposed to our usual 10 minutes or less.
Teal are consistent every year at being at differnt locations. The office gets one call after another before the season wanting to know where the hot spots are. We're baffled to respond because it's impossible to pattern these birds from the office.
Year after year a handful of members put in the time to scout, hunt hard and enjoy great success in return for their efforts. This September has been very warm and windy which has made the teal hunting spotty but members like Andrew always seem to find a way to start out on a good note.
Deer Tags. Reminder! All resident and non-resident Kansas and Iowa deer hunters must show a copy of their deer tags before reservations are excepted.
For example, during the early muzzleloader season everyone sent in their tags except 1 group of three non-residents. We requested the tags three times and like the old story the check is in the mail it was put off until the day before the hunt and was supposed to arrive by fax and never did.
Another example is members using doe permits to utilize prime spots during peak periods.
Maps. First issue during the second week of October. Until then we have more prime places to hunt than we have hunters. We'll have a second mailing the end of October.
Reservations. Some members continue to call to make reservations during non-office hours. A reminder is that these reservations are not honored. The telephones have been forwarded to the land managers during non-office hours to address land contracting. For the incident when a member made a reservation to the answering machine and hunted a property legitimately reserved by another member only creates a disciplinary problem for us and we have only one answer for a lack of discipline.
Duck. Finally, one of our duck blind covering crews took along a camera to show others what a blind looks like when freshly covered. Thanks to all that have volunteered. Your work certainly makes the Association better than it was the day before. Pictured left to right: Matt and son, Dennis, Bruce and Steve.
We know many of you have let us know of your availability and we simply have not been able to call everybody just yet. We have your names and numbers listed and hope to give everybody a chance to participate.
A long range panoramic picture of one of our duck wetlands showing that even during a drought we have water in our wetlands.
Fishing. A fun picture from Matt fishing with his boys and dog that is reported to be a hard hunting cottontail chaser. Matt promises to provide photographic proof of his dog's ability this season.
Upland Birds. Jim is primarily a pheasant hunter sent in a series of photos to include quail, deer and turkey.
Whitetail. Another from Steve! Via email: "Finally got a picture of one of the 12 pts buck I had seen while scouting. I thought the one I saw earlier was a little wider and taller, but it is hard to tell sometimes and this may be a different buck than I had seen. By looking at the picture he may or may not make B&C, it may be close, depending on the amount of deductions. He does look like he has a split G2 making him a 13 pt and adding a little more to the deductions. I'll do my best to get him and then I'll let you know what he scores."
A note about how Steve scores his deer from past harvests is that he is an honest scorer. Deer he has harvested and scored himself in the 150's would probably be scored in the 160's by many others. A lot of us do not get a chance to see a big deer and the pictures Steve provides show us what a quality buck is all about.
Change. Nothing remains the same and that is true for the hunting industry as well. The changing environment within the pay-to-hunt business has been impacted by several factors. None of these influences are new they only shift location and either increase or decline in their impact.
We have seen over the last several decades many small acreage outfitters come and go. The small outfitter of around 10,000 acres or less has always operated in Kansas and Missouri and since the advent of the non-resident Kansas deer tag the small operator has doubled in number. The typical sequence is the small acreage outfitter gathers up land from neighbors, promises a big pay out for land and then slowly disintegrates as clients rarely return and the search for new hunters often exceeds the capability of the outfitter. The result that impacts MAHA is that these same landowners we compete for want the excessive amounts per acre lease the small outfitter promised for land leases and failed to provide. This scenario is played out in every region we lease land almost every year.
The Kansas non-resident deer tag has also influenced landowners. The talk around any country coffee house is the tags are bringing in $2,500 and the landowner/farmer sees this amount as what every outfitter is gaining from every hunter and wants more for his land lease because of it. The landowner believes all pay-to-hunt organizations are getting that amount for all their hunters, figures how many hunters his land will support and then wants more than 1/2 that amount for the lease. This of course inflates the cost of land beyond what we can afford to pay.
The cost of land has significantly increased over the past several year. An actual example is the farm within 2 hours drive of Kansas City one of your MAHA staffers purchased in 1996 for $750 per acre. Recent sales within several miles have been $1,400/acre for 80 acres of all creek bottom, $2,200/acre for 40 acres of hay ground on blacktop and 10 acre country home sites are costing $3,400/acre on acreage 300 feet wide and 10 acres deep. Another increasing cost has been property taxes. The same farm afore mentioned cost $716 for the entire year in 1996 and the 2002 taxes increased to $2,176.
Other examples of land cost increases due to hunting competition include north Missouri woodlots that have increased in cost to $800/acre and expectations are that a $1,000/acre is not too far off in the future. No one 10 years ago ever thought the scrubby woodlots of Missouri would bring even $300 an acre at any time.
Duck leases and wetlands purchases continue to lead amongst all land costs. This is a part of the country where swamp land is prime real estate. Wetlands within the three sub-basins of the lower Missouri River basin command up to $2,000/acre. Our federal government pays up to $700/acre just to develop the wetlands. That $700 often translates into a substantially greater increase to the landowner's potential sale value far in excess of that $700/acre free work he just gained. Developing wetlands is also a great risk as no matter how good the wetlands may look to the human eye they do not always attract ducks. Location being the primary factor.
The final analysis is that costs increase over time and so will the MAHA membership this year. We will add up the costs of our leases and adjust accordingly. More to follow.
Mule Deer. This picture is of 9 out of 13 Mule Deer we jumped from a Bluestem field while scouting some land in western Kansas. They may appear to be distant in the picture taken from a cheap field camera, however they are less than 100 yards away. They were bedded and waited in a small grass filled depression until we were within 10 yards before jumping up and slowly trotting off. In order to slow them down for a photo we whistled loud, they stopped and by the time we retrieved the camera from pocket they resumed a slow walk over the ridge. All together we watched them for about 30 seconds. That much time would have allowed for a thorough identification of racks and easy shot. In this case the entire group of 13 were doe or at least antlerless.
Unlike last season when the Association had zero Mule Deer hunters this season 4 members have tags in our best units. We certainly hope to see some good harvest photos this year.
Scouting. Steve captures another fine whitetail with his camera. We cropped this photo to show the time of day, 11:29. Knowing a buck like this is in the woods makes standing in the deer stand all the more motivating. We will continue to add to Steve's camera deer page in the scouting section to show the impressive number of bucks he has been able to capture on film. Thanks Steve and a lot of good luck to you this season!
Waterfowl. This picture initially does not seem like much. It is an excellent stand of purple topped Smart Weed on one of our wetlands we drained off at the close of last season and now brush hogged where we want open water once flooded in time for duck season. The ideal combination of food and water all in front of the blinds.
This is the time of the year when in the free time between land runs to inspect and possibly renew or initiate new land contracts the MAHA staff works on wetlands.
While the updates like this and similar waterfowl updates in the previous month may seem like an over emphasis on effort for our duck and goose hunters it really demonstrates how much easier it is to show our wetlands and waterfowl hunting areas compared to showing a picture of a woodlot for deer hunters. With a woodlot all that can be seen is trees. This stand of Smart Weed clearly shows this will be a good duck spot this fall.
Whitetail. Steve Blazer was kind enough to send in some more whitetail deer pictures from his game cameras he uses to assist with scouting Association Land. He also said he happened to run into the landowner that told him about an 18 pointer using the same area.
Maps. This year's map updates will not make it online or on CDs this season. We simply ran out of time. The map update will be provided via paper by snail mail as in years past with an errata sheet telling which to discard and which ones to add. Changing out map sheets may seem simple, however every year we have one or two members that are lazy about their map updating and hunt the wrong wade-in areas or numbered blinds on a wetlands or hunt a property no longer under lease. Our position has been and will continue to be to assist landowners prosecuting trespassing citations against members hunting land no longer under lease and placing onto our watch list those that hunt from blinds they have not properly reserved. If this seems harsh it is not. It is the right action to take.
Seasons. With the arrival of the first of the hunting seasons, dove, come those that attempt to make reservations to hunt outside of the scheduled office hours of 9 to 530, Monday through Friday. Why the scheduled office hours for reservations and why life is not perfect? It is simple that we get what we pay for and to keep the Association annual dues reasonable means we pay for only a set number of office staff hours.
We are a long ways from online 24/7 reservations as parity for all will remain with the Association. Not all members have internet access and a good portion that do it is for their children and not themselves. Having equal access to all land by all will remain the standard.
For those that attempt special favor or demonstrate an inability to comply with Association rules of making reservations or any other they simply are added to our "watch list". These are the folks we do apply special treatment to.
Why the telephones are transferred during this time of year is to address the landowner contracts we push hard to close this time of year. Land contracting may appear to be a clean easy process and the reality is far from that. We must avail ourselves both early and late to accommodate the landowner/farmer schedule. Breakfast, lunch and dinner for may we deal with is 5-6AM, 11AM through 1PM and 9 - 11PM. Theses are the periods when many are close to a telephone and we are at the busiest.