By BRENT FRAZEE
The Kansas City Star
Bitter cold will greet Missouri youngsters when they partake in the last segment of the youth firearms deer season this weekend.
That’s quite a contrast from the early segment Nov. 2-3, when they hunted in near-ideal conditions and shot 18,676 deer.
The weather could reduce participation, officials with the Missouri Department of Conservation said. But kids who are set on their last chance at taking a deer will be out Saturday and Sunday.
The statewide hunt is open to youngsters ages 6 to 15. If a youth is not hunter-education certified, he or she must hunt in the immediate presence of an adult.
Some Kansas deer hunters brought in the new year Wednesday in their tree stands.
Jan. 1 marked the opening day of the firearms whitetail-only antlerless season. It will run through Jan. 12.
That hunt, open statewide, is the first of three Kansas whitetail antlerless-only seasons in January. A special extended firearms season is set for Jan. 13-19 in Units 7, 8, 15 and 19, and an archery antlerless season will run Jan. 20-31 in Unit 19.
Hunters who did not fill a deer tag in one of the 2013 seasons (regular firearms, archery, early antlerless-only and muzzleloader) may use their permits during the whitetail antlerless seasons in January. However, all permits will become antlerless whitetail-only permits and and unit restrictions on the permit will apply.
The early arrival of winter is adding fuel to the fire for some Kansas duck hunters in the Southeast Zone.
Many hunters were outraged when the Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission voted to load the season with late hunting dates. Agency biologists were in favor of a season that included hunting in the entire month of November, the whole month of December into early January, with a late segment of Jan. 18-26. Instead, commissioners, some of whom hunt private clubs in the Southeast Zone, set the dates as Nov. 2-3 and Nov. 16-Jan. 26.
With the early freeze up, that hasn’t worked well for hunters in the northern part of the zone. Marshes at the Marais des Cygnes Wildlife Area, for example, have been ice-covered for more than three weeks, the area is holding very few ducks and hunting pressure has dropped dramatically. The season success rate is 1.8 ducks per hunter daily.
The situation is better at the Neosho Wildlife Area, which is holding about 25,000 ducks. But the hunter season success rate is about the same as at Marais des Cygnes.
The commission’s actions also are coming under scrutiny in the Low Plains Early Zone, where members went against staff recommendations and set a season heavy in late dates. They set the last segment of the duck season in that zone as Dec. 21 through Jan. 5. The major hunting area in that zone, the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, has been iced over for much of that time and harvest has dropped off dramatically.
A Kansas chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation has something to gobble about.
The organization has honored the Flint Hill Gobblers for having the nation’s best JAKES event (for children ages 17 and under).
A jake is a term for a young male turkey, but it also is the nickname for young hunters in the organization. There were more than 1,000 JAKES events across the nation in 2013, but the Flint Gobblers won honors for the chapter’s spring turkey hunting clinic.
The chapter will have its 13th annual clinic March 29 at Dry Creek Sporting Clays, south of Emporia.
Sealed with a hiss
Not to be outdone by New York’s lowering of a crystal ball to bring in the new year, little Brasstown, N.C., has its own tradition.
It’s called the Possum Drop.
For 20 years, residents and visitors have welcomed the new year at the Clay’s Corner country store by watching a clear box containing a live opossum lowered at midnight.
The practice came under fire when the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals complained. But the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission ruled that Clay Logan, the owner of Clay’s Corner, had permission to capture a live opossum and use it in the tradition, so the show went on this year.
To reach Brent Frazee, The Star’s outdoors editor, call 816-234-4319 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.