Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pheasants Forever to Host Youth Instructional Shooting Clinic

HAYS ­– The Smoky Hill Chapter of Pheasants Forever, in partnership with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, invite youth of all ages to attend a free instructional shooting clinic on Saturday, August 8. The clinic will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Hays City Sportsmen’s Club and all equipment will be provided.

Participants will receive instruction with shotguns and pellet rifles in a controlled, safe, live-fire environment guided by experienced instructors. Participants do not need to preregister and lunch will be provided.

For additional information, contact Smoky Hill Pheasants Forever Chapter member Luke Winge at (785) 726-1600.

This event is part of the Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever No Child Left Indoors (NCLI) initiative, which encourages chapters to collaborate with conservation partners and provide youth and their families opportunities to learn about our outdoor traditions and conservation ethic.

Nationwide, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever chapters hold more than 1,000 youth events a year, connecting more than 50,000 youth to the outdoors. They reach out in their communities to sponsor youth mentor hunts, outdoor conservation days, shooting sports, conservation camps, fishing tournaments, outdoor expos, hunter education classes, habitat projects and much more.

To find a chapter near you, visit and

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Kansas Native Plant Society to Host 2015 Annual Wildflower Weekend

LAWRENCE – Wildflower enthusiasts from across Kansas are encouraged to meet in Manhattan on September 25-27 for the Kansas Native Plant Society’s 37th Annual Wildflower Weekend (AWW). Those attending the three-day event will enjoy opportunities to explore and learn about the native plants in the northern Flint Hills.

Six unique sites will be visited, including the Konza Prairie and Tuttle Creek Lake, and attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from guest speakers Kelly Roccaforte and Shelly Wiggam, doctoral candidates at Kansas State University, as they discuss their prairie pollinator research projects.

The annual meeting, speaker presentations, awards ceremony, and silent auction will take place Saturday evening.

For more details on this event, and to register, visit

Enter Your Favorite Outdoor Photos in the 2015 Wild About Kansas Photo Contest

PRATT – The peak of summer and start of fall can provide stunning lighting and subject matter for outdoor photographers. Whether it’s a catfish fresh out of the water, a crimson sunset over a pasture, or a whitetail peeking through a tree line, Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine staff want to see what makes you Wild About Kansas.

Photographers of all skill levels are encouraged to submit their favorite wildlife, outdoor recreation, and landscape photos before Oct. 23. There is no fee to enter, and the contest is open to both residents and nonresidents.

Photographers can submit up to three original photos taken in the state of Kansas. Photos must fit into one of the three categories – wildlife, outdoor recreation or landscape – and will be judged on creativity, composition, subject matter, lighting, and the overall sharpness.
First, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes will be awarded in each category, and one honorable mention per category will be named, as well. Winners will be featured in the 2016 Kansas Wildlife & Parks January/February photo issue.

Entries must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Oct. 23. An entry form must be submitted for each participant and can be obtained by Photo format should be JPEG or TIFF and file size should be not less than 1mb and not more than 5mb.

For more information, visit, or contact contest coordinator Nadia Marji

Monday, July 27, 2015

Youth Outdoor Festival in Hays August 15

ELLIS – If you’re interested in introducing your child to the world of shooting sports, hunting, fishing and other outdoor-related activities, mark your calendar for August 15. Hays area businesses, conservation groups and shooting sports groups have teamed together to offer a free day of target shooting and outdoor activities for youth 17 and younger at the 18th Annual Youth Outdoor Festival. The event will be held Saturday, August 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hays City Sportsman's Club located 1/4 mile north of I-70 Exit 157.

Youth will learn about and experience trap and skeet shooting, archery equipment, air rifles and BB guns, muzzleloaders, small-bore rifles, and more. There will also be a BASS casting competition, paintball target shooting, and a furharvesting demonstration.

Youth will be closely supervised at each station by expert volunteer instructors, and all equipment will be supplied.

Hunter Education certification is not required, and youth must be accompanied by an adult.
Registration for the event can be completed onsite prior to participation. Lunch will be provided, and youth will have a chance to win prizes, including guns, fishing tackle and other outdoor equipment.

For more information, contact Kent Hensley at (785) 726-3212 or Troy Mattheyer at (785) 726-4212.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Finalists Named for 2015 Kansas Leopold Conservation Award

WICHITA– The Sand County Foundation, in partnership with theKansas Association of Conservation Districts (KACD) and theRanchland Trust of Kansas (RTK), is proud to announce the finalists for the first annual Kansas Leopold Conservation Award®, which honors Kansas landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.

The 2015 finalists are:
  • Randall and Nicole Small, who own 2S Land & Cattle, a cow/calf ranch and crop farm in Neodesha. The Smalls practice rotational grazing, plant cover crops to maintain healthy soils and have been no-till since 1999. To benefit wildlife, the Smalls built wildlife-friendly fencing and created quail habitat surrounding their crop fields;
  • Sproul Ranch, a 2,200-acre cattle ranch in Chautauqua County owned by Bill and Peggy Sproul. The cattle graze on tallgrass prairie restored by the Sprouls. The grass is burned on a rotational basis and the unburned, regrown grass serves as wildlife habitat and provides natural fuel for future burns;
  • and the Vorhees family, owners of Lazy VJ Farms, a cow/calf ranch in Fredonia. The family practices rotational grazing and they have added cross fencing to their land to prevent overgrazing. They have also created wetlands, buffers and riparian areas to improve water quality, reduce soil erosion and provide wildlife habitat.
Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. It should inspire other landowners through these examples and provides a visible forum where farmers, ranchers and other private landowners are recognized as conservation leaders. In his influential 1949 book,A Sand County Almanac, Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.”

The 2015 Leopold Conservation Award will be presented for the first time at the KACD Annual Convention in Wichita on November 23. The award recipient will receive $10,000 and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold.

“KACD supports conservation programs that protect our state’s natural resources, and we are pleased to join Sand County Foundation and the Ranchland Trust of Kansas in recognizing exemplary land stewards for the Kansas Leopold Conservation Award,” said Jim Krueger, KACD executive director. 

“The Ranchland Trust is honored to partner with KACD and Sand County Foundation in presenting the first Kansas Leopold Conservation Award. This state has a long, rich history of land conservation and stewardship, and this award highlights those who represent the legacy on our working farms and ranches. Congratulations to the finalists. We thank them for helping us preserve special places in Kansas,” added Bill Eastman, RTK chair of the board.

The Leopold Conservation Award Program in Kansas is made possible by the generous support of Clean Line Energy Partners, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Ducks Unlimited, International Transmission Company, NextEra Energy Resources, Westar Energy, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, DuPont Pioneer, Kansas Forestry Service, The Mosaic Company and The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.
For more information, contact Chris Schellpfeffer, Sand County Foundation, 608.663.4605 ext. 31, or visit

More Than 500 Special Hunts Available By Draw

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) Special Hunts Program is just that: a program that provides lucky hunters with special hunting experiences. The program offers hunting opportunities with limited access to public and private land, providing the potential for higher quality hunts and greater harvest rates. Interested hunters must apply online. The application period for First Draw Hunts (hunts occurring in September and October) closes Aug. 10, 2015. The application period for Second Draw Hunts (hunts occurring in November, December, January and February) closes Sept. 28, 2015.

There is no fee to participate in a Special Hunt, and the application process is open to residents and nonresidents. During the online application process, hunters will select hunts by species, date and category, including Open Hunt, Youth Hunt, or Mentored Hunt. All applicants are eligible to apply for Open Hunts, regardless of age or hunting experience. Youth Hunts require parties to include at least one youth 18 or younger, accompanied by an adult 21 or older who may not hunt. And Mentored Hunts are open to both youth and novice hunters supervised by a mentor 21 or older who may also hunt. There are more than 500 individual hunting opportunities available for the 2015-2016 hunting seasons.

Applicants will be entered into a random computer drawing conducted within one week of the application deadline. Successful applicants will be emailed their hunt permit, as well as any necessary maps and other pertinent information. Hunters are responsible for purchasing any licenses and permits required by law.

This year’s special hunts provide access to public and private lands that are not open to public hunting.  The hunts will occur on 27 different wildlife areas, seven state parks, 11 private land parcels, one national wildlife refuge, two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers areas and three city/county owned properties. Hunts are divided by species, weapon and hunt type. Most of the hunts are for deer and upland game, but opportunities are also available for waterfowl, doves, turkey and furbearers. There are 317 Open Hunts, 121 Mentor Hunts, 71 Youth Hunts, and two deer hunts for individuals with disabilities.

For more information on the Special Hunts Program, visit and click “Hunting/Special Hunts Information.”

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Registration Open for Assisted Deer Hunt at Tuttle Creek Lake

MANHATTAN—Youth and disabled hunters have until July 30 to apply for a limited number of spots in an assisted deer hunt at Tuttle Creek Lake.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Riley County Fish and Game Association, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) at Tuttle Creek Lake are accepting applications for the 2015 Tuttle Creek Youth/Disabled Assisted Deer Hunt, September 12 and 13. The hunt, which is offered free of charge, is open to resident youth age 11-16 and hunters with a certified disability. Applications are due July 30.
Participants will need a deer permit, and, if required by law, a hunting license and hunter education certificate. Assistance meeting these requirements, including scholarship funding to purchase a hunting license and deer permit, can be provided.

If needed, rifles and ammunition will also be available to hunters. Each participant will be guided by an experienced hunter, and arrangements have been made with area lockers to provide basic processing free of charge. Other items provided for this hunt include accessible hunting blinds, hunting locations, hunter orange hats and vests, and transportation to the field.

Participants will be required to attend a firearm safety presentation and sight-in at the Fancy Creek Shooting Range at 4 p.m.Sunday, August 16.

For more information, or to obtain an application, contact USACE natural resource specialist Steve Prockish at (785) 539-8511, ext. 3167, or by e-mail at

This event is made possible by Friends of Fancy Creek Range, Kansas City Chapter of Safari Club International, Kansas State Rifle Association and the Tuttle Creek Lake Association.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

2015-2016 Federal Duck Stamps On Sale Now

FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA – The 82nd Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, commonly known as the Federal Duck Stamp, is now on sale. Waterfowl hunters, birders, outdoor enthusiasts, artists, and stamp collectors can obtain the $25 stamp online, at select post offices, and wherever hunting licenses are sold. For all buying options, visit

Previous purchasers of the stamp will notice a price increase of $10 from last year. This is the first price increase the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has implemented in 24 years, and also the longest single period without an increase in the program’s history. The increased price of the duck stamp will allow the Service to devote more funds to conserving wetland habitat that benefits birds and many other species.

Ninety-eight percent of the proceeds from duck stamp sales go to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which supports wetland acquisition and conservation easements for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Since the program’s inception, sales of the stamp have raised more than $800 million to protect more than 6 million acres of habitat for birds and other wildlife.

The 2015-2016 Federal Duck Stamp features a pair of ruddy ducks painted by wildlife artist Jennifer Miller of Olean, N.Y. She is the third female artist in the program’s history to have her work featured on the stamp.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Lovewell State Park’s Annual Sand Castle Contest Tomorrow

WEBBER – Lovewell State Park, located in Jewell County in northcentral Kansas, is gearing up for its annual Sand Castle/Sculpture Contest on Sunday, July 19. The event, which is open to teams consisting of up to five members, will be conducted at the Southwinds Beach area. Teams must register at the Lovewell State Park office between 8 a.m. and noon on Sunday.  Entries will be judged at 1 p.m., and prizes will be awarded in two categories: Sand Castles and Sand Sculptures. Grand prizes for the event are provided by KRFS Radio in Superior, Nebraska and KREP Radio in Belleville. Even if you don’t enter the contest, park staff invite you to the beach to view these sand masterpieces!  

A new event included this year is the First Annual Float Your Boat Contest, also held at the Southwinds Beach area on Sunday. Participants must register from 11 a.m. to noon, and boats must be displayed until the races begin at 2 p.m. Each two-person team must have one member at least 18 years old. Only boats constructed entirely of cardboard and duct tape are eligible, and boats may be decorated in family-friendly fashion. Entries will race against the clock, vying to cross the finish line quickest while still afloat and with both team members onboard. All racers must wear approved life jackets.

A state park vehicle entrance permit is required for the events. A daily permit is $5, and an annual permit is $25. The events could be cancelled, depending on Lovewell Reservoir’s blue-green algae status. Status updates will be available on the KDWPT website,, and on Lovewell State Park’s Facebook page or by calling (785) 753-4971 on Friday, July 17 for more information.

Public Fishing Etiquette

Too often, line, plastic lures, and other trash are left behind by well-intentioned anglers. A small piece of a plastic worm here and a little bit of line there, hardly seem like cause for concern, but when every angler leaves a little bit of trash behind, a big mess can be the end result.

Today’s monofilament fishing line can last many years after an angler has left it behind. Not only is it an eyesore, but fishing line can have deadly consequences for fish, turtles, birds and other wildlife.

Here are some tricks and tips for leaving a public fishing spot better than you found it:
-Always carry a folded-up trash bag in your tackle box. It can serve as a poncho and gear protector during the rainy season, and as a trash container for empty cups and other food items when it’s time to clean up.

-Allot space in your tackle box for broken lures or lures in need of repair. At the end of every trip, empty it out at the nearest trash can, or take them home to repair on a Sunday afternoon.

-Keep a coffee can in your vehicle to collect old line. By cutting open a small slit in the plastic cover, you can stuff in old line. Also, always clean up the line of others you come across. (The good karma may pay off during your next fishing trip!)

-Consolidate hooks and lures where you can. When looking through your gear prior to a trip, consider placing similar lures together, especially if you only have one or two left. This will cut down on the number of bags or containers that need to be thrown away when out fishing.

Kansas has some great public fishing opportunities, and we owe it to the land and our fellow anglers to keep it that way. When fishing public waters, leave it better than you found it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Frogging Season Underway

PRATT– A summertime tradition in Kansas is underway as lakes and ponds around the state are teeming with an outdoor delicacy unlike any other. The 2015 Kansas bullfrog hunting season, also referred to as “frogging,” began July 1 and runs through Oct. 31. During this time, anglers can attempt to catch these four-legged amphibians with several different techniques.
Bullfrogs may be taken by hook and line, dip net, gig, bow and arrow, or crossbow, and a line must attach bow to arrow, and the arrow must have a barbed head. If you’re really up for a challenge, bullfrogs can also be taken by hand. The best method is to walk quietly through the water at night and shine a bright light along the bank until a pair of glowing eyes appear. Temporarily blinded by the light, frogs can be approached and grabbed or netted.
The daily creel limit is eight, with a possession limit of 24. Unless exempt by law, froggers must have a valid fishing license to take, catch, or kill bullfrogs.
Considered a delicacy, frog legs have a taste and texture that resembles a cross between shrimp and fish. A popular way to cook them is to dip the legs in egg and then into a mixture of flour and corn meal, seasoning salt, and pepper. The legs are then fried to a golden brown and served up hot.
For more information on bullfrog season, visit and click “Fishing / Fishing Regulations / Bullfrogs” or consult the2015 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary.
Have at it and have a hoppin’ good time!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Lesser Prairie Chicken Numbers Increase Again

PRATT – The lesser prairie chicken population increased approximately 25 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the recent range-wide aerial survey. Wildlife biologists with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) attribute the increase to abundant spring rainfall and ongoing efforts associated with the Lesser Prairie Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan.
Increases were observed in three of the four ecoregions across five states – Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas – where the species exists. The Sandsage Prairie Region of southeast Colorado showed the biggest gain – approximately 75 percent from a year ago. The Mixed Grass Prairie Region of the northeast Panhandle of Texas, northwest Oklahoma and southcentral Kansas showed an increase of approximately 30 percent, and the population in the Shortgrass Prairie Region of northwest Kansas grew by about 27 percent.
“An overall 25 percent increase in the lesser prairie chicken population across its five-state range is welcome news,” said Ross Melinchuk, chairman of WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative Council. “This year’s increase, on the heels of last year’s 20 percent increase, is evidence of the species’ ability to rapidly recover from downturns resulting from drought and poor range condition. With continued improvement in nesting and brood-rearing habitat associated with abundant rainfall and private landowner actions to conserve and restore their habitat, we are optimistic the species will recover to historic population levels.”
The only ecoregion with a continued downward population trend is the Shinnery Oak ecoregion of eastern New Mexico and western Texas. This ecoregion is still recovering from a prolonged period of drought. However, recent roadside surveys indicate lesser prairie chickens in this area are starting to respond to rainfall that occurred in late 2014 and early 2015.

“We’re confident that with continued moisture and drought relief, next year’s Shinnery Oak populations should continue to recover,” said Bill Van Pelt, WAFWA grassland coordinator.
The nonprofit WAFWA is coordinating efforts established under the Lesser Prairie Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan, which is an initiative designed to engage private landowners and industry to conserve lesser prairie chicken habitat and minimize impacts to the species. To date, industry partners have committed $46 million in enrollment fees to pay for mitigation actions, and landowners across the range have agreed to conserve nearly 100,000 acres of habitat through 10-year and permanent conservation agreements.

Companies, landowners, farmers and ranchers may still enroll in the range-wide plan and receive regulatory assurances that their operations can continue under an accompanying Certificate of Participation. Participating companies can continue operations under certain restrictions while providing funds to conserve prairie chicken habitat. To date, about 180 oil, gas, wind, electric and pipeline companies have enrolled about 11 million acres across the five states. Enrollment fees are deposited with WAFWA and administered to fund conservation efforts by private landowners to benefit the lesser prairie chicken.

The lesser prairie chicken was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in May 2014. The final listing rule allowed private industry to develop and impact habitat if enrolled and participating in WAFWA's range-wide plan, and it also provided various options that landowners can use to receive similar coverage. The range-wide plan provides incentives for landowners and industry to protect and restore habitat, which is important because they control much of the species’ range.

Organized in 1922, WAFWA represents 23 states and Canadian provinces, from Alaska to Texas and Saskatchewan to Hawaii – an area covering nearly 3.7 million square miles of some of North America's most wild and scenic country, inhabited by more than 1,500 premier wildlife species.

More information, including the range-wide plan, is available on the WAFWA website at

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Learn About Spiders During Hands-on Evening Workshop

MCPHERSON – Have you ever wondered how wolf spiders got their name? Or how they can see so well at night? If you’ve ever questioned what purpose spiders really serve, there’s a workshop coming up you don’t want to miss. Dustin Wilgers, Ph.D., from the Department of Natural Sciences at McPherson College, will be hosting several interactive evening workshops to teach kids and adults about Kansas spiders. Those in attendance will gain a better understanding of spider biology, adaptation, and the importance of spider conservation. Participants will also have the opportunity to see and handle live spiders.
Each two-hour workshop will begin at 8:30 p.m. and include a night-walk to find and catch wolf spiders. Participants are asked to bring a flashlight or headlamp, although a few extras will be available for loan.

Upcoming workshops will be held at the following locations:
July 10: Gage Park, Manhattan (meet in Zoo Parking lot)
July 17: Flint Hills Discovery Center, Manhattan (Must register through the Flint Hills Discovery Center)
July 24: Lakewood Discovery Center, Salina
August 7: Sternberg Museum, Hays
August 8: Sternberg Museum, Hays

For more information, or to sign up, contact Wilgers at

This project is made possible with funding provided through the Chickadee Checkoff Small Grants Program of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Fishing’s Future Announces Catch-Photo-Release Contest for Youth Anglers

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, TEXAS – Fishing’s Future, a national organization aimed at getting more families outdoors, is proud to announce the national launch of the 2015 Catch-Photo-Release contest for youth anglers.

Contest requirements are simple. All a young angler has to do is catch a fish, photograph it, release it, and write an essay, in 200 words or less, about their angling experience. The photo and mini-essay must be submitted to the Fishing’s Future Facebook page ( beforeAugust 31, 2015 to be eligible to win great prizes. The contest is not species-specific and all youth 16 and younger may participate. Winners will be notified via e-mail and announced on Facebook.

The grand prize winner will receive a week-long vacation for a family of four at Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort on South Padre Island, Texas, including a Black Dragon Pirate Ship cruise, guided shark fishing excursion, and more. Airfare, hotel and activity expenses will be covered, not including food and drink.

The second place winner will receive a 2015 Tracker Topper 1436 Jon boat and trailer courtesy of the Tracker Marine Group.

The third place winner will receive a Humminbird Helix SI GPS and Old Town Vapor 12 kayak with paddle and personal flotation device.

And each week four random winners will be drawn to receive rod/reel and tackle prize packages.

For more information visit