Thursday, April 30, 2015

May 9 OK Kids Day at Meade State Park

 If you’re in need of a family-friendly outdoor activity for your children, consider bringing them to Meade State Park’s annual OK Kids Day on Saturday, May 9 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Open to children of all ages, the free event will include fun activities such as fishing, wingshooting, archery, crafts, a treasure hunt, sandcastle contest, paddle boating, and more.

There is no cost to attend and no daily park pass will be required the day of the event; however registration is required. Preregistration will be available Friday, May 8 from 4 p.m. - 9 p.m. onsite at the Visitor’s Center, and again from 8 a.m. - 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 9
Thanks to local and corporate sponsors, participating youth will have the opportunity to win several great prizes including a fishing rod/reel combo or tackle box and sleeping bag. Prizes are limited but youth age 7 and under are automatically eligible for a prize.

A complimentary lunch of hamburgers, elk burgers, and hotdogs will be served.

For more information on this event, or to volunteer, call the Meade State Park office at (620) 873-2572.

Crappie Days Are Here Again

Pomoxis nigromaculatus
 If someone wishes you a “crappie day” this time of year and you’re an angler, you accept that wish with a smile. It’s a good thing. Crappie anglers wait all year for late April and early May when water temperatures in Kansas lakes warm to the high 50s and low 60s. That brings one of our most popular sport fish to shallow water to spawn, making them available to anglers of all ages and skill levels. And crappie are popular because they may be the tastiest fish in our waters.

Spring is the only time of year when anglers fishing from shore or wading might have an advantage over boat anglers. When the spawn gets going, crappie can be caught in water as shallow as 2 feet, depending on the clarity. And since the fish will be concentrated in shallow areas with specific habitat, anglers often catch good numbers of fish on a single outing.
What’s good crappie habitat? Crappie like cover such as brush, cattails, flooded weeds or rocky areas. Rip-rap dams and jetties are perfect places to start fishing. 

Crappie anglers prefer light tackle – spinning or spincast outfits rigged with 6- or 8-pound test line. A long, light-action rod is perfect for detecting soft strikes and working hooked crappie out of cover. Often called “paper mouths,” crappie have thin skin along their top jaw and can’t be “horsed” out of the cover without the hook pulling out.

Small white or chartreuse jigs or minnows are effective baits. The trick is getting your lure or bait in or close to the cover without spooking the fish or snagging up. One tried and true method is referred to as “doodlesocking,” which is simply dipping your bait vertically into the cover. The jig or minnow is worked slowly or held suspended 6 inches or a foot off the bottom before it is lifted straight up and repositioned. An 8-foot fly rod rigged with a spinning reel allows added reach and can be perfect for doodlesocking. Strikes are usually a “tap,” felt as the jig is held suspended. The angler must set the hook quickly and lift the fish straight up out of the cover.

Another popular method is to rig a small float 2 feet above the jig or minnow. The float can be cast along the brush or rocks and allowed to bob and drift with the breeze. Strikes can be subtle, often just moving the float or pulling it just below the surface.

The crappie spawn usually starts in the upper ends of reservoirs, with fish congregating in small coves and inlet creeks. The spawn will continue down the lake as water warms in the lower reaches. This can extend the spawn through the end of May.

According to the2015 Fishing Forecast, the top three reservoirs for crappie fishing this spring are John Redmond, Perry and Hillsdale. But don’t avoid your favorite fishing spot if it’s not high on the forecast’s list. Remember that the spawn season concentrates crappie in specific areas, so good fishing can still be found in lakes with only fair crappie populations.
You’ll find great fishing information on the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) website,, including a full-length how-to video “Kansas Crappie Bonanza.” You can also keep track of lake temperatures and conditions, as well as angler success through the Weekly Fishing Reports.

The statewide creel limit for crappie is 50 fish per day. However, local creel and length regulations may vary, so be sure to consult of the2015 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summarywhere you’ll find a complete listing of Kansas lakes with special regulations. The regulation pamphlet is available at all KDWPT offices, license vendors and online.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Shooting Skills for Women Event May 30

 If you’re a female age 18 or older and are interested in learning the ins-and-outs of shootingMay 30 at Lil’ Toledo Lodge, 10600 170th Rd, Chanute.
firearms in a fun, low-pressure atmosphere, consider joining other like-minded women at the Shooting Skills for Women event
Hosted by the Kansas Department of Wildlife,Parks and Tourism, Lil’ |Toledo Lodge, Kansas Bow Hunters Association, and the Kansas Wildlife Officers Association, this annual shooting event will provide women with the opportunity to handle and fire a variety of firearms. Participants will gain confidence and experience with shooting shotguns, revolvers, semiautomatic hand guns, small caliber rifles, big bore rifles, and black powder rifles. A variety of archery equipment will also be available for use, including long bows, recurve bows, and compound bows. No experience is required, and all guns and equipment will be provided.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided courtesy of the Kansas Bowhunters Association and prizes will be drawn for.

The cost to attend is $50.00 and pre-registration is required. The event will be open to the first 40 women who register and pay.

For more information, or to sign up for this event, contact Stacy Hageman at (620) 672-5911.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Hell Creek On Heels 5K, 10K Trail Runs

“Wild Within You” will be hosting the 5th annual “Hell Creek On Heels” trail run May 2 at 8 a.m. Runners will meet at the trailhead at 7:45 a.m.
Wilson State Park. The 5K and 10K runs will take place on Switchgrass Trail and begin at

Runners will be met by aid stationsalong the trailoffering water and assorted energy-packed snacks. After the event, runners can enjoy some free race goodies, as well as enter in several drawings for prizes.

Runners can preregister online at, in person at the Hays Recreation Commission, 1105 Canterbury Dr, Hays, or by mailing an entry form to Wild Within You, 101 W. 3rd, Liebenthal, KS 67553. Cash or check payments are accepted and race fees are non-refundable.

For more information, visit, or contact Sara Kay Carrell at (785) 650-1620.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Webster State Park to Host OK Kids Day

STOCKTON – If you know a child who would enjoy participating in a jam-packed day of outdoor exploration and instruction, consider taking them to the OK Kids Day event at Webster State Park on May 2. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., youth ages 4 to 12 are invited to participate in a variety of activities including: a fishing clinic, Laser Shot shooting simulator, skins and skulls presentation, K-9 demonstration, nature craft project, first aid kit making, bird migration game, and more. There is no cost to attend and all supplies and equipment, including lunch, will be provided.

To make the day even more memorable, youth who participate in eight or more of the OK Kids Day events will have their names entered into a drawing for a chance to win a lifetime hunting, fishing, or furharvesting license of their choice, as well as other prizes.
For more information on this event, contact Jana Slansky at (785) 425-6775.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Trophy Turkey Program Recognizes Big Gobblers

Big game and turkey hunters love to compare the animals they take. Most trophy-class
animals are older and more difficult to hunt, presenting a unique challenge many hunters enjoy. Deer hunters, for example, use well-known scoring formulas to compare antlers based on size and symmetry. Turkey hunters are no different, and those who take an extraordinary specimen may qualify for a Trophy Turkey Award from the Kansas Department of Wildlife,Parks and Tourism (KDWPT).

The scoring system published by the National Wild Turkey Federation in the early 1980s is used for the KDWPT awards program. A score sheet and certificate application can be downloaded at Hunters score their own birds using the following formula, taking measurements to the nearest eighth of an inch: First, weigh your bird on accurate scales with witnesses. Next, measure the beard (or beards) from the point it protrudes from the skin to the longest bristle. Then, measure each spur from the point where it protrudes from the scaled leg skin. Now you have the necessary measurements and are ready to calculate the score.

Multiply the length of the beard (or sum of the beard lengths if there is more than one) times two. Then add the length of the spurs together and multiply the sum by 10. Add the weight to these two figures for a total score. For example, a bird that weighed 21 pounds, with a 10-inch beard and spurs that measured 1 1/4 inches each would score 66. (21 + 20 [10 x 2] + 25 [1 ¼ + 1 ¼ x 10] = 66)

The minimum score for a Trophy Turkey Award is 65. KDWPT keeps Top 20 lists in two categories: typical and nontypical. Birds with multiple beards would fall under the nontypical category. The largest typical bird on record scored 88 4/8 and was taken in 2007 in Franklin County by Bobby Robinson of Eupora, Miss. That bird weighed 26 4/8 pounds, had a beard that measured 17 ¼ inches and spurs that measured 1 3/8 inches each. The largest nontypical ever awarded was taken in 2008 by Rick Pritchard of Little Rock, Ark. Pritchard’s bird, also taken in Franklin County, weighed 27 pounds, and had spurs that measured 1 1/8 inches each. However, the bird sported eight beards that measured 54 5/8 inches in total. The official score was 158 6/8. 

The spring turkey seasons runs through the end of May, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy an exciting spring hunt. If you’re lucky enough too take a big ole gobbler, weigh it and take some measurements. You might qualify for a Trophy Turkey Award.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Investigation Into Dead Fish At Wilson Reservoir Continues

English: Smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Staff from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are investigating dead and dying fish near the spillway at Wilson Reservoir in Russell County. In late March, KDWPT district fisheries biologist Scott Waters investigated reports of dead fish in Spillway Cove near the lake’s dam and found approximately 50 dead fish.

 “Probably half of the fish were adult smallmouth bass,” Waters said. “The rest of the mix was made up of walleye, drum and one striped bass. They appeared healthy, and some were still alive, swimming lethargically.”

Dead fish and water samples have been sent to labs for testing, and results are expected in early May. Investigators have identified no obvious reason for the die-off, which may number several hundred fish. The number of dead fish showing up each day appears to be slowing down.

The 9,000-acre reservoir, known for its crystal clear water and rugged prairie surroundings, has suffered through the long-term drought. The water level is more than 8 feet below what is considered normal; however, at this time, it does not appear connected to the dead fish. There is no evidence that any threat is posed to anglers or lake users.
“Our staff will continue to monitor the situation,” said KDWPT Fisheries Section chief Doug Nygren. “And we’ll inform the public as soon as test results are received and evaluated or we learn anything new.”

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Waystations needed to save monarchs

English: Photograph of a Monarch Butterfly.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With the Kansas Wetlands Education Center and Cheyenne Bottoms in its backyard, Barton County is no stranger to butterfly tagging, and the each year, butterfly enthusiasts take part in butterfly counts throughout the warmer months. These efforts have shown numbers have dropped to critical levels over the past few decades.  Barbara Green, a representative of Monarch Watch, hopes more people will respond by creating monarch waystations.

At the 2015 We Kan Conference held in Salina, Green presented a talk about how to create the waystations, which are simply gardens in which the butterflies can find its most critical food source--milkweed plants. These islands along the migration route to Mexico are now a critical necessity if the species is to survive.

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Apply For Nonresident Deer Permit By April 24

 The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) would like to remind nonresident deer hunters that the application deadline for 2015-2016 Nonresidents Deer Permits is midnight on April 24. Only online applications are being accepted through the KDWPT website,, where applicants will be taken through a process step-by-step.

A nonresident white-tailed deer combo permit is $346.96, including application and convenience fees. The Mule Deer Stamp is $102.50. Nonresident youth white-tailed deer combo permits (hunters 15 and younger) are $116.34. All nonresident permits are combo permits and include one either-sex whitetail tag and one antlerless-only whitetail tag. Hunters who draw a permit will also need a nonresident hunting license.
Application instructions, season information, permit quotas, as well as last year’s drawing statistics, can be accessed at

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Free Entrance At Kansas State Parks April 25

 In today’s world when we hear the word “free,” we sometimes associate it with something that is low quality or that comes with a catch. However, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is offering something free that bucks both of these notions. If you’re looking for a quality family activity that doesn’t cost money and doesn’t come with strings attached, take advantage of the Kansas State Parks Free Park Entrance events April 25. 
On this day, families can visit any Kansas State Park without the purchase of a daily vehicle permit, and a variety of parks will be hosting open houses, allowing visitors to also tour cabins and other facilities. If that’s not incentive enough, select parks will be providing additional family-friendly activities on-site such as guided hikes, animal displays, prize drawings, fishing and archery tournaments, 5k races, and more.

To plan your state park visit, visit and click on the “Event Calendar” for a list of state park locations, contact information, and details on activities offered. All park offices will be open but schedules are subject to change without notice. 

Visitors can purchase annual camping permits and make cabin or campsite reservations during the open houses, as well. For pricing information and to purchase permits online at For online permit purchases, click “License/Permits.” For campsite and cabin reservations, click “Reservations.”

Friday, April 17, 2015

Young Wildlife Rarely Need “Saving”

 You’re mowing your lawn when you notice something moving in the grass. You stop the mower and peer over to find it’s a nest of young rabbits, and the mother is nowhere in sight. Fear sets in that they may not make it through the night and you begin to devise a plan to “rescue” them. It’s a mistake that many well-intentioned people make, and unfortunately, it usually results in the premature death of the wildlife being “saved.”

The notion that a young animal found in the wild will die if not given care is wrong. In most cases, the mother is typically feeding nearby, keeping a distant eye on her offspring. Not only are most young found in the wild not abandoned, picking them up is against the law. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment have regulations against such activity that can result in a fine up to $1,000 or more. In addition to legal repercussions, wild animals can pose a number of health risks, including diseases such as distemper, rabies, Lyme disease, roundworms, tapeworms, mites, and tularemia.

Additionally, if a “rescued” animal were to bite someone, it must be put to death and tested for diseases. Even if they don't bite, the young usually fail to survive in captivity because most people are not equipped to handle wild animals, especially as they mature. On the off chance the animal does survive in captivity, it typically loses instincts that allow it to survive in the wild.

It is important to remember that although young wildlife may be cute, they belong in the wild. Wild animals cannot legally be inoculated by veterinarians, and few people really know how to care for them.

If you should see a young animal in the wild this spring or summer, observe at a distance and consider yourself lucky. But remember, just because they appear alone, that doesn’t mean they are abandoned.

If you really want to help, leave young in the wild where they were born and belong. 
If you find an injured animal, a list of licensed rehabilitators can be found at, by clicking "Services/Rehabilitation.”

Thursday, April 16, 2015

KDWPT’s Jennifer Rader Receives Rising Star Award

Jennifer Rader, director of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s Southeast Kansas Nature Center, was presented with the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environment Education (KACEE) Rising Star Award. The award, presented on April 10 at KACEE’s Environmental Education Awards Celebration in Manhattan, recognizes individuals who are new to the Kansas conservation and environmental education field but are already making an impact. Rader was hired by KDWPT to direct the nature center in Galena in 2013.

Rader’s parents, Mike and Ellen Rader, instilled in her a love for nature very early in life. As a young girl, she volunteered in outdoor events at Wilson State Park such as Eco-Meets and OK Kids Days. After graduating from Fort Hays State University in 2008, Rader worked in environmental education and took a leading role in developing innovative and engaging programs, including Kansas Wildscape’s Wildlifers program. The Wildlifers program encourages kids to earn “badges” by completing certain outdoor and wildlife-related tasks.
As director of the Southeast Kansas Nature Center, Rader uses her passion for wildlife and her creativity to reach people of all ages. She hosts preschoolers for story time, local school classes, and community groups.

Linda Phipps, the founder of the nature center notes about Jennifer, "I have seen seasoned nature lovers listen to every word she has to share. Every time I am around Jenn, I learn something new. She has a genuine love for and curiosity about nature and conservation and she shares that with everyone she meets.”

KACEE is a statewide nonprofit association of many public and private agencies, organizations, businesses and individuals that promotes and provides effective, non-biased and science-based environmental education for all Kansans. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Volunteers Sought For Kansas State Parks Clean-up Days

 If you’re looking to gain volunteer service hours, are wanting to give back to your community, or are just needing a good excuse to spend productive time outside, consider volunteering for one of the “Keep It Clean Kansas” events. Hosted by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), and Westar Energy, the one-day events will consist of volunteers collecting trash and recyclable materials at one of five Kansas state parks from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. in recognition of Earth Day.
The five state parks chosen for 2015 include: Cedar Bluff, El Dorado, Elk City, Lovewell, and Perry.
Volunteers are asked to preregister at Trash sacks and gloves will be provided on location. Apart from the satisfaction of doing a good deed, volunteers can also enjoy a complimentary lunch and take home a commemorative event t-shirt.
For more information, or to register, visit