Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism earns national conservation award


The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism received a national award from the National Wild Turkey Federation for managing public lands to provide quality habitat and quality hunting experiences.

A representative of the KDWPT accepted the Land Stewardship award during the 42nd annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show in Nashville, TN.

The NWTF determined this year’s award winners based on how their work strengthens the organization’s new Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative.

KDWPT has a long history of collaborating with the NWTF and other nongovernmental organizations to accomplish habitat restoration and conservation projects on the 126 wildlife areas across the state.

“From their staff to their habitat and wildlife conservation projects, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is leading the way in collaborative endeavors,” said Becky Humphries, NWTF CEO. “We are proud to partner with such a dedicated agency to put boots on the ground to Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.”

Deer harvest surveys e-mailed to select hunters


Hunters who purchased a deer permit for the 2017-2018 deer seasons are asked to take a close look at their e-mail inbox and spam folder as they may have been randomly selected to complete a Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Deer Harvest Survey.


The e-mail will come from the address with the subject line  “2017-18 Deer Harvest Survey,” and it only takes about three minutes to complete. Even if a hunter didn’t hunt after purchasing a permit, or was unsuccessful, they are still encouraged to complete the survey as all information is important to staff.


Data gathered from the survey helps staff estimate the number of deer killed, hunter success rates and activity, hunter opinions and more, all of which help biologists develop deer management policies and hunting regulations.

Spring Turkey Permits Available over-the-counter and online March 1


Everyone likes a good sale, and hunters are no exception. That’s why the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is giving turkey hunters the equivalent of an “early bird special” (pun intended) by offering discounted spring turkey permit/game tag combos through March 31.

Hunters who purchase spring turkey combos between March 1 and March 31 can save $7.50 when compared to purchasing the spring turkey permit and turkey game tag separately after March 31.







Any resident or nonresident hunter may purchase a turkey permit (good for one bearded turkey) valid in units 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6. Hunters with a spring turkey permit are eligible to purchase one spring turkey game tag (good for one additional bearded turkey) valid only in units 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6.


In addition to a turkey permit and game tag, spring turkey hunters must also possess a valid Kansas hunting license, unless exempt by law.


For more on the Kansas spring turkey season, visit

Prevent wildfires


As Kansas endures another dry winter, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) cautions anyone spending time outdoors to be aware of fire danger. One only has to look at the past two springs to be reminded of the threat posed by wild fires.


In March of 2016, an enormous wildfire burned more than 400,000 acres in Oklahoma and Kansas. Dubbed the Anderson Creek Fire, it burned nearly 300,000 acres of Barber County alone, killing more than 600 cattle and destroying 16 homes and structures. Rough terrain and thick grass, combined with dry conditions and high winds, created a frightening fire that was almost impossible to control. It was billed as the largest wildfire in Kansas’ history.


However, just a year later, it would lose top billing. The Starbuck Fire burned through northern Oklahoma and into Clark County on March 5, 2017 – a monster, even compared to the Anderson Creek Fire. Pushed by 50-60 mph winds and fed by 6 percent humidity and heavy fuel, the fire was a living nightmare for Kansans living in the ranching and farming communities of Clark and Comanche counties. The Starbuck Fire burned 500,000 acres in Clark County and 200,000 acres of Comanche County. The speed and ferocity of the fire made it deadly. One person was killed and more than 6,000 cattle burned to death. Dozens of homes and buildings were reduced to ashes. It also killed wildlife, including pronghorns, deer and coyotes.


While the Starbuck Fire roared, dozens of others burned around the state, including those in Reno, Ellis, Rice and Rooks counties, stretching rural firefighting resources thin. It will take years to recover and rebuild.


While many followed the news last spring and are familiar with these stories, they are worth repeating to keep fire danger fresh in Kansans minds. KDWPT staff remind anyone spending time outdoors this winter to be especially careful. Never throw burning cigarettes from moving cars. Never drive through tall grass; hot mufflers or catalytic converters can ignite dry grasses. And avoid campfires and burning trash until measurable precipitation falls.

Learn to ID birds at a Christmas bird count


Have you ever watched a bird flitter from tree to tree wondering what kind it was? Curious which species have stopped by your feeder for a quick bite to eat? The fastest way to learn to identify birds is to get in the field with a guide in-hand and maybe a birding expert or two, and a Christmas Bird Count provides the perfect opportunity.


Christmas Bird Counts bring birders of all skill levels together as they spend time canvassing established circular census areas, recording species and numbers of birds observed. Information recorded at Christmas Bird Counts is then entered into regional and national databases, in part, to help illustrate population and migration trends.


The Kansas Ornithological Society (KOS) has taken the guesswork out of finding a count near you by compiling a comprehensive list of Kansas Christmas Bird Counts on their website, The list includes all the location and contact information you need, so all that’s left is clothing appropriate for traipsing outdoors, a pair of binoculars, and a good field guide.


This holiday season, hone a new skill and find yourself among like-minded individuals at a Christmas Bird Count near you. You’ll be glad you tried something new.

End-of-the-season garden checklist


By Scott Vogt

Dyck Arboretum of the Plains


It seems that fall has finally arrived.  Cooler north winds are blowing and the leaves are beginning to change on the trees. Things are winding down in the garden too, except the asters.  “Raydon’s Favorite” aster, New England asters and “October Skies” aster are fantastic this year. Pollinators are covering these nectar rich flowers during the warm afternoons. It is fun to watch so many happy pollinators in the garden. There is so much to love about the fall season.


Soon these flowers will fade and the growing season will officially come to an end. It will be time for the prairie to sleep. But before you put the tools away for the winter, there are a few things to take care of now to prepare your garden for next spring. Here is your Fall Garden Checklist.



As a general rule, I leave perennials such as wildflowers and grasses stand through the winter. The forms and textures of plants such as little bluestem and switchgrass provide movement in the garden and should be left standing. Coneflowers, blackeyed susans and coreopsis are important seed sources for birds. The dark seed heads and stems look great with a back drop of little bluestem. I take note of plants that need to be divided and/or moved next February or March. Diseased plants with powdery mildew or rust should be removed. Those infected leaves will harm next year’s plants.



Even the best container plants start to fade this time of year. The annuals, vegetables or herbs that have been growing in them can be discarded into the compost pile. Ceramic pots need to be emptied of the soil and put away in the garage for the winter. Removing the soil now will prevent cracking the pot with frozen soil. The soil in plastic pots can be left in them, but I like to move them to a place out of the sun so they don’t fade. If the soil is tired, plan on refreshing it by mixing with some new potting soil with it or adding some compost or perlite. A little preparation this fall will have your pots ready when spring arrives.



This is an important time for lawn care. Obviously, the leaves that fall must be removed or composted into the lawn. More frequent mowing/composting can take care of a majority of the leaves, but if you have large trees the leaves must be removed. A large covering of leaves will smother your lawn. It is also an ideal time to fertilize cool season grasses. The nutrients will be taken up and stored in the roots for vigorous growth next year. If you have a warm season lawn such as buffalograss, now is the perfect time to control winter annuals such as henbit, dandelions and bindweed. Spraying with a broadleaf weed killer such as 2,4-D will clean up your lawn for next season. Be sure you’re using a spray that is labeled for buffalograss.



I purposely don’t remove some leaves in perennial beds to insulate the plants. In a shade garden, they are perfect as mulch. Just don’t let them get so thick that they smother out your woodland plants. Leaves make great compost that can be used in your garden or flower beds.



I learned something new on our field trip to Lenora Larson’s garden. She has chosen annual varieties that self-seed, but that pollinators love. She lets the plants stand through the winter and then composts them into the soil where they grew last year. These composted plants are fantastic mulch and add nutrients back to the soil. The next season, she lightly thins the plants that germinate and the cycle is repeated the next year. Her plants are thriving and she has very few problems with disease or insects. Her approach to landscaping with pollinator-friendly wildflowers, annuals, grasses and shrubs was stunning. I have never seen so many pollinators in such a small area. Her home was an oasis for pollinators.



This is the worst time of the year to prune trees. Trees are going dormant and pruning now will encourage new growth that will not get hardened off before cold weather. It is better to take notes of trees that need pruning and remove suckers or limbs when the trees are completely dormant in November through January. Pruning now will only weaken the tree and reduce its winter hardiness.



If you like the spring bulbs, now is the time to plant. I prefer bulbs that naturalize and come back year after year. Narcissus and species tulips are great spring bloomers. They require little or no care and reward us each year with bright blooms. These bulbs are the harbingers of spring. Now is also the time to put away tender bulbs such as cannas, dahlias, and gladioli. Allow them to dry for a few days before storing them in a cool, dry area away from sunlight.



Remove weeds when they are young. Getting after them now and keeping your gardens and display beds free of winter annual weeds such a henbit will mean less weeding next spring. A little effort now will allow more time to enjoy your garden next spring.


Spring seems like it is so far away, but it will be here before we know it. By doing a few simple tasks in your garden this fall, you will save yourself time and effort next season. Why not put your garden properly do bed this fall so you can enjoy it more next year? It will be worth your time.

Fall turkey hunting not your average season


If you like a good challenge, want to test your hunting prowess, or just want to shake up your fall hunting plans, consider adding a fall turkey hunt to your list. Spring turkey hunts are hugely popular, and given the time of year, it’s no surprise – it’s the first hunting season of the year, temperatures are comfortable, and action is everywhere. But come fall, action-packed turkey hunts can still be had, that is, if hunters are up to the challenge.


Hunting techniques used in the spring can prove less effective later in the year. Unlike the spring when mating is top priority, during the fall season, turkeys are gathering into winter flocks and are focused on finding food. Therefore, fall hunting is often a matter of finding birds, scouting their feeding areas and setting up an ambush point.


A hunting technique common in southern states is to break up a flock of turkeys, sometimes using a dog to scatter the birds, then hiding quietly as the birds begin to re-group. Birds will make a “kee-kee-run” call to locate flock members, and the hunter can use this call to an advantage. One thing that doesn’t change from spring to fall is the fact that good camouflage and well-timed movements are still keys to success.


The 2017 fall turkey hunting season runs from Oct. 1 – Nov. 28 and opens back up again from Dec. 11 – Jan. 31, 2018.


Hunters may take one turkey during the fall season. Resident fall turkey permits are $27.50 for hunters 16 and older and $7.50 for hunters 15 and younger. Nonresident fall turkey permits are $52.50 for hunters 16 and older and $12.50 for youth 15 and younger. Fall turkey permits are available wherever licenses are sold and at


For information on turkey hunting regulations, legal equipment, unit maps and public hunting areas, reference the 2017 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary and 2017 Kansas Hunting Atlas, or visit

Tuttle Creek State Park to host guided bike ride


Clip on a helmet, stretch out your legs, and prepare to experience Tuttle Creek State Park in a whole new way! In celebration of national Bike Your Park Day on Sept. 30, a 5-mile guided bike ride will be offered at Tuttle Creek State Park, 5800 River Pond Rd A, Manhattan. The free, family-friendly event will take place from 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m., after which bikers can enjoy complimentary breakfast snacks.


The group will meet at the camp store, located in the River Pond Area prior to take-off.


There is no cost to participate; however, participants must bring their own bike and have an annual vehicle permit or purchase a daily vehicle permit, $5.00, to enter the park.


Bike Your Park with staff at Tuttle Creek State Park and see how fast you can pedal yourself to a good time.

Hike into the night Oct. 6 at Tuttle Creek State Park


If stepping into the unknown and going on an expedition is something that sounds fun to you, and you’re not too scared of the dark, here’s an event with your name on it – Tuttle Creek State Park’s Nite Hike. On Oct. 6, adventure-seeking hikers will embark on an hour-long hike through Tuttle Creek State Park from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.


The hike is limited to the first 50 people who sign up. To secure your spot, call (785) 539-7941 or e-mail


The group will meet at the Tuttle Creek State Park office, 5800A River Pond Rd., prior to hiking into the dark. Hikers are encouraged to wear hiking-appropriate shoes, and bring water and a flashlight, glow stick or headlamp.


Grab a friend, lace up, and hike into the night!

Secretary Zinke declares October National Hunting and Fishing Month


From The Outdoor Wire


Just days before National Hunting and Fishing Day – which is held on the fourth Saturday of September every year – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke declared October will officially be recognized as National Hunting and Fishing Month at the Department. Zinke championed the order to recognize the lasting and positive impact of hunters and anglers on wildlife and habitat conservation in America. This order comes on the heels of several major sportsmen actions from Interior including the announcement September 20 of the addition of 600 acres of land in Arizona’s Santa Teresa Mountains to make Wilderness Areas accessible for hunting and fishing.


“I grew up in northwest Montana surrounded by public lands and waters. Some of my best memories are hunting and fishing with my dad and granddad, and then later teaching my own kids to hunt and fish. That’s something I want more families to experience, which is exactly why increasing access to public lands is so important,” said Secretary Ryan Zinke. “Hunters and anglers are the backbone of wildlife and habitat conservation in America, and they contribute billions of dollars to conservation. From my perspective, the more sportsmen we have in the woods and waters, the better our wildlife and land will be. Formally recognizing the contributions of hunters and anglers to wildlife and habitat conservation is long overdue.”


“Hunters, anglers, and target shooters are the best conservationists who contribute so much through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts,” said Richard Childress, second Vice President of the National Rifle Association, NASCAR driver, and honorary chair of Hunting and Fishing Day. “Last year, they contributed $1.2 billion toward conservation and protecting our natural resources. We need more mentors taking young people out and teaching them to hunt and fish, so I’m glad Secretary Zinke is promoting hunting and fishing at the federal level.”


The declaration was signed at the grand opening of the Wonders of Wildlife Museum in Springfield, Missouri September 20. Event speakers included former Presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.


President George H.W. Bush sent a video message with a virtual ribbon cutting. Earlier in the day Secretary Zinke scuba dove in the shark-filled aquarium and conducted a question and answer session with a fifth grade class of young conservationists.


Hunters and anglers contribute billions of dollars to conservation through initiatives like the Federal Duck Stamp, which sells for $25 and raises nearly $40 million each year to provide critical funds to conserve and protect wetland habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Excise taxes on firearms, ammo and tackle also generate more than a billion dollars per year through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration acts.


This September and October, the Department of the Interior is setting its sights on the continued role that hunters and anglers play in wildlife conservation.


Earlier this month, Secretary Zinke signed a directive to support and expand hunting and fishing, enhance conservation stewardship, improve wildlife management, and increase outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans. The order expanded hunting, fishing and shooting on public lands and sought innovative solutions to open private land. It also focused on wildlife and habitat conservation and restoration as well as better collaboration with states, tribes and territorial governments. The move was widely praised by sportsmen and wildlife conservation organizations.


In August, the Secretary announced a proposal to expand hunting and fishing opportunities at 10 National Wildlife Refuges, and he announced the initial stages of a plan to acquire land to make the Bureau of Land Management Sabinoso Wilderness Area accessible for the first time ever to hunters, hikers, and wildlife watchers.


On his first day in office, Secretary Zinke reversed an order that would have banned lead ammo and tackle on National Wildlife Refuge lands, and he began the process of expanding hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands across the Department.


“It’s imperative that we have people like Secretary Zinke speaking about and promoting hunting and fishing. It’s not only our heritage, it’s also the key to true conservation,” said Craig Morgan, a country music performer who performed at the event.


“It is refreshing that Secretary Zinke understands the value of hunting and fishing to American conservation,” said Major David Eaton, who spoke at the event. “The more public game lands become available to Americans, the better off our country will be.”


In addition, Secretary Zinke recently made recommendations to President Trump on 27 national monuments, calling for changes to some that, while still protecting the land, would also protect and expand public access to that land for citizens who want to hunt, fish, hike, and experience the joy and beauty of those public lands.


Editor’s note: Unfortunately many of the recommendations by Secretary Zinke call for reducing the size of some monuments while opening other monuments to oil, gas and coal exploitation, negatively impacting the habitat available to wildlife and hunters on these public lands.