We’ve hit that time of year when people start hanging up their fishing rods and getting their hunting gear unpacked from the closet.
You can start to feel it in the air, and with the dove and youth deer seasons now underway and teal season coming up quick, it’s an exciting time to be a hunter.
It’s also the time of year when hunters love to gather together, have some dinner and drinks and raise some money for conservation. Hunters are huge supporters of conservation efforts, not just directly but also through the purchase of guns, ammunition and other hunting gear, of which a portion of the sales go back into conservation.
There are a plethora of hunting-related events coming up between now and next spring, too many to list here in their entirety, but I thought I’d take the time to highlight some of the major ones in key locations that are specific to our Topeka Capital-Journal and other GateHouse readers. Get your calendars ready.
Starting in Topeka, there are a couple of major noteworthy events coming up, and perhaps the most noteworthy is the return of the Kansas Monster Buck Classic to the capital city.
The Classic returns to Stormont Vail Events Center, previously known as the Kansas Expocentre, after being canceled in 2018 and hosted by Wichita’s Century II in 2019. It will take place Jan. 24-26, 2020, and is slated to return for 2021, as well, though a date for that show hasn’t been announced yet.
“We are in the middle of a great market of hunting enthusiasts, and we look forward to bringing the show back here to Topeka, where it will have the room to grow,” said Kellen Seitz, general manager of the Stormont Vail Events Center for Spectra, in a news release.
The Justin Corbet 17th annual memorial shoot also is set to take place next weekend, with shooting from 1 to 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, and 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at Ravenwood Lodge, 10147 S.W. 61st in Topeka.
The Saturday Special will include a biscuits and gravy breakfast from 8 to 9:30 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the Verne Dow Crazy Rabbit Shoot also to take place Saturday, according to the event's Facebook page. Shooters will get four shots for $5, and every clay broken enters you into a drawing to win a $50 grand prize held at 1 p.m. following the memorial shoot.
Cost for the memorial shoot is $40 per entry and $30 per re-entry, with trophies given out in the Men's, Ladies and Junior (16 and under) divisions.
Another event making its return this fall in the capital city is the annual banquet for the Topeka chapter of Ducks Unlimited, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017.
Doors will open and refreshments will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 19, followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and the live auction at 8 p.m. Early-bird prices for tickets are $40 for a single person, $70 for a couple and $20 for Greenwings (youths) by Sept. 12. After that, tickets will be $50 for singles and $20 for Greenwings and can be purchased at the door.
Among this year's featured firearms are the DU 2019 Shotgun of the Year, a Benelli SBE3 12-gauge semiautomatic; a Colt 1911 22LR Hand Gun; and a Browning Cynergy CX Composite over/under shotgun.
For more information, contact Jeff Neal at 785-221-6625, Cheech Kehoe at 802-233-1472 or Thad Wende at 785-845-5210.
A few days later and a few miles east, another Ducks Unlimited event is scheduled to take place, as well.
The Jefferson County DU dinner is scheduled for 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Perry American Legion Post 142, 410 Perry Place. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m.
This event holds a special place in my heart as Jefferson County was the first DU banquet I ever attended, back when I was just a Greenwing.
Tickets are $45 for a single, $55 for a couple and $20 for a Greenwing. For more information, contact John Hertlein at 785-640-3113.
The American Legion Post 142 also will be host in the spring to the Kaw Valley chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, which will put on its annual banquet beginning at 6 p.m. April 3, 2020.
For more information on that event, contact George Obrein at 785-766-0459.
Here’s a look at some of the other events going on across the state:
The Johnson County chapter of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever will host a free youth and women’s pheasant hunt beginning at 7 a.m. Oct. 5 at the Eckman Gamebird Farm, 988 E. 1800 Road in Baldwin City.
The women’s hunt is being offered to women with limited prior hunting experience, while the youth hunt is for hunters ages 11-16. Each youth is required to have an adult sponsor and a Hunter’s Safety Certificate.
For each hunter, the day starts with a hunter safety refresher, warm-up clays and then an hour-long pheasant hunt. After the hunt, attendees will have time to chat with other hunters, shoot additional clays and enjoy other activities, ranging from archery to pellet guns. Lunch will be provided and prizes will be raffled to the youth hunters present during lunch. All youth participants will be eligible for a shotgun raffle that will take place during lunch at the event, and all youths will receive a membership to Pheasants Forever Ringnecks magazine.
For more information on how to register, go to http://jocopheasantsforever.org/youth-hunt/ or contact Jim Milazzo at 913-636-3369 or by email at email@example.com.
The National Wild Turkey Federation’s Kansas State JAKES Camp will begin at 8 a.m. Oct. 5 at White Memorial Camp, located 6 miles north of Council Grove just off K-177 highway.
Activities include turkey calling, a JAKES Take Aim BB gun range, trap shooting, archery, still target shooting, arts and crafts, canoeing, sling shots and axe throwing. A total of $450 in Cabela's gift cards will be given away to the top three winners in the two divisions of the turkey calling contest.
"As JAKES coordinator, my goal is to pass on my love for the outdoors and to put smiles on kid’s faces," said organizer Gib Rhodes.
Fees are $25 for current members, $35 for nonmembers (which includes membership) and $25 for adults, with a $15 charge for a bunk bed in a cabin and $10 for an RV hook up.
Rhodes also partnered recently with the Melvern Wildlife Area managers to put on an opening-day youth dove hunt Sept. 1.
"Because of all the spring rains and flooding at Melvern Lake (part of the dove field had been underwater during planting season), the dove hunting wasn’t nearly as good as the last two years," Rhodes said, "but the kids all had a great time and took lots of shots!"
For more information on the JAKES Camp, contact Rhodes at 620-437-2012.
The Dodge City National Wild Turkey Federation will host its Second Amendment Celebration beginning at 4 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Knights of Columbus building at 800 W. Frontview in Dodge City.
For more information, contact Wilmoth Brandon at 620-230-0929.
The Blackjack Ducks Unlimited banquet will run from 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Brooklyn Hall at Enright Gardens in Edgerton. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 for a single, $50 for a couple and $15 for Greenwings.
For more info, contact Brad Scraper at 785-550-8694.
Emporia Unified School District 253 will partner with Fishing's Future and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism's Fish KS for "Vamos A Pescar," which is Spanish for "Let's Go Fishing"
The event will run from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 21 at Camp Alexander in Emporia. The event will include fishing education and casting stations, fishing derby, seminars and more.
There will be a hot dog and hamburger feed after the activities, and no Kansas fishing license is required to attend. Event-goers are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and fishing equipment.
For more info, contact Phil Taunton at 620-794-5373, Sally Sanchez at 620-366-1094 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Patricia Saenz-Reyes at 620-341-2394 or email@example.com.
Probably one of the coolest events of the entire duck season will take place during the opening day of the High Plains Zone’s duck season Oct. 12, when the Kansas Wetland Education Center hosts its annual Hunter Appreciation Breakfast.
The center, located on the east side of Cheyenne Bottoms, is an ideal place for hunters to stop in after their hunts for a free bite to eat, thanks to the Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The event, which runs from 8 a.m. to noon, features not only a free breakfast, but also a laser shoot and wildlife biologists on hand to discuss this year’s fall flight, among other things.
DU will also be present for a small silent auction, gun calendars and other offerings, including raffles. A free retriever demo will be available with a hunt test training scenario that all trainers and dogs are welcome to try.
For more information on the event, contact Kim Schneweis at 620-282-9592 or Curtis Wolf at 877-243-9268.
A pair of Ducks Unlimited events will take place in the Greater Hays area this fall, with the Fort Hays State chapter hosting a fun shoot in September and the Hays chapter banquet coming later, in November.
The fun shoot will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 14 at the LaSoda Lodge in Russell. Lunch is included with registration, and prizes will be given for the top flighted shooters. There also will be a few higher-end raffles and small silent auction during the lunch/results portion of the afternoon. There are only 100 slots for shooters, given on a first-come, first-served basis.
The banquet, meanwhile, will run from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Schenk Building on the Ellis County Fairgrounds. The BBQ dinner starts at 6:30 p.m., and there will be cocktails and high-end raffles.
For more information on the fun shoot, contact Dalton Oliver at 785-620-7106 or Tanner Kubick at 785-658-5592. For more about the banquet, contact John Lang at 785-650-1543 or Jason Kuhn at 785-650-4777.
The Jayhawk chapter of the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation’s 34th Annual Charity Banquet and Auction will begin at 5 p.m. Oct. 5 at the DoubleTree Hotel and Convention Center at 200 McDonald Drive in Lawrence, formerly the Holiday Inn Holidome.
A social hour will begin at 5 p.m., with cocktails being served, and the dinner and banquet are set for 7 p.m.
There will be live and silent auctions, Kansas and Kansas State memorabilia, games, bird dogs, kids items, gifts for women and more.
For more information, go to https://www.jayhawkquwf.com/ or contact John Hill at 785-841-9555 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those hunters who aren’t quite ready to hang up their fishing rods just yet, the Ducks Unlimited Catfish Tournament on John Redmond Reservoir is the best of both worlds.
The tournament will begin with a check-in at 7 a.m. Sept. 14 at the John Redmond Lake Boat Ramp, with a $50 entry fee per boat and entry for the shore line division set at $25 per person.
Big fish and Lucky Duck categories also are available to register in, and there will be gun raffles and other raffles available.
For more info, contact Bob Hammond at 620-203-0668 or Carol Harris at 913-645-4404.
Bass Pro Shops will host a big event for sportsmen alongside the Johnson County chapter of Ducks Unlimited.
The Sportsman’s Gun Bash will take place beginning at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, at the store’s Olathe location at 12051 Bass Pro Drive. The event is scheduled to run until 9 p.m., and tickets are $30 for a single or $15 each for a Greenwing under 16.
The event is geared toward both hunters and anglers, with a Cast and Blast raffle featuring more than 50 guns, as well as a Hunter’s Harvest Bragging Board, a Turkey Treasure Chest, Cooler Mania and more.
For more information, contact Patrick Mellard at 913-213-9581, Ben Sclafer at 913-306-9994 or Gary Mellard at 913-706-3343.
The Pratt Ducks Unlimited Banquet will run from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Pratt County 4-H building in Pratt.
For more info, contact Brian Arensdorf at 620-388-2371 or Kent Domsch at 620-770-1358.
The National Wild Turkey Federation’s Kansas State Awards Banquet will begin at 5 p.m. Jan. 12, 2020, at the Drury Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, 400 W. Douglas in Wichita.
For more info, contact Wilmoth Brandon at 620-230-0929.